how to choose a freelancer on upwork

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Ready to try out Divi?

Okay, so you’re finally ready to build your website or start your project, yay! Don’t lose all that great momentum by getting bogged down trying to choose a freelancer to get the work done. There are tons and tons of freelancers on Upwork (myself included!), with a wide variety of skills and experience, at all different price points.

Pay attention to the full cost, not just the hourly cost.

This is so key and a lot of clients don’t fully realize this, I think. Many people just sort by the hourly rate and then choose one that’s reasonable for them. This is not a great idea, because hourly rate is a terrible way to choose a freelancer on Upwork. First of all, rates can vary wildly by type of project. If I’m doing a consulting call or bug fixes, that’s a very different hourly rate than an entire site build.

More importantly, experience is a huge factor here. I can probably do 5 times as much in an hour now than I could as a beginning freelancer. But my rates are not 5 times as much. So in the end, a client would be getting more work done for a lower rate, even though my hourly is higher than a beginner’s. Ask for an estimate of how many hours a project might take (but realize that estimates are just wild guesses). Even if the estimate is way off, you’ll be better off comparing the estimates than the hourly rates.

Look at their track record over time.

Upwork makes this much easier with their JSS (Job Success Score) ratings. I’ve had 100% job success for years now. It took a long time and a lot of hard work to get there, I can assure you that. So if you see a freelancer with 100%, you can trust that they’re most likely reliable. Upwork takes this very seriously, so they ding a freelancer’s JSS score for even one difficult client.

You can also look at their portfolio and testimonials. Those are things you just can’t fake, so if their ratings and portfolio look good, they can likely do the work.

Make sure they actually do what you need them to do.

I had a client hire me to rebuild his site in Divi. That’s something I’m an expert in, and I did those tasks perfectly and rebuilt the entire site under budget and ahead of schedule, even though he threw a bunch of extra pages at me last minute. That part of the project went great.

However, this client also needed an SEO expert who had experience in migrating sites. He asked me if I knew how to do that, and I was honest. I do have some very good SEO knowledge, experience, and success, for sure. But this particular tasks required the advice of a very seasoned expert in this particular topic. And I absolutely did not have that specific expertise, so I was honest about that and recommended he hire a separate expert for that aspect of the project. He chose not to do that, and instead kept asking me questions that I repeatedly told him were out of my depth. And as you can guess, that part of the project did not go so well.

So what’s the lesson here? Make sure you’re hiring a freelancer with the actual skills that you need for your project. And don’t rely on one freelancer to do everything in your business. I personally have a wide range of skills, but no one is an expert in everything.

So just make sure that you match the right freelancer with the right tasks that you need to have done for your business.

Check the freelancer’s communication.

Whenever I’m looking at AirBnBs, I make a short list of my favorites, and then I message all of the hosts. I usually ask something simple, like what floor is the apartment on, or is there a blender. The point is not to get my question answered, it’s to see how the host’s communication is. I’m looking to see how friendly and helpful they are, how quickly they respond, if they seem interested in having me as a guest. I’ve passed over apartments that seem great because the hosts weren’t able to clearly answer a question or even just because the vibes were off. To be fair, I’ve been fooled as well, most notably by one very eager host in Valencia who turned out to be a nightmare (spying on me during my stay, threatening me, it was a whole thing).

My point here is it’s the same with freelancers. Ask them a few questions and see how helpful & knowledgeable they are. Are their answers clear and polite, with correct grammar? Check out their website, does it look professional? How is the copy/ text on their site. Is it clear and well written?
I know many clients will go directly to wanting a phone or video call here, but I’m going to caution against that. The majority of your communication with your freelancer will be via email or Upwork messages. So I’d highly recommend making sure they can answer all of your questions fully, address your concerns, and communicate clearly in writing.

Weed out the spam proposals.

You’re going to get a ton of proposals from freelancers once you post your project on Upwork. That can be overwhelming. But there’s a trick for weeding them out. When you post your job, give potential freelancers a code word so that you know they read the job posting. (You’d be surprised how many people don’t read and just apply to everything!)

At the bottom of your job posting, add a line that says: put the word pineapple at the top of your proposal so I know you read this. Then, eliminate any proposals that don’t have pineapple at the top. Voila! You’ll have a manageable number of proposals to read, and quickly get rid of all the spam and people who aren’t detail oriented. You’re welcome 🙂

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