Taking the headache out of hiring – A step-by-step hiring checklist for choosing a freelancer on UpWork
Chances are that you are reading this because you have posted an Ecommerce
project on UpWork. Whether you are an UpWork veteran with years of experience or
a first timer, the guide I have outlined for you will help you with your hiring decision.
You are reading this because you understand that hiring a freelancer to work with
your project is an important decision and definitely one that is not to be dealt with
lightly. After all you are about to give someone keys to your business and entrust
them with your baby, your own store. Would you trust your baby to a stranger? Of
course not! You would instantly imagine all the things the stranger could do to screw
You might think that the baby example is a bit extreme but in fact the situation is
identical with Ecommerce websites, a work that is done badly can seriously cost you
later on. In fact, it is possible that there will be loopholes in security or coding that will
make any further updates impossible. It is possible for everything to look good on the
outside while it is a complete mess on the inside.
Now, if you are not that experienced in all the different facets of Ecommerce, or
simply don’t have the time to take care of things yourself, it makes sense to seek help
for your troubles. After all we can’t all do everything and know everything when it
comes to running a business. You have decided to take it to the next level and
improve, that is always a wise decision, kudos for that.
So at this point you have decided to hire someone and head over to UpWork created
a job posting, submitted it and now you are looking at this long list of applicants from
all around the world. At this point your head is probably filled with questions such as:
-Who do I pick?
-How do I decide who to pick?
-How do I know who is the right person for the job?
And having these questions and doubts can very well put you a bit outside of your
comfort zone. It can make you feel lost and a bit confused.
So, if you are anything like most people who hire on these platforms you will feel quite
overwhelmed by the sheer amount of applications that you have received. And the
hiring decision is not made any easier by the fact that you are hiring people to do
something that you are not be an expert in.
Now, your confusion is mounting because the world of coding, design and
development seems like a distant universe and you aren’t sure of where to start. As a
result, you are likely to follow your gut instinct and go for someone you either like or
someone who offers you the best price.
Unfortunately, both of these are bad reasons to pick a contractor. You are likely to
overlook things and rush through the process just to avoid all the confusion and the
pain that comes with an unusual situation. And that is where this guide will help you.
The 10-step formula to successful projects
Having hired on UpWork myself, I created this guide for you to ease your pain. I
wanted to make things really easy for you, so I created a list of the most important
things that you should keep in mind when you are hiring a freelancer for your
I sincerely hope that you benefit from these ten tips, whoever you decide to hire.
1. Know what kind of end result you are after.
Don’t waste your time on a project that is not planned out properly, if you need to just
go ahead and hire someone to consult you and plan the project before you hire for
the entire project.
Remember: planning will always save you time in execution. So get really clear on
what it is that you want before you hire anyone for the actual job.
2. Know what kind of person you are looking for.
In order to not be swayed from your original goal you should have a freelancer avatar
in mind of what it is that you are looking for. Before all of this, you need to understand
what kind of result you are after (Step 1) and then, based on that you can form an idea
of the person you are looking for. Doing things this way lets you instantly screen out
applicants that are not to your standards, making the list of applicants a lot less
3. Know how involved you want to be with the project.
If you don’t have much time to babysit you should be looking to hire an expert who
can work independently and suggest solutions to your problems. If you are busy and
don’t want to micromanage your freelancer, I recommend to avoid cultures that are
very hierarchical because these cultures expect the boss to tell them everything that
they need to get done. Rather hire someone from your own culture that focuses more
on solutions, delivering value and doesn’t require constant babysitting.
4. Don’t automatically pick the cheapest contractor.
It can be very tempting to save money and go with the lowest bidder, however most
of the time the freelancers who bid low are desperate for work. It is possible that you
might get lucky and end up finding a great deal. However, it is more than likely that
you will end up spending a lot of time correcting the things that the freelancer has
done. So remember that you are often better off investing a bit more capital initially
to get someone who knows what they are doing and does the job right on the first try.
5. Background check the applicants.
It is worth doing a bit of snooping around to ensure that the contractor actually
possesses the background that he is presenting. A lot of people out there are using
fake portfolio sites to woo clients in to believing in their abilities. A well expecting
client can easily be swayed by these people because they want to assume good
things of people. Please note that I am not asking you to expect everybody to be liars,
but you should be a little skeptical and ask couple of difficult questions. I promise that
you will be happy that you did.
6. Get on a call with your new hire.
If you were to hire an employee, you would never do a hiring decision without
speaking to the applicant first. And there is a good reason for that, how could you trust
a stranger? Just think about it: trusting your store in the hands of someone that you
have never even talked to would be stupid. I understand that most people don’t like
conducting interviews, but you can keep it short and to the point. The goal is to feel
out a person and get a good sense of whether or not the relationship would work out.
7. Establish a timeline.
It is important that you both know what is delivered and when. Too often delivery
times are overlooked in the spirit of mutual trust. This can lead to a situation where
the client finds out that since there was no set timeline, freelancers can then take
almost however long they want to, and your project will always be towards the
bottom end of their work pile.
8. Agree on communication.
Another easy thing to overlook is the communication needs between you and the
freelancer. You should both agree on the frequency and the medium of the
communication. It is important to keep in mind that with clear and regular
communication you know what is going on and you can spot possible problems early.
Once you get the communication right, you will be the captain who is just gently
guiding the ship to its final destination.
9. Use fixed price to set the incentives correctly.
We should never underestimate the power of incentives. If you reward your
freelancer for working slowly and spend a lot of time with the project, then that is
what you are most likely going to get. On the other hand, if you pay by the results and
have a well-defined project (See step 1) you will be rewarding quickness and
effectiveness. People are naturally a bit selfish and the best way to get the most bang
out of your buck is to form your payments in a way that actually rewards the
freelancer for results, not time.
10. Test and review.
After the work is done, make sure to check it out thoroughly. There’s often one or two
things not quite perfect with the work and you can still ask the freelancer to fix issues
before you are done with the project. Don’t rush to the finish line.
All in all, hiring on freelance platforms requires perspective and patience. Understand
your project before you act and make informed hiring decisions based on these
pointers. Remember a great hire will be there for you through the thick and thin and
will want to build a long-term working relationship with you as well. If you spend time
to find a great contractor the first time around it will save you from constantly being
on UpWork and posting new jobs all the time.
It can be painful to invest the initial time but keep in mind that a great hire will be an
asset to your business and helps you get to the next level. Some of my best hires
have proven to be long-term strategic partners that ended up saving me a lot of time
Samuel Larsen – crogurus.com