How to reduce the risk of hiring your first freelancer

A practical guide to reducing the risk of hiring a freelancer

Every day thousands of businesses across the UK hire a remote freelancer to help them get things done. For some, outsourcing tasks like web development, social media management and design is a must.

But if you're new to this way of working, outsourcing tasks to a freelancer might feel risky.

In this guide, there are some tactics you can use to reduce the risk of hiring a freelancer for the first time:

In this guide

How to reduce the risk of hiring a freelancer for the first time

Using shortlisting to filter your candidates

Define the project goals

The first step to reducing the perceived risk of hiring a freelancer is to shortlist. Review each application and press the 'thumbs up' shortlist button on any application you like.

project applications
Project application screen, with multiple applications

This allows you to immediately focus on the good applications and remove those you are not interested in.

shortlisted applicant
Shortlisting freelancer filters your view

After you've shortlisted, you're ready to refine your selection further.

What to look for in ratings and references

With your shortlisted candidates, ratings and references help you to reduce the risk of hiring a freelancer for the first time further by seeing reviews from other clients and employers.

Our platform offers both ratings and references.

applicant profile
Freelancer profile shows work history, references and ratings


Ratings can only be given by clients who've hired the freelancer. This ensures any ratings given to a freelancer are authentic.


References allow a freelancer to showcase work experience from outside of

We verify each reference manually to make sure references are genuine.

applicant rating
Ratings and reviews from clients are show on freelancer's profiles

What to look for in a freelancer's reviews

In both ratings and references, you should look for evidence of the traits of somebody you like to work with.

If you are hiring a freelancer for the first time, you should consider looking for somebody who's recognised for having clear, prompt communication and who has experience working with open or complicated briefs.

Interviewing tips

By this point, you will have whittled down your applicants list to, perhaps, a couple of suitable freelancers.

Now, it is time to discuss the project with your freelancers before making your selection.

Our messaging system enables you to send messages and documents back and forth quickly and easily, which is ideal for simple projects. But for more complicated projects, you may wish to arrange a call or meeting with your freelancer.

freelancer application
An easy-to-use messaging system allows you to discuss projects

Recording agreements and changes to the project

Putting any agreed changes to the scope in writing helps you to reduce risk of the project going awry, so it is strongly recommended you record any verbal agreements or changes to the project in the messaging system.

Protecting yourself with our system

We try and get out of the way of you and your freelancer working together as much as possible, but once you've found the freelancer you wish to work with, there's one final thing you need to do to help reduce any risk.

Before your freelancer does any work for you, you need to press the hire button.

Hire the freelancer
Press hire to confirm the project can go ahead

By pressing hire, you are confirming the project can go ahead and agreeing on the type of engagement, the hourly rate and the budget. Once you press hire, you are covered by our terms of service and we can provide assistance should you have a dispute with your freelancer once the project is underway.

When to use a pilot project

A pilot project is a small lead-in project. For example, before asking a designer to design you a new website, you might create a pilot project to design just the home page.

The benefits of a pilot project are:

Pilot projects can work in a number of ways, but they are usually either:

Stand alone

A stand alone pilot project is a small task, with a complete deliverable. For example, before hiring a copywriter to create a whitepaper, you could create a pilot project to create a one-page direct mail sales letter.

The sales letter is a deliverable you can use to assess the copywriter's work but it is not anything to do with the larger whitepaper project.


A lead-in pilot project is a small task where the deliverable is a component of a larger outcome. For example, before hiring a copywriter to create a whitepaper, you could create a pilot project to write the first introductory chapter.

The introductory chapter is a deliverable you can use to assess the copywriter's work and it is a component of the larger whitepaper project.


In summary, there are a number of steps and tactics you can use to reduce the risk when hiring your first freelancer.

If you are still unsure about making your first hire, you may wish to use our Pro Service, where you can benefit from working closely with one of our customer success team.

Introducing Pro

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If you haven't worked with an online, remote freelancer before you may be wondering how this would work. Can an online freelancer really do as much as in-house staff? How do I send them files?

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