How to Choose the Best Freelancer Project Proposals When You’re Short on Time

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So you need help, but you don’t have time to review the stack of project proposals generated from your awesome job post? You’re not alone. Here are some tried and true tips to quickly single out the top freelancer for your project.

Look for proposal must-haves

This is the ruthless culling step that should shorten your initial stack. Toss out any proposals that don’t meet your list of must-have requirements. This may be skills like a specific language, certification, or availability if you’re on a tight deadline. It can also be how their proposal’s written. If you’re looking for a copywriter, you probably don’t want to consider a proposal that’s full of typos or disorganized.

PRO TIP: If you need someone detailed and thorough, add a little test to your job post. It should be simple like, “Add the word ‘blue’ to the first line of your cover letter when responding.” Anyone who doesn’t do so may not be as detailed as you need, so you can toss out those proposals.

Is the freelancer familiar with your project type?

A profile is helpful, but sometimes you need more specifics to feel certain about your choice. Here are some ways a freelancer can demonstrate experience:

  1. Look for similar projects, and projects in related industries, in the freelancer’s portfolio or attached samples.
  2. Does the freelancer mention experience with related projects in their proposal? If so, what projects did they previously complete? What were the project’s goals and results? What other skills did the talent bring to the project?
  3. Do they ask pertinent questions about the project details? An experienced freelancer knows what details they need to understand the project scope better. And their questions can indicate how they may approach your project.

PRO TIP: Some professionals may have years of relevant experience working for a company, and be new to freelancing. If you’re sourcing through a freelancer website like Upwork, be sure to look at their entire work history, not just the projects posted on their freelancer profile.

Does their approach work for you?

Sometimes, the freelancer explains how they may approach your project. This can give you insight into how organized, thorough, or creative they are. It can also show if they’re the right fit for your project. If the talent requires a lengthy turnaround time, but you have a tight deadline, they may not be a good match.

Check out their freelancer profile

By now, you may have narrowed your pile down to a handful of proposals. This is a good time to look at freelancer profiles for other data. When you create a project on freelancer websites, you’ll often see helpful details such as past project ratings and comments from clients, additional certifications, and so on.

Some sites make it easier for you to filter by skills and job success scores on past projects. Upwork allows you to search for those who earned Rising Talent or Top Rated status. You can also search by skills-based badges like HubSpot’s inbound marketing certification. Below is an example of a freelancer profile on Upwork.

A freelancer’s profile on Upwork is your first look at a freelancer’s talent, experience, and ability to communicate. Here are some of things to check out: Skills, overview, work history, feedback from other clients, and other considerations such as language skills and the time zone theyre in.

How to consider project proposal rates

If a proposal quotes a set price without understanding the scope of your project, be wary. Job posts don’t always include all possible project details necessary for determining the price. Many experienced freelancers ask a few more questions about a project before they can provide an accurate quote. However, even without details, they may provide an estimate range or hourly rate with estimated hours. That will give you an idea if the talent falls within your budget.

PRO TIP: Don’t judge by price alone. Choosing someone who’s low-priced over someone experienced can cost you more in the end. If your project requires more revisions, it not only costs your staff more time, it also adds hours to the project. Or worse, you may have to start the project over with another freelancer.

Are interviews dead?

After taking the steps above, you should have a shortlist of your top two to three proposals. Some companies may set up interviews to shorten the list down to the top one to three freelancers.

Other companies think they can engage the best talent without interviews, by assigning freelancers a paid, smaller project. Then possibly interview the finalist afterwards before assigning them a larger project.

Whether you interview or not is up to you. If you schedule an interview, which is always a good practice, video interviews are usually best. Because freelancers work remotely, video is a great way to “meet” them. When scheduling interviews, remember to convert your time zone to choose a convenient time for both of you.

PRO TIP: For interview questions, and answers to look for, check out this handy list of sample interview questions by job type.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

When you’re busy, it can seem stressful making time to choose the right freelancer. But it’s better to get it done soon, so they can help ease your workload. Use the tips above to shorten the process.


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Author: Brenda Do

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