7 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Freelancer

Advice 27 July 2015 7 minute read

You're hiring a freelancer for your project, but what should you ask them? After freelancing successfully for many years, let me help you out.

If you're wondering what questions to ask when hiring a freelancer, it usually means you're at one of two stages. You either know who you'd like to work with or want to be ready when you find someone, which will be soon.

Trust me, it's not a good idea coming into a call with no questions prepared. Most of the time it'll be the freelancer asking questions, like "what are your business goals with this website?" or "who is your ideal customer?". However, to make sure this person is right for you and your business, here are a few questions you should ask them...

A great question to start off on as it can be a great indicator of their work ethic and how they generally go about organising projects.

You don't want someone who just flies through the project, taking care of things as they go. You do want someone who will put a lot of planning and research into your project before even beginning any designs or coded pages.

The aim of this question is to get a feel for how they work. Here's a general idea of what most freelancers should do (and what I do!):

That's the general idea of a process and workflow someone might follow. Obviously, everyone is different, but it gives you an idea of the answer to expect.

If they give you some long-winded, heavily philosophical answer that doesn't actually answer your question, it's usually a red flag that you might want to look elsewhere.

This is always handy to know, no matter who you're working with. But it's even more important when you're working with a freelancer as they don't tend to work normal hours.

Although I'm not always at the computer, my clients can always get hold of me by phone, email and Skype between 9 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday.

If the person you're looking to work with is a bit sketchy about when and how to get hold of them, it's a red flag. Sometimes people get into freelancing thinking it'll be an easy ride. Wake up at 11 am, do a little work, watch some TV, grab some food, maybe do some more work. That's not how you run a successful business and it's definitely not any way to have people enjoy working with you either.

It may seem trivial, but being able to contact your freelancer during the work day is crucial. Sure, I take bike rides at 2 pm some days, but if a client needs me, I'm always available to answer questions and help in any way I can.

It's important to know if your freelancer has done this type of project before, here's why:

That being said, while it's great to have someone who has experience with your type of project, it's not essential. Remember, most web projects are related in some way, whether it's through technology, code or whatever else.

Just keep in mind that a bank website is vastly different from an eCommerce store, so having someone with experience in your general area is a big plus.

Nobody likes talking about money, but it needs to be done early if you want to save yourself multiple headaches later on.

A lot of freelancers worry about clients not paying them, however, after doing this for a while it's become clear to me that not everything is so clear-cut.

Sometimes people run out of capital, other times you don't want to pay for something you don't like. The best way to avoid any problems when it comes to payment is to talk about it early and make sure you and your freelancer sign a contract early on.

Here's a brief overview of my payment stages for an average project:

It may seem like quite a few different payments, but it's much easier for you and the freelancer to pay, and be paid, in small yet consistent amounts.

It's all well and good finding the perfect freelancer for your project, but that doesn't matter if they're unavailable for the time span you need.

I advise asking this early on, as it'll save some awkward moments a couple of weeks later when you get an email saying the person you've just hired will now be on holiday for two weeks.

That being said, it's sometimes worth the wait. Someone I admire greatly in the freelance web design world, Paul Jarvis, usually has clients on a waiting list for many months until he can even start to think about working on their projects.

If someone is really that good and you need the best, waiting until they're free should be an option you consider.

You want to know exactly what your hard-earned money is paying for, and rightfully so. But this question should be left until your second or third phone call (at least), otherwise, your freelancer will either not be able to tell you, or worse, make something up on the spot.

To properly understand the scope of a project, research needs to be done and notes need to be taken. A few years ago, the majority of freelance work was just "give me money, I'll make you a website", but things have changed drastically since then.

Today we live in a world where the person you're hiring really needs to understand your product and business, that way they can build a custom, tailor built solution just for you.

The ultimate question you want to ask is whether you'll be able to update the website yourself once it's live on the internet.

I use WordPress (or sometimes the option my client prefers) which is a CMS, or content management system. This allows you to easily edit the content, pages, images and so much more on your site. All without having to give me a call every time something needs changing.

You may be wondering if this is even needed, especially if your site is something small with only a few pages. The answer is always yes because you should always be looking to expand. With the ability to manage the site yourself, you have true control over your online presence. That's the point of your fancy new website, right?