How Can You Assess Creative Potential of Freelancers

Maybe you work for an organization that’s looking to hire a graphic designer. Or, perhaps you’re a designer who wants to hire a photographer to put together some images for one of your client’s projects. One thing is certain: You need to hire a freelancer, AKA a creative subcontractor—and STAT! But don’t let your haste make for waste, as in hiring the first person who shows any interest in the project—only to figure out later she wasn’t a good fit. (Can you see the hours and money swirling down the drain?) iMarketers are experts at finding the best creatives for the job at hand. To help you find a freelancer who has the right creative potential for your gig, follow these five tips.

1. Make first contact by phone, email or LinkedIn.

Have a sub in mind? After making the initial contact, give the sub an overview of your business and client, and the type of creative work you’re looking for. Then, listen to the questions they ask, and later, note their responsiveness. If you follow up with an email, do you hear the crickets chirping? Or, do you get a quick response (we’re talking within 24 hours), one that makes you smile? How they respond to you now indicates their communication and collaboration style later. So, take note.

2. Request and review a portfolio.

Whether you’re you’re looking to hire a designer, videographer, website developer or one of the hundreds of other freelancers out there, ask her for samples of her work! This is a no brainer, and she should have them ready for your review. Just remember that many portfolio pieces are created by teams of people. Ask her what portion she was responsible for in each sample she shows you. From viewing her portfolio, you’ll get a peek at not just her talent, but also her project interests and the industries she’s worked with.

3. Make second contact via phone.

So far, you like the sub’s vibe and work samples. Now comes the phone interview, which might feel overwhelming, but is super insightful. Ignore the urge to barrage your prospect with boring interview questions. Rather, have a conversation with questions that ask them about their values and professional goals. Also, what do they understand about your business?

Here are some questions to get you started:

  •      How do you work to continuously improve your skills?
  •      How do you deal with creative rejection or heavy edits to your work?
  •      What creative accomplishment gave you the most satisfaction?
  •      How can your skills and expertise add value?
  •      How do you define success?

Listen to their answers and insert your own two cents. Remember, nobody likes a one-way conversation.

4. Challenge them with a pre-hire test.

Good conversations lead to great relationships. But before you get all gung ho about this sub, give her a test, one that will take no longer than two hours of her time. (Remember that time is money, and she’s not working for you … yet.) You can find an assortment of pre-hiring creative tests online. Find one (or modify one) that will reflect a real project you could give her in the future. Or, perhaps that hot project that’s on the front burner has a two-hour task that needs to get done. If you go this route, be sure to pay her since she’d be doing actual work for you.

5. Follow up with your final decision, to try or not to try.

By now, you should know if the sub is a go or a no-go. Congratulations if it’s the former. Finding a creative that sparkles lights up a workweek. However, if you’re not as impressed as you had hoped, it’s OK. It’s better to know now that it’s not a fit. It doesn’t mean that the time you invested was a waste. You’ll find that someone. And now you have the tools to show you how.

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