Our Complete Guide to Hiring a Freelancer


There are many reasons why outsourcing specific projects and tasks can be the best solution for your business. But if you’ve never hired a freelancer before, it can be intimidating. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you take the first step and navigate some of the challenges that you might face.

This guide will give you a full picture of what it feels like to work with a freelancer. We’ll also help you to avoid the most common outsourcing mistakes so you can work towards excellent results. We’ll give you the inside scoop on the most popular projects on PeoplePerHour, as well as expert tips on how to write a compelling project description and how to choose the right freelancer for your project. In this guide, we’ve created an all-encompassing overview of the entire outsourcing lifecycle.

We hope you find the information in this guide useful, and it’ll help you to join the ranks of millions of savvy businesses around the world who are outsourcing their projects to freelancers!

Let’s get in and get (sc)rolling.

Chapter 1: Why hire a freelancer?

Perhaps you’re wondering how you can afford to get help, but the real question is:How can you afford not to?

No matter what stage your business is in, sooner or later we all need help to build and grow. No business owner is capable of doing everything on their own. And, lack of time and skills for certain projects can put up roadblocks along the way that hinder business progression.

When should you consider hiring a freelancer?

  • Bamboozled by a boost in your business? Demand for your business can suddenly change, often due to external factors beyond your control. A Freelancer can help your business to quickly adjust to changing business needs.
  • Weighed down by your workload? When you’ve got far too much on your plate, a Freelancer can help to bring your workload back to a more realistic level. Together you can achieve more.
  • Stuck due to a lack of expertise? When nobody in the office has the right skills to execute a project, a freelancer with the right level of expertise can help you out of a sticky situation.
  • Unclear how you can expand? Get advice from a marketing or sales expert. Freelancers with the right know-how can help your business grow.
  • Distracted by non-core business needs? Running your own business means you get to do less of the exciting stuff. Outsource the projects that impact your precious time so you can focus on what you do best — building and growing your enterprise.

Agency or Freelancer?

You might think that hiring an agency will solve your problem, especially if you need creative support. And, you could be right if you’re a mega-corporation with lots of cash to splash around.

Same expertise at a lower cost

An agency has a lot more overheads to cover than a freelancer: offices, salaries and benefits, equipment and materials, cleaners … you name it, and an agency has to pay for it. That’s why agency fees are so high. Freelancers often have very little overhead as they work from home, but are still able to deliver the expertise.

A personal touch

Using an agency usually means that, if you’re a small business, you’ll end up way down the priority list; naturally they’re going to pay more attention to bigger and more established clients. Nothing personal – it’s just business. Freelancers, on the other hand, can give each of their clients a more personalised service for two reasons:

  • They seldom work with more than just a few clients at any one time.
  • Their present and future income depend on giving their clients the best possible service.

If you need an agency to get something done or even give you information in a hurry, you may be waiting for a while! A freelancer, on the other hand, is always just at the other end of the phone.

5 benefits of hiring a freelancer online

  1. Flexibility: Freelancers are available on short notice. You can access skills you don’t have in-house and don’t need often.
  2. Budget control: When you set a budget for a project, the freelancer sticks to it.
  3. Get better results: When you hire freelancers, you hire an expert. They will be able to do a project you have never done before much quicker and better.
  4. Save Time: Online freelance marketplaces allow you to easily contact freelancers, compare different prices and keep all communication in one place.
  5. Access wide breadth of services in one place: On PeoplePerHour you can find all the services you need to help you build your business from the ground up. Explore our categories here.

Chapter 2: What type of projects can freelancers do?

No job too big or too small

You can hire freelancers from as little as one hour for a small clearly defined task, all the way through to a long-term evolving project that can last for months. When your project is extremely urgent and pressing, some freelancers can get started immediately and fit your project around their other work to come to your rescue.

Hard to find skills

By hiring a freelancer, you can find some rare and specialist expertise, like translating skills are extremely difficult to source or can become really expensive. You can even find some very senior experts that offer their services on the side to enable access to talent that you otherwise couldn’t afford. Freelancers are there to plug many skills gaps within your business.

You can find freelancers across a vast array of services. Here’s a snippet of the most searched for skills on the PeoplePerHour platform:

  • Accounting
  • Blog writing
  • Business administration
  • CRM and email marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Image editing
  • Legal advice
  • SEO support
  • Social Media Management and Marketing
  • Telemarketing
  • Translations
  • Video creation and editing
  • Web Development

Even if you’re searching for a particular skill that isn’t in the search results,
there’s nothing stopping you from listing your project. PeoplePerHour has
1.5 million registered freelancers, so there’s a great
chance you’ll find someone with just the kind of expertise that your
business needs.

A quick scan of available projects on PeoplePerHour shows us:

  • “Telemarketing Expert needed for Courier Company”
  • “Some basic fixes to our new WordPress website”
  • “Local Mobile Developer with Experience with Subscription Model”
  • “I need an SEO expert”
  • “Virtual Assistant Data Entry”
  • “Looking for someone to create two covers for my comic”
  • “Specialist Immigration lawyer Ireland”

If you don’t know where to start, you can search for Offers. They are specialist projects that freelancers offer across each category and are typically quick (one hour or less) that can get you started on your next project. With an offer, the freelancer explains what they can do, how quickly they can deliver, and for what price. It’s a ready-made package.

All you need to do is hire the freelancer of your choice!

Chapter 3: Different ways to book a freelancer

Post a Project

When you’ve got a specific project in mind, the best way of finding a freelancer on PeoplePerHour is to post your requirements and let the freelancers come to you. To start, use our brief writing tool. This clever tool is programmed to ask all the right questions to help you to publish your project. Our AI system does the hard work — matching and contacting the best freelancer for your project. Each freelancer then responds with their own tailored quote.

Buy an Offer

PeoplePerHour offers a unique way to discover services that can help to grow your business. Every Offer is a fixed-price project. You pay only the list price, no matter how much time the freelancer spends on completing the task. It’s a great way to explore what freelancers can do for you and your business.

PeoplePerHour carefully checks every freelancer that applies to be part of our community, to guarantee you’ll be working with a genuine expert in their field of work. Additionally, every user is rated and reviewed by the PeoplePerHour community.

Discover Freelancers

When you have more experience working with freelancers, you can search rated and reviewed freelancers.
Freelancers from our international network, in any category. Contact them directly to discuss your project
and award it to them privately.

Chapter 4: Writing the perfect project description

When searching for a freelancer, it’s important to spend some time and effort in writing an appealing project description in order to:

  • Attract the freelancers with the right skills.
  • Get quotes from freelancers with the right level of experience.
  • Get realistic quotes that work for your budget and timeframe.

A word about money

Of course, you could always just select the candidate with the lowest rates. However, before you do, it’s worth calculating the long-term cost if low rates result in low quality work.

Do your research: a quick Google search will tell you the standard freelance rates for a certain skill. This way, your top freelancer knows you’re offering a realistic rate and will be much more inclined to put in a good quote.

How to write the perfect project description

Describe your project in as much detail as you can. If you’re worried about confidentiality, there’s always the option to ask the Freelancer to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Describe your ideal freelancer in terms of experience, industry contacts, expertise, software skill, and any other criteria that will help to narrow your search.

Upload as much relevant information about your Project as possible, including pictures, documents, specifications and examples of work you like. It’s hard for freelancers to give you a realistic quote if they don’t know what they’re quoting for.

Match the experience level to your requirements. Remember, you’re searching for the best you can afford, not the cheapest you can get.

Be specific and realistic about your timeframe. Make sure to allow enough time to do a proper project but build in some wiggle room in case of delays.

Once you've uploaded your project

No matter how perfectly you’ve described your project, there will always
be questions from freelancers – that’s what our clarification board is for.
Always respond to relevant questions as soon as possible: after all, your
top freelancer could be out there waiting for your reply.

All that’s left to do is to sit back and wait for quote to come in.

Chapter 5:
How to select the right freelancer for your project

Once you have some Quotes in your inbox, it’s time to review and shortlist your top Freelancers. Every PPH Freelancer has their own profile page, so you can easily learn more about them at a glance. On their profile page, you’ll find several pieces of information to help you create your shortlist.

CERT rating

‘CERT’ is an algorithm developed by PeoplePerHour that aims to classify and rank all freelancers on the service they provide, rewarding the services that meet our exacting quality standards. It analyses:

  • Professionalism factors such as speed of response, timeliness of delivery, rules of conduct and respect.
  • Client feedback, such as ratings, endorsements and good feedback.
  • Retention of clients and generation of follow-on work.
  • Lifetimes platform billings and recent sales activity.

Feedback from previous buyers

What others are saying about a freelancer is always worth a look. A bit like reviews on an online shopping channel, if there’s just a single mention of something not quite right, it could mean the freelancer was having a bad day. However, if negative comments are frequently mentioned by clients, then consider it a red flag. It’s reassuring to look through projects that a freelancer has done before, especially if the freelancer has had repeat bookings from a client or two.


A freelancer’s portfolio should give you an idea of the work they’ve done for other clients and what they could do for you. If there isn’t one
— well, there should be one, so that’s a serious red flag.

There are other factors to take into account before shortlisting your top freelancers:

  • Candidates quoting low hourly rates could take much longer than those with higher rates.
  • Most freelancers are open to negotiation.
  • When a freelancer is based abroad, you need to consider the time difference.
  • Rapport is important; you can get a great idea of how well you could work together with a quick Skype conversation.
  • If you’re searching for a freelancer to take on a large, complex project, it’s worth offering a smaller, related test project to make sure they’re right for the big one – paid, of course.
  • It’s worth checking out a freelancer’s social media presence, both on personal and business-related platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook.

What to discuss with your shortlisted freelancers

Once you have your shortlist, start a conversation with the freelancers you’re most interested in. It’s a chance for you and the freelancer to go into a lot more detail about what you require and how they can help.

Before you outsource a project, you need to know

  • Do they have examples of work similar to what you’re looking for?
  • What value can they add to your project?
  • Are there any “extras” involved that they’re not quoting for?
  • Why do they want to work on this project in particular?
  • What other areas do they specialise in?
  • What other projects are they working on at the moment?
  • Are they a full-time freelancer, or picking up evening and weekend work?
  • How much time can they devote to your project?
  • When can they start?
  • How long do they think it will take?

Before you outsource to a freelancer, they need to know

  • Exactly what you’re expecting them to do for you, in more detail than your original project post.
  • Why you need this work done; a bit of background information could lead to some useful suggestions.
  • How many first-round concepts and revision rounds you’re expecting.
  • Who’s responsible for image licencing payments.
  • The deadline (don’t forget the “wiggle room”).
  • Payment milestones if they’re charging by the hour.

When awarding the project

  • Make sure the quote is exactly in line with your requirements.
  • Accept the quote.
  • Transfer the funds to Escrow to be held until you’re happy with the final project.
  • Keep in touch throughout the project and check in regularly.

Chapter 6: Some final tips on how to hire a freelancer

  • Start the hiring process as far in advance as possible and build in some extra time for the whole project to buffer for any surprise delays.
  • Research the going rate for the work you want to be done so you can budget accordingly. Decide whether you want to hire for the whole project, or by the hour.
  • Don’t just search for the cheapest freelancer. Find the best one you can afford and the one who’ll give you exactly what you need.
  • Once you start receiving applications, go through them in batches, it’s faster and easier.
  • When you’ve created your shortlist, send each freelancer an identical message to see how they respond. This gives you the chance to find out how they communicate, how quickly they get back to you, and an indication of their personality.
  • If you’re searching for a freelancer with specialised technical knowledge, make sure they can convey that knowledge back to you in a language you will understand.
  • If you’re planning on a small test project for your shortlisted candidates, it should be the same for all of them and have a non-negotiable deadline. All test projects should be paid for.
  • Once you’ve selected the best candidate, it’s a good idea to let the others on your shortlist know you’ve chosen someone else, and thank them for their interest.

Some final tips from other buyers

  • “Use freelancer ratings and history to make the hiring process efficient.” Matthias Achermann, Viddedit
  • “A freelancer will only be as good as your brief. Take the time to write a comprehensive brief and use examples from other businesses you like to convey your ideas.” Rhys Jelley, BrideToBeBox
  • “Put as much info into the project as you can and always be on hand to answer questions and test out changes.” Debbie, Just4Leather
  • “When posting a brief, be online to answer questions, make recommendations and give feedback.” Alex Webb, Flying Start XP
  • “Bookmark / favourite freelancers who have successfully completed projects for you.” Rhys Jelley, BrideToBeBox
  • “Keep the Workstreams open to continue working with the freelancers you like.” Rhyan O’Sullivan, TEFL Academy
  • “Use both Escrow and PayPal for increased payment protection.” Anka Sharma, 3D-Prototype
  • “The chat system makes it very easy to communicate and keep all the information at the same place to review easily, even if different people from our team log in at different times.” Ana Rodriguez, Santamaria Shirtmakers
  • “Confirm a freelancer has understood your brief by asking for a small example, or regular and early progress so you can correct them if they have not got it right.” Rhys Jelley, BrideToBeBox
  • “Search Offers to get a sense of the breadth of services.” Mark McConway, Dropmenot
  • “Do your research, communicate with and manage your freelancers well.” David Bryan, Opace

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