How to Hire Good Freelancers on Upwork

Looking to hire freelancers? In today’s article, I’m going to spill the beans on nine tips that you can take to hire the best freelancers on Upwork. Over the last decade, I’ve hired hundreds of freelancers so I know exactly what it takes to hire really great Upworkers versus really bad Upworkers.

Tip 1: Write a clear RFP

The first tip that I give you is to make sure that you are writing a clear RFP, that details the five Ws and how. Who, what, where, when, why and how. It’s really important that you detail exactly what you want out of your freelancing contract. What sort of work are you going to do? Exactly what your budget is? What is your timeline and what is your ideal candidate look like?

By answering these sorts of questions you’re going to make sure that the candidates that are applying for your job are actually the right fits for you. Too often people don’t take the time to write an effective RFP. If you want to look at what an effective RFP looks like, all you need to do is open up a job listing on a job board and make something similar in the context of a freelance.

Tip 2: Set filters on who can apply for your project.

The second tip that I tell you specific to Upwork is to make sure that you set filters on your RFP for who can apply for your project. Too often people don’t make use of this section in their listing where you can set up preferred qualifications. So in my case, when I’m hiring writers, for example, I make sure that there’s at least a job success score of 80%, that they are fluent in English as well as I like to include rising talent, because those are going to give me some ideal candidates that are still .Looking to establish their Upwork profiles.

For this project as well, I also want it to set my location preferences to the United States, but your mileage may vary for your particular needs. Whatever the case is though, they’ll make sure that you’re making complete use of this preferred qualification section.

Tip 3: Use free invites

The third tip I can offer you is to make sure that you’re using your free invites and inviting good fit freelancers. Upwork is going to actually give you some free invites regardless of what level plan you’re on. So what you can do is you can log into your Upwork account, and then when you are actually looking to invite folks or you find interesting profiles, you can click this green button to invite to job in order to invite them to your proposal.

So what you’d ideally do is you’d go through these different profiles, and from here, you would be able to see whether or not these sorts of freelancers would be good fits for your projects. And then go ahead and invite them to your particular project.

To make the use of this, you’re going to want to pair it with the prior tip in terms of using some preferred qualifications and apply the same tactics with respect to the search bar settings on the left-hand side here.

Personally, I find it really useful to set things at least to 80% job success rates coupled with a few other criteria such as hours billed and earned amounts and things like that. But overall, what I find is that a lot of people don’t make full use of the free invites that Upwork gives them, which is a missed opportunity for you and your RFP.

Tip 4: Setup a test task

My fourth tip for you when it comes to hiring really good freelancers on Upwork is to make sure that you’re setting up test task for the things that you actually want done. It’s all about testing competency. So what that means is, for example, if you want to hire a virtual assistant, you should put together a list of three or four of the key tasks that you’re opting in to have them doing so you can see whether or not they can follow your instructions to a T.

In the case where they can’t, then you’re going to want to find another candidate. A lot of times, people that are newer on Upwork would just go ahead and hire somebody that applies for their job without actually vetting them. So one of the best ways you can vet them is to set up a paid test tasks for freelancers to try out your job. This is a great way for it to be a two-way street in which you’re going to get a sense for exactly what the skills are of the person that’s applying for your job, as well as whether or not you like the work product of that particular person.

And you can apply this regardless of why your RFP is about. If, for example, you’re looking for a video editor, you might give them some raw footage and see exactly how they might edit one minute of that raw footage or in the case where you’re looking for a content writer, you might give them a test article to see what their writing style and quality looks like.

Tip 5: Create SOP

The fifth tip that I have for you is to make sure that you’re investing in creating SOP for whatever it is that you’re going to hire a freelancer for.

You have to remember that freelancers or contractors, which means that they are not full-time employees, which means that you have even less of their time than a full-time employee, which means that you have to have really clear instructions as to exactly what you want done for whatever it is that you’re looking to fill.

For example, if you want a virtual assistant to read through your email is to do a preliminary pass through and then organize them for you so that you the focus on the things that matter. You have to help that person understand exactly what makes an important email versus an unimportant email. It’s really important that you detail a standard operating procedure for every single task that you are looking to get done.

To do this, I recommend that you use a combination of writing out the instructions, as well as recording a visual video that actually walks through you doing those instructions. That way they can see visually how exactly you would do it yourself as well as read and follow along in the case where they are not a visual learner.

It’s really important that you cater to the different learning styles of different people. And the best way to do that is by having written instructions, as well as a detailed video, where you’re voicing over exactly what work you want to get done.

In the case where you haven’t actually done it yourself, so for example, maybe you’re not used to video editing and you have no idea where to start, what you’re going to want to think about is how would you define it to the best of your ability? Exactly what are you looking for in your key deliverables?

A lot of times people get frustrated with freelancers in terms of some of their contracts. And oftentimes the reality is that the reason why the freelancer wasn’t able to do the job was because you weren’t clear enough in your expectations of what you were looking for.

Tip 6: Understand what your budget is

The sixth tip that I give for you is to make sure that you’re paying competitively and understanding what your budget is going to get you. Depending on where you’re at in your business. You’re going to have a different budget for different projects. And so it’s really important for you to start to get a sense of a general benchmark as to how much it costs for X Y Z task versus ABC task.

For example, in the case where I might have a bug on one of my WordPress sites, I know that a WordPress developer is going to be cheaper or more affordable than another freelancer that might be a rails developer or react developer and so on. So it’s really important that you understand in general what the market rates look like.

To better understand this, what I recommend is you check out the talent section of Upwork. So to do that, what you’re going to want to do is you’re going to want to hop into your Upwork account and then go to the talent tab. And from here, you can look up whatever category of work you’re looking for to get a sense of what people list their rates at.

This’ll give you a better understanding of the different geographical differences in terms of how much people are in a particular country, as opposed to another, as well as different things in terms of experience level and past projects.

By having a better sense of exactly what your budget can get, you can be more realistic about the outcomes of the freelance work that you’re looking to hire for.

Step 7: Build up a strong client feedback profile

The seventh tip that I give you is to make sure that you’re building a strong client feedback profile. It’s really important that it’s a two-way street in which when people are applying for your job, that they know that they’re applying for a job that they’re going to want to want. And that means that you’re a helpful and communicative client and that’s clear in your feedback profile.

So in the case where you haven’t established a feedback yet in your first few projects, you want to make sure that you’re working really well with your freelancers and that you’re getting them to leave reviews on your profile.

Pretty much this is Upwork’s way of making it a two-way marketplace, similar to an Uber driver versus an Uber rider. Both people want to be on their best behavior because that’s, what’s going to be the best outcome for both people involved. So make sure that you build up your profile in the case where you haven’t already, and in the case where you haven’t already, all you need to do is make sure that you’re a friendly and cordial client as you’re ramping up your first projects, you’ll start to build up that profile gradually. And then over time, you’re going to have a much stronger profile.

Another tip that I give you is that if you want to get really fast feedback quickly, you can always break down your projects into smaller tasks. And then from there wrap-up small projects, one by one to accrue a ton of feedback at once.

Tip 8: Be constantly communicative and set expectations early

My eighth tip for you today is to make sure that you’re being communicative and setting expectations early. At this point, people should have a clear understanding of exactly what they’re applying to in your RFP, but it’s also really important that you communicate what else is important to you as a client.

So that means things like how often you’d like them to be in communication with you as well as when you’d like particular deliverables sent to you by and so on.

So by having these sorts of expectations clearly, you’re going to avoid any mishaps that you might have with your freelancers.

Tip 9: Be respectful and build trust over time

The ninth tip that I have for you is to make sure that you’re being respectful and building trust over time. A lot of times people think of freelancers or contractors as just part-time work, that they can treat really poorly. And I can’t stress how bad that is in terms of getting the best freelancers for your budget, as well as for your projects.

People don’t want to work for people that are mean or just inconsiderate in terms of them as people. So remember that the freelancer you’re working with is a person too. And the best way to get somebody to want to work for you is to inspire them, to motivate them and us to make them feel supported in the work that they’re doing.

So try not to be too hard to work with because nobody’s going to stick with you that way. And you’re definitely not going to get the best freelance talent.

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