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5 Tips for Finding the Right Freelancer for Your Project

by: lindy siu

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” ﹘ Helen Keller

Finding freelancers for hire is easy enough; finding the right freelancer though ﹘ that’s a different kettle of fish. There are millions of registered freelancers looking for work online. So why is it such a challenge finding the right freelancers? Assuming the candidates you’ve shortlisted all possess the required skills for the job, perhaps there should be less focus on credentials and more on attitude.

Working with like-minded individuals who share your values and work ethics almost always results in a magical synergy in the creative process. It paves the way for a long-term relationship ﹘ the kind that only grows stronger over time, nurturing loyalty and camaraderie.  

But how do you attract those with the right attitude, who share your values and ethics?

Clarity of Expectations

If you don’t know what you want, how would the freelancer know? 

The quality of a project brief directly affects the quality of the work delivered. Creativity is subjective. Saying you want “something different” is as vague as it gets. “Everyone as your target audience”? It basically says you don’t know who your audience is.

Being fickle-minded about what you want doesn’t help your cause either. If you want to land professional freelancers, bear in mind that you have to be a professional too.

You don’t have to have all the answers. If you need help defining your project objectives, you’ll be better off working with a more experienced freelancer who can provide consultation as an added service. They’ll cost more, but you’ll get more value for your money.

 

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

For a freelancer, finding the right projects/clients is just as challenging. 

Most freelancers, like you, are looking to build long-term relationships. Human beings are generally simple creatures. We like working with people we like and respect. While there are some (freelancers and clients alike) who might have a less than professional attitude to work, most of us just want to get on with it ﹘ no dramas, no fuss. 

(It’s my second year freelancing full-time as a copywriter, and I’ve had my share of experiences ﹘ good and bad. I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s imperative to screen clients, just as I’ve learnt that most clients want what I want ﹘ to have a positive experience creating something meaningful together.)

Perhaps a basic rule of thumb for finding the right freelancer is as simple as putting yourself in their shoes. It might not work every time, but it will definitely make a difference. 

Show them your appreciation when they turn in a brilliant piece of work, or when they make insightful recommendations. 

Keep an open mind to their interpretations of your vision. It might not be exactly what you had in mind; it might be better! 

 

Adopt a Collaborative Approach

A collaborative approach provides an open environment for the project to evolve and take on a life of its own.

The freelancer might be an expert at what he/she does, but it is natural for us to see things mainly from our personal perspective. Exchange of ideas and open discussions go a long way towards realising project goals. 

Most of us are social beings. Collaborations allow us to connect on a deeper level; we learn and grow best when we enjoy stimulating interactions with like-minded people. That’s when synergy happens ﹘ and it is truly beautiful to behold.

 

Communication: Keep It Efficient and Organised 

This is just as important for the client as it is for the freelancer. 

Good language skills are helpful, but not necessarily the key requirement for good communication. What’s more important is how you communicate. Are you responsive to the freelancer’s questions or requests for clarification? Do you provide prompt feedback on a piece of work? (I once had a client who took 6 weeks to provide feedback on a 2-page document I edited. I was naturally far from amused, nor will I be keen on working with them again.)

Are your email communications organised? Sending 10 different emails with bits and pieces of information scattered all over will not only confuse, it will result in additional admin and organisation for the freelancer. Unless they were hired to do admin work, that’s not going to go down well with most.

 

Respect: It Goes Both Ways

It’s important for the freelancer to respect your deadlines and project goals, but it’s equally as important that you respect their efforts and contribution. 

Some clients seem to think it’s perfectly okay to change the project scope willy-nilly, or to sneak in add-ons hoping for freebies. Refer #2: Put Yourself in Their Shoes. You wouldn’t want to work with freelancers who flake out and go AWOL; do them the same courtesy of respecting the terms of the agreement. It’s fine to modify the project scope if you need to ﹘ flexibility is a prerequisite of the creative process ﹘ but don’t just assume it will be okay. Respect the freelancer enough to consider their thoughts about it.

Here’s another effective way to build strong rapport with the freelancer: respect their creative insights. By keeping an open mind to their suggestions and contributions, you are assuring them that their work matters, and that they’re making a difference. 

Finding the right freelancer requires time and effort ﹘ but the good news is, they’re looking for you too! Do you have any other tips you’d like to add to the list? Do share!


Lindy Siu hails from a background of corporate marketing for international brands such as Ericsson and BMW. As a freelance copywriter, she now focuses mainly on projects involving creative prose and personalised communication to bring out a brand’s unique voice. Her personal approach in building genuine relationships with clients and collaborators enables her to weave in the distinctive traits and values of a brand or project into the fabric of her writing.

Lindy Siu