You’ve set up a brief and the pitches have come flooding in. But now you’ve shortlisted some freelancers, you’re struggling to make the final call. But you don’t have to make the decision based on the pitch alone. In fact, we’d definitely advise you speak to the freelancer a bit more before you choose someone! Read on to find out more.
What are the advantages of speaking with a freelancer before hiring them?
A project pitch doesn’t always give you a real sense of the freelancer behind the email. But if you speak to them, you can ask them more questions about themselves that you might not be able to gauge from their portfolio or pitch alone. What sort of projects do they really like to work on? Does your project fit into their workflow?
You can also figure out if you’re compatible in other ways. What’s their preferred way of working with clients? If they prefer a hands-off approach from the client but there’s a picture of you under ‘micro-manager’ in the dictionary, you’re not going to get along! Similarly, although you might have a timeline in mind, it’s good to make sure this is feasible before you get started.
If you want, you can also treat a chat like a job interview. It’s a chance to speak with them in more depth about their portfolio and the clients they’ve worked with in the past. If you’ve got a lot of high quality pitches, an interview is a great way to make the choice easier.
What’s the best way to speak to a freelancer?
If you’re close enough, meeting in person really can’t be beat. But of course, if that’s not an option there’s so many other ways you can talk. Skype and FaceTime are obviously fantastic ways to emulate a face-to-face meeting.
But don’t underestimate the power of a simple email, especially for initial enquiries. Just think – if you’ve got a lot of people to choose from, you probably don’t have the time to speak with each of them for an hour over Skype. Similarly, they won’t be best pleased if they spend that time speaking with you only to find out their chances of being hired were very slim!
How often can I speak to a freelancer before hiring them?
The basic rule is don’t go overboard. Don’t send them 80 pages of questions or message for months before committing. Remember that freelancers are often incredibly busy, and are probably working on other projects. These clients are paying them, and you’re taking valuable time out of their day.
How much can I ask before committing?
Don’t interrogate them on the fine details of how they’d approach your project, or ask for drafts without paying. There reaches a point where an ‘innocent’ question looks dangerously like work on spec, and that’s never cool. You’re looking to hire a freelancer, not a free consultant! You’ll only wind your freelancer up if you pick their brains for weeks, only to hire someone else (especially if you mysteriously use all their ideas…)
The bottom line
You can speak to a freelancer before hiring them, but don’t go OTT. Here are some warning signs that it’s time to reconsider your hiring practices.
- You’re doing five rounds of interviews and an assessment day for a tiny colour change.
- One freelancer has stopped replying to your endless enquiries.
- Fifty freelancers have stopped replying to your endless enquiries and have blocked your calls.
- You find yourself messaging freelancers at 4am.
- Your days are taken up entirely with intensive Skype interro…ahem, sorry, interviews.
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