Regardless of the business that you own, it always needs external help from people and other resources.
And irrespective of how huge your business is, you always have a window open for freelancing options.
It really doesn’t matter what kind of job you are looking to be done, there are always people outside your organization that could do the job for you.
The bigger the business and the more money involved, the more freelancers are going to throw their hats in the ring.
Freelancers are available on a wide scale. You can find them on micro-jobs sites, Facebook groups, LinkedIn, various job platforms, and a lot of other places.
Hiring freelancers is easy. Basically, all you have to do is join a freelancing group on Facebook, put down your requirements and your inbox would be full of people requesting you to hand over the gig to them.
However, when it comes to quality, a lot of them could fall short of it.
A brief backstory
Before we even start our storytelling, there are a few things we want to straighten out so that it answers any of your questions you might have ahead:
- While we actually wanted a freelancing job done, we were also considering hiring freelancers that could impress us with their work.
- If we asked for any designs or sample work, we always came through to pay the freelancers for their work. None of the designs went in vain.
- We wanted this project to be totally unique. So we didn’t accept any profiles that contacted us through any other channels like Instagram or Facebook after seeing our job postings.
As all of this is cleared, let us tell you why we started this project.
We at Dot Hacks recently launched our own eBook on SEO. As much as it meant for us, none of our team members were able to design an eBook cover because we really don’t know much about designing.
We felt the need to hire a graphics designer for the job. And truth be told, we found a lot of freelancers offering their designing services for a price. As much as we tried, we couldn’t find the designs we wanted because all of them would use copied designs one way or another.
And this isn’t something that is just specific to the graphic designing niche. We have also seen a bunch of freelance content writers paraphrasing content and providing the same content in different wordings. So, no, we couldn’t just trust anybody until we weren’t at least 90% sure that they could get the job done.
So, we decided to expand our search to a variety of networks. Rather than restricting ourselves to just Facebook or other traditional hiring platforms, we broadened our search to find the right people whose designs were good enough to be selected for our ebook cover.
We are sure just like we needed a freelancer, you might need one too. Considering the number of people that call themselves freelancers and offer nothing is a problem, we decided to make a guide on how you could hire the right freelancers for your business in case you ever need them.
Other than this case study, here are some of our statistical findings on freelancers:
- As compared to Indeed, the response rate of the candidates on LinkedIn is 2X MORE!
- A 100-200k member freelancing group on Facebook could provide up to 150 requests from freelancers in the first 24 hours.
- Fiverr has the most amount of freelancers on the platform as compared to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Indeed.
Over the course of the last few months, we talked to a bunch of freelancers and precisely asked each of them to do a specific job for us.
So, here’s how it started!
Finding the right freelancers
For anybody who is willing to find the right people for their business, you just can’t start a business, post a few job postings here and there and expect people to find you.
Sure, word of mouth or social media shares might bring in some people to you but know that almost none of them would have any idea what you are actually looking for with your job posting and would apply just because they have to get their bills paid.
With so many brands seeking freelancers and candidates, it’s common for them to hire the freelancers they shouldn’t even be working with.
Another reason you need to be picky in hiring freelancers is that while it might be a short project for them, the same project could have a massive impact on your business.
Let’s say you need a new logo for your brand. For a freelancer, it might be just like another job where they could use a random logo generator, iterate it a little and tell you it’s done. And while they have received their payment and totally forgotten about the job, your brand is being called out by people online because you have stolen somebody else’s logo. The worst part? Your brand is under fire instead of the freelancer you hired and paid to do it!
So, we considered the same scenarios and wanted to start with a simple plan – Put our hand in an ocean of freelancers on the internet and pull out the best ones.
But what we knew was that we needed our design to be professional, extraordinary, and something that catches the attention of people in the first look only.
We know this is a lot to find in design, but we wanted to do it anyway, at least for the sake of this project.
What we knew was a single designer won’t be able to provide exactly what we want, so we decided to let multiple people do the job.
For that part, we went to multiple platforms with our request. So did we get what we wanted? Let’s find out!
How to find the right freelancers?
Now when it comes to finding the right pick, we had a few qualities in consideration that we wanted the freelancers to have.
We wanted our freelancers to have a bunch of qualities that companies universally consider important before hiring anybody. Since we are sinking some money in the freelancing empire, it’s important to demand some things we consider necessary.
And if you are looking for freelancers, we are sure you will find these qualities important as well.
1. They will respect the deadlines
It goes without saying that businesses or organizations that hire freelancers require them to finish the job in due course of time.
If you want a social media poster or a blog out for, let’s say, Independence Day, you’d want it to be done before the actual event of course. In fact, the faster, the better.
Deadlines are important, in a lot of ways. Allowing an extended timeline to your freelancers could potentially take away the momentum from your entire project.
Missed deadlines could eventually be ignored (at times). For long term work, a few missed deadlines here and there isn’t a big deal. But if it becomes a routine, it becomes a problem.
A missed deadline won’t hurt the freelancer as much as it hurts your businesses. For them, it’s some money lost, but for you, it could be a huge project that’s way overdue past its time.
Here’s how you know a freelancer isn’t perfect for your job:
- They often deliver work past deadlines.
- They reply late to your messages and emails.
- They show minimum participation in the assigned project.
- They show vague responses to your input.
- They dominate your choices with theirs.
Pro Tip: From what we experienced with our freelancers so far, an experienced freelancer is going to negotiate on the deadlines. Essentially, they aren’t going to say ‘yes’ to everything. If they feel that a project might take time, they would tell you prior and ask you to push back a little on the deadline.
2. Contracts would help you get the job done
A freelancer is free to take up the job he wants. He isn’t in any contract with your company (unless you make them sign a contract). This means that they could take up side projects as well along with your project.
However, a freelancer could even push specific projects to the top of their job sheet based on the payments. If another company or client is paying the freelancer more than yours, the freelancers would focus more on their jobs than yours. Or worse, they could totally bailout without even finishing the job at all.
This leaves you high and dry without any work done. Again, this hurts your business.
To prevent something like this from happening, bind your freelancer in a contract. Signing a contract with a freelancer essentially makes them affiliated with your project. The cherry on the top would be if your freelancer is paid enough money to focus solely on your project rather than lingering around for side projects.
When signing a contract with the freelancer, try to focus on a few important things:
- The type of work that’s involved.
- The duration you would want the freelancer to work with you.
- The amount of money involved.
- The schedule of the stipend release.
Often when you hire freelancers, prepayments are often brought into the discussion. While some artists won’t ask for it, most of them would ask for prepayments.
If you prepay the entire amount, you remove the incentive for the freelancer to finish your job. And if you pay in stages, you really don’t have any guarantee that they would come through with your work done.
Freelancers ask for prepayments, especially with the new clients. This is understandable, considering they haven’t been paid in the past for their work. And since your business can’t risk losing money as well, what can you do?
However, let’s also tell you that prepayments should be AVOIDED. As much as you can.
You can avoid prepayments by signing a contract (as we talked about in our last point). Contracts bind your business and the freelancer in an agreement that you will pay the required amount only when they finish your job.
If they still don’t agree, you can prepay a part of the amount after you have seen some part of the work they are about to do.
That’s right. If you need a graphics designer, have them make a sketch. Or if you need a content writer, have them write some part of the content or send in a couple of articles written.
This not only pushes back on the prepayment, but it also makes them come through with some part of your work done. If they are serious about your gig, they will accept the request.
4. Your freelancer will adapt to your needs
If a freelancer is hired for a long term basis, he has to adapt as per the needs of your business project.
Here’s how your freelancer could be the right pick for you in terms of adaptability:
- They are adept in communication that’s related to the new projects.
- They will always clear their queries right at the beginning of the project.
- You don’t have to guide them every time a project starts. They understand it better the first time.
- With time, they will require less supervision and management.
Let’s say you have hired a content writer that has to provide weekly articles and contribute to your monthly newsletter maybe. Now if they are new, you can’t expect them to understand everything the first time only. Only after a few content audits and familiarizing with your content style are they going to be able to produce the content you want.
Not every time would the freelancer be walked through all the job specs. And if the writer isn’t able to adapt or keep up with your requirements, it’s time to consider a replacement for them.
A good freelancer is able to adhere to all your requirements without much interference. All they need is a little description of the tasks that you need to be done and they would understand it. The more time they have spent working for you, the easier it is for them to understand.
Using platforms to hire freelancers
For this part, we did some research as to what platform could be good to hire people.
But before we shortlisted hiring platforms, we had a few prerequisites:
- We worked on the condition that if the designers did good with their job, we would hire them for long-term projects.
- We wanted the design to be exclusive. This means that if the designer was given the job, they couldn’t use any eBook cover generators.
- They couldn’t use any stock images.
With these conditions put forward, we started our hunt for the right freelancers.
To straighten out our search for the right freelancers, we distributed our task into a few parts. This means we would be putting some popular platforms to our disposal in order to fulfill this search.
We used the following platforms:
- Facebook Groups
Let’s tell you what we found.
Overall Rating: 3.8/5
Indeed is a global employment-related search engine that’s meant for job candidates as well as employers to find the right fit for their job.
Indeed has over 100 million resumes on the site. That means we would have a good chance of finding the right freelancer for our job, right?
After signing up for an employer account, we quickly wrote our job description and expected people to pour in.
And within 3 days of putting out the job description, we got 23 candidates that showed interest in our job.
Now, 23 people are a considerable number of candidates to choose from. So, we quickly paused the job opening status and decided to talk to the interested candidates first.
It was time to review them.
The Review process
We knew talking to these candidates won’t be that easy since everybody had a different perception of our request based on the job description.
Since we are talking about graphic designing, judging the candidates just based on their resumes wasn’t enough. Not by a long shot.
We were confused about who to choose or reject.
So, we decided to talk to every single one of them, draft the same task for everybody, and see if they are interested.
We asked them to provide an eBook cover with the following conditions in mind:
- Don’t use ebooks thumbnails from Google
- Make the cover attractive
- Use your own headlines.
This is how it was drafted:
We even sent them a few reference pics, so we think it was self-explanatory to them as to what type of design we were looking for.
Among the 23 candidates that applied for the job, only 5 people took the job.
We don’t know if the candidates didn’t understand our request, didn’t want to send in the samples, or just didn’t know how to do the job. But what we understood was that we had 5 opportunities in the form of 5 people that could provide us the designs we might be looking for.
After about a week of waiting, 4 people delivered their designs. Even after a week of wait, the designs were not at all what we wanted.
Since our demand was for simple yet original designs, none of the designers (except one) were able to come through with something that we liked.
The designs were basic, the choice of fonts used was bad and the worst part is that all the designs were made on stock images of ebooks that are honestly available everywhere.
Here’s one of the designs:
Definitely not what we wanted. But did find a good eBook cover from a designer that provided us with a bunch of options.
Overall, Indeed did provide us a good number of options. However, due to the less number of designs that we received, we decided to put other platforms to test as well.
2. Facebook Groups
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
We know that with Facebook, you have more chances of losing your money than any other platform for a fact.
Facebook is an enormous platform. There are thousands of freelancers offering nothing. Out of the hundreds of options of freelancers, only a couple of them knows what you actually want.
For the sake of this experiment, we still wanted to try it out.
Facebook has this feature called the ‘Groups’ that allow you to join any kind of community you are interested in.
It doesn’t matter how much time you spend, you can’t join them all. There’s no point in doing so. But we knew that we would find a few groups around our interest. So, we decided to join them.
We went ahead and posted our design requirements in each one of these groups.
And within the first hour, we got exactly 16 people offering their services in the comments and about 10 people in our inbox requesting us to brief them on the project.
With a similar response previously on Indeed, we decided to play the same strategy as we did previously – talk to everybody, draft the same task for everybody, and see if they are interested.
Now at this point, we realized a few things that would come in handy for you too:
- If you are hiring a designer, hire them only if you are a fan of their previous work.
- If you try to convince them to make something that they have no idea about, it’s only going to waste both parties’ time.
- Ask them for previous designs and figure out if you want something similar.
- Provide them any references if you have any.
So before we could place any request, we asked them to send in some of the previous work. This allowed us to figure out if we would like their design and if we could make any changes to our design accordingly.
To be fair, a ‘few’ of them sent us beautiful designs that we absolutely loved. On the other side, ‘most’ of them sent us images from Imgur (that we realized after reverse searching the images).
With the designs similar to what we wanted, we carried on the conversation with them, sent a few possible designs we had in mind along with the references, and talked about our budget.
Side Note – The problem we faced was a few of these artists weren’t ready to make a sketch. They asked for half of the payments and that too before providing any rough layout of the design. As we mentioned above, prepayments aren’t the best of the ideas. However, out of the three artists that asked us for a prepayment (even before a sketch), we put our money on one of the artists and prepaid the artist. They received the payment and blocked us from every possible way we could contact them!
For the couple of designers that agreed to send the sketch, we discussed a few changes and finalized the design accordingly. So, they made the design accordingly.
In the end, we did manage to get a few good designs from Facebook. However, the point we still emphasize is that Facebook has a lot of freelancers that literally have nothing to offer. So, take your time to choose among the heap of freelancers available here.
Overall Rating: 4.3/5
We can’t talk about jobs and freelancers without mentioning LinkedIn, can we?
LinkedIn is one of the best professional networking sites that you can find out there. It is like Facebook for your business where you could meet a lot of people that could be interested to work with you.
LinkedIn is a great alternative for a variety of reasons. The people looking for jobs are serious about what they know, usually have some past experience and you can actually dig into their past work. Because of the detailed profiles and great reach for jobs, you can find potential matches for your job description pretty quickly.
However, for our freelancing project, we didn’t use the actual platform. Rather we use an extension from LinkedIn, the LinkedIn Pro Finder.
The Pro Finder from LinkedIn is a ‘not-so-old’ project from LinkedIn which helps bridge the gap between freelancers and business.
It’s very much like Fiverr, but instead of Fiverr (where you approach the freelancers), you have to fill in your freelancing request with a bunch of questions asked (like the type of design needed and your preferred address) and the platform would provide you with relevant freelancers in the next 24 hours.
LinkedIn is quite similar to Indeed. You start by posting a job for your business and wait for people to respond to you as shown above.
And just like Indeed, we posted our job criteria.
And the response we got from LinkedIn was CRAZY!
So many people approached in the first 2 days that we paused the job application entirely and got in contact with the people that applied first.
We got about 47 candidates that showed interest in the job posting. Almost twice as that of Indeed. And the best part was that all these candidates had a little to a lot of past experience in the graphic designing field, which made the entire hunt on LinkedIn more confusing for us since we couldn’t figure out who to pick.
So, what we decided was to sort these candidates into a list and approach only the ones that had at least 3 years of experience in the field.
We did this because LinkedIn was providing us the quality candidates. And since we had this option, why not make the most out of it?
The 3-year experience criteria were fulfilled by about 11 candidates. Narrowing down our search, we asked them if they are ready to work full-time. 6 of them agreed.
So, we decided to place our request and ask them for similar eBook designs that we had in mind.
In the end, we got great designs from LinkedIn as well. Out of the 6 designs we received, we managed to finalize 2 and store the rest in the hall of fame (if that’s even a thing for Dot Hacks down the line).
LinkedIn was great and we definitely recommend trying it if you are planning to hire experienced candidates in a short amount of time.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
We know what you are thinking, ‘There are a bunch of freelancing sites out there. Why only Fiverr?’
But at the same time, you can’t deny that most of these sites have the same working model as Fiverr, right? So, we don’t think there’s really any point to try them all.
However, there were a few other reasons why we decided to include Fiverr in this case study as well:
- Fiverr is promising. It has bridged the gap between freelancers and clients for a long time.
- Freelancers have been working through Fiverr for a long time and some have been able to generate a steady revenue stream out of it.
- 4 out of 5 times, you can find a good freelancer from Fiverr.
Now as much as We think Fiverr could be worth your time and effort, it is also such a platform that has saturated a lot now.
At one point where it used to be an exclusive platform, now freelancers just dump their services in the form of profiles, hope to catch some new fish in the form of clients, and offer them the services for almost double the price.
Don’t get us wrong, we don’t hate Fiverr. In fact, the platform has helped us a lot in the past as well. However, the number of new profiles has seemingly increased which has made this platform just like every other freelancing network.
Sliding all the pros and cons aside, Fiverr is also a distinguished platform from Indeed, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Because you don’t have to post a job here.
You are basically browsing through a catalog of relevant freelancers and choose among them.
One thing we loved about Fiverr is that it has a lot of sub-categories that align with any freelancing work you need.
So, to be more specific, we searched for ‘eBook cover designers’ rather than searching for ‘Graphic designers’.
And as soon as the results are displayed on your screen, right then and there, you can start going through a bunch of profiles that interest you.
With features like reviews (from real people), past work, and the availability of choice, we think it’s safe to consider Fiverr as one of the best freelancing networks.
Every time we got in contact with one of the freelancers, they were swift with their responses, took a lot of input from me, and provided us with designs exactly as we wanted them to.
These freelancers are ranked based on their previous work and high-quality service, these things definitely make Fiverr one of the best platforms.
Sellers here are rated as
- New Seller
- Level One Seller
- Level Two Seller
- Top-Rated Seller
For these freelancers, on-time delivery and quality service could help them achieve better seller positions.
And the better positions they have, the higher they rank among their criteria.
Sure, not everybody on Fiverr could be this amazing with their work. But since everybody is bound by this system of getting better results only when they are doing better in their previous gigs, we think you have very few chances of getting cheated at Fiverr as compared to the rest of the platforms.
So what happened at the end?
Well, putting it mildly, we managed to get some decent designs from all these platforms. And while this project took us somewhere around a month of time, we can safely say that this project was a success.
After investing a couple hundred dollars into the freelancing empire, we finally managed to get some great freelancers, build a network, and considered most of them for our future projects.
The best thing is that all these platforms were free and we managed to start this project from scratch.
Also, we used some of the designs on the ebooks that we launched. You can check them in our ebook store.
So, this concludes our case study. Before you go, you can even follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for more exclusive content. We share a lot of exclusive content out there.