I get a lot of freelancers who contact me asking for work. I’m usually open to the idea. As a business owner, I’m more interested in hiring talented people at a good rate than I am with hiring a company with a large building and layers a management to support. So, freelancers are welcome.
However, I have certain criteria I look for with freelancers. I get solicited by people wanting to work for me purely based on the criteria of “You need developers. I am a developer. You should hire me.” There are millions of developers out there. I am only interested in the best ones at the right price.
Here are things I look for when hiring freelancers:
1. You need a personal portfolio
Whether you are a designer or a developer, you need to have examples of work you have done yourself. I don’t mean work that you’ve done for another client, either (although, that is an important aspect too). I mean, you need to demonstrate that you were able to work on a project (website, app, image, whatever) without guidance.
This also demonstrates that I will be paying for a skill you also have paid for. There is no such thing as a commodity developer. If you have not invested in your skills, why should I?
2. Be set up on a framework like eLance or oDesk.
I use oDesk and eLance a lot when working with freelancers. It gives me security. In the past, I’ve done work with people purely with Paypal as a payment mechanism. This keeps overhead a little lower, but I lose the security of ratings and reviews. There are also legal things in different countries that I don’t want to deal with. I want there to be a middle man.
If you are truly not who you claim to be in terms of skills, I should be able to let others know about it (or, ideally learn about it before I hire you) with a framework like oDesk or eLance. And if you are fantastic, I should be able to sing your praises.
3. Have time allocated to your freelance work.
I’ve hired freelancers in the past who were doing the work outside of their normal business hours. This is fine. Great. The fact that someone is working for me in a back bedroom on a cheap laptop is of no concern to me. In fact, I admire that tenacity. I’m interested in the software produced and not how it was done.
But, I don’t like waiting after something was promised. Where I’ve had trouble in the past is that someone will tell me they will have work produced by Tuesday and then give me excuses the following Friday. One person gave me a sob story about having to neglect his family while he finished some work for me. I think family time is the most important time you have, so I don’t want anyone who lacks the time management skills (or estimation skills when quoting work) so they later treat me like a slave driver.
But, the primary criteria I hear for why I should hire someone is along these lines. . . “You need developers. I am a developer. You should hire me.”
Imagine you wanted to find your ideal partner and get married. Maybe you mention this a few places. Then, you get bombarded with emails like this “You want to get married. I am of the opposite sex. You should marry me.” It is sometimes crazy the way developers market themselves.