How to find the best freelancer for a job

Sometimes you have small or repetitive stuff you want, or should want, to outsource. Or maybe you need something done that you just can´t do yourself. That´s when a freelancer comes in handy. You don´t have to hire anyone permanently, and nowadays you can find all sorts of freelancers easily over the internet.

Why outsourcing?

  • When you don´t like a job.
  • When you can make more doing other stuff, but still have to get something else done.
  • To do more so you can scale up your business.
  • When you simple can´t do it yourself.

Where to find freelancers?

My favourite freelancer sites are

  • Upwork (formerly known as oDesk).

There are more out there for sure, so have a look around.

So how do I find a good freelancer?

Basically you have to be quite detailed in your specs, but first you need to weed out the less suited applicants. When you post a job, you´ll see that you will get a lot of messages, some better than others… :)

You will recieve standard messages of people who will apply to any job, messages from people who don´t understand the job, messages from people who lie about their skills, and messages from people who would be a perfect fit for the job.

So now your task will be to find the suited applicants and get the best price. Also see who you communicate well with, because your time is valuable, and it is important that the job gets done according to your instructions. As with so many things in life, the lowest price is not always the cheapest. Pay a bit more if you have a good connection with a freelancer. It will re-pay itself over time.

To find a good match for your job take the following steps:

1. Make a clear, detailed, but not too long, job post.

State what you need, but leave behind unnecessary details. If users need to use any software, make sure you list that, people might not have it, or might not be able to use it.

2. Break down the job into basic steps and save them.

You might have several suited candidates. To avoid typing too much, make sure you have a brief set of instructions ready. You can add it into your job posting, or paste it into the messages you will send possible matching freelancers. Believe me, this will save you a lot of work!

3. Add some questions to the job posting.

Add some short basic questions to the job posting. This will be a simple test to see if people really master the skills they say they do. This will narrow down the field of possible candidates a lot, and it is best to do that at the beginning. It can be really frustrating finding out after a very long chat that someone really can´t do the job even though they said so before, so do this right away in the job posting!

4. Look at references and previous work of your candidates.

Now that you have a short list of candidates after following step 1 to 3, look at the reviews the freelancers have. Also ask them to send you some work they did before that is similar to your job. That way you can get a good feel of how suited they really are for the job.

5. Don´t forget about the $

Choose the cheapest one, keeping in mind that qulity is important as well.

6. Keep them motivated using milestones

Divide up the job into clear milestones. You can pay them by milestone, and if for some reason they don´t finish the job you will still have part of the work, and other freelancers can continue where the previous freelancer left off.

It will also keep the freelancers motivated and happy. Sometimes they get demotivated doing big assignments, and simpler smaller goals and regular payments give them something to look forward to and they keep them motivated.

7. Have them document the work

In addition to the previous point, also have the freelancers clearly document the deliverables. For example, if they write software, let them use good coding standards, good code structure, and have them document the application. Pay a little extra to have them do it, it´ll be worth your while!

You will find out from own experience that a lot of times freelancers don´t finish their job. They stop responding, they come with (sometimes valid) excuses, or they are just too slow and incapable. I have heard every excuse in the book! If you have set up your assignments with clear cut milestones and good documents, it will be relatively easy to hand it over to the next freelancer.

8. Start with a small task a test for your freelancer

When you first start working with a freelancer, try to give them a small task. Choose a small job that you have laying around, or if you don´t have any, choose a milestone of your bigger job.

For example, lets say you want some one to build you a forum website. Maybe your freelancer could start with setting up a simple framework of the website, where users can register and login. If you are happy with result, assign the freelancer a new job where he has to add the rest of the forum functionality.

9. Keep track of your freelancers’ results

Over time you might collect the contact details of many freelancers, some good, some bad. It is important that you keep track of which freelancers are good, and what they are good at!

Make notes in text files, excel,  google docs, or whatever and make sure you don´t loose it! Good employees, and especially good tech employees, are worth alot! It is not for nothing that you see big companies like Google and Facebook fighting over tech talent, they are scarce!

10. Don´t be a cheapskate!

Good workers are important. If they mess up sometime or ask for a little higher pay, don´t be a stingey bastard and pay them! What to you will only be a few dollars can mean the world to them. Really, don´t be an asshole…


If your employees feel happy and appeciated, they will work harder for you and be loyal. Good work deserves good pay, and it will cost you more finding new good employees than paying them a bit more money.

For sure there are more things to think about, but these steps should help you on your way to hiring someone adequate and not too expensive.



Living in Europe as a freelance programmer. Interested in programming in general, web development and machine learning in particular. Currently most used language is PHP, also experienced in JAVA.

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