6 Tips for Vetting Freelancers

LaTanya Williams


March 15, 2017 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

Many companies are exploring the benefits of hiring freelancers as a way to gain valuable expertise without the hefty price tag. Businesses can minimize risk by vetting freelancers and verifying their skills. Companies can also avoid the cost of marketing on various employment sites, securing dedicated recruiters, paying for medical benefits, and conducting training.

Though the benefits are substantial, securing the right freelancers to support your company can be a challenging feat. Candidates today offer a wide variety of skills to select from. It can be difficult to determine exactly which qualities best complement your efforts. There are also the added responsibilities of researching references, discovering professional strengths, and ensuring quality work. Fortunately, there are many effective ways for vetting freelancers to discover and hire the best and the brightest writers, while minimizing your business risk.


1. Look Further than the Resume

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Before you hire your next freelancer, you should review their professional background in detail. You can quickly review links to online portfolios, websites, or networking sites. This may direct you to additional work samples, showing expertise and a list of previous clients. You may note successfully completed projects that confirm their ability to support your company.

Contacting professional resources is also another effective way to vet your freelancer. References will be able to tell you about the candidate’s work habits. They might also offer insight on potential challenges. Making a quick call to a former colleague or manager could expose strengths or weaknesses well in advance.

2. Reach Out to Your Prospects

Another simple way to research your freelancer is by making a direct call to get to know your prospect. You can request a formal interview or a discovery call to learn more about previous projects. This will help you learn about facts that may have not been included on the resume or cover letter.

Effectively communicating with your candidate will ensure project success from the very beginning. Credentials may or may not reveal all of the candidate’s competences. A phone call can help you to uncover other qualities that may benefit your project, and will also enable a strong relationship. You will get to know your resource, and establish a firm foundation to improve your chances of reaching your goals.

3. Start with a Minor Assignment

Although it is uncustomary to ask for free work to demonstrate skills, you can offer minor assignments before asking freelancers to commit to long term projects. You can easily break down large projects into smaller increments, and ask your freelancer to help with a small portion. If you are satisfied with the short-term results, then you can move on to a wider list of tasks.

If you experience some challenges, but see potential in your freelancer, you may consider offering additional feedback to support project goals. If you have established a strong professional relationship in the beginning, it will be easy to talk about areas of improvement. Even freelancers can benefit from employers who invest in their development. This can be as simple as providing constructive feedback that allows them to perform better on the next assignment.

4.  Consider Using an Agency with Vetted Talent

Partnering with an outside agency can help you locate top talent that has already been trained to prepare materials within your genre. Agencies further minimize risk and help to take away some of the guess work out of the process. They have already qualified and trained writers so you won’t have to. You will benefit from their track record of success and find a qualified list of candidates who have already completed the evaluation process.

You can also do some extra fact checking with the agency. Ask for client references and work samples. You can search online for customer reviews and social media sites as well. Look for Better Business Reviews (BBB) or other business standards. If the business has been around for a while and has high quality ratings, they are most likely a good source.

5. Define Clear Project Objectives

One of the easiest ways to get solid work from your freelancer is making sure you have structured your project details and expectations in advance. Evaluate your business needs and outline your expectations so you will be able to explain these details efficiently. A communication gap can limit project results. Be sure to clearly define goals, instructions, and chains of command throughout the project.

Before beginning your project, you should define the audience you are trying to reach and conduct in-depth research. This will help you clearly explain your expectations to your freelancer. Your writer will need to know what kind of tone to use to address the audience. If there are any specific style parameters or word counts, this should also be clearly outlined. Writing samples that demonstrate these specifics are also useful.

6. Hire the Best

When it comes to finding solid talent, there are plenty of ways to make sure that you hire the best. Look beyond resumes and cover letters to learn about your candidate’s potential. Discover additional competencies that may support your goals by doing a little extra research. Finding your next freelancer might be just a phone call away.

Starting small will allow you to get to know your freelancer and avoid costly mistakes during major projects. Build upon a solid relationship by working in phases. This will not only allow you to get to know your freelancer, but will also give you time to refine your project scope if necessary. If your project is not producing the expected results, you will have plenty of time to evaluate the overall project scope and provide additional coaching to the writer.

Review project expectations and details consistently. Make sure that details are clearly outlines and consistent throughout the project. Offer an easy to use platform for freelancers to ask for clarification or support well ahead of deadlines. The more you know about the project details in advance, the easier it will be to match the right writer to the right assignments.

Author Image - LaTanya Williams
LaTanya Williams

Published copywriter, social media marketing manager, and creative content developer. Brain behind the So Healthy and Well Blog.

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