For small businesses, a high-quality web presence is absolutely essential in order to effectively compete in today’s marketplace. Thinking you can rely solely on local customers via word of mouth is a recipe for disaster.
Furthermore, you need a website that’s built well. Last year, a report found that 42% of consumers were not likely to purchase from a small business that had an unprofessional website.
Given this statistic, you may feel inclined to go with a large web development agency to help you build a site. However, going with a freelance developer is now commonplace and comes with a number of benefits.
But before you go out and hire the first freelance web developer you find, keep reading. There are some things you need to consider before making your choice.
1. Look at Samples Before Your Hire
You wouldn’t buy a car before test driving it. The same applies when hiring a freelancer.
When looking at different candidates, it’s imperative you examine their portfolio. If they can’t provide examples, it’s probably best to keep looking.
You should also look for someone who’s done work similar to the project they’re about to take on for you. It’s also important to not only take the appearance of their previous work into account. Pay attention to the way their sites function as well.
2. Ask for References
In addition to looking at past work, you need to ask for references. This may seem like a step one takes when hiring a full-time employee, but it also applies to freelancers as well.
Part of working with an independent developer also involves non-technical matters such as reliability and strong communication skills. It benefits you to find out if they’re going to be a good fit with your team.
A professional freelancer should have no problem providing references. Plus, a long list of past clients is proof of their success.
3. Make Sure the Project Scope is Clear
Before you come to an agreement with a freelancer, it’s important both parties understand what’s expected of them. In fact, no work should start until the developer knows exactly what’s required for your website.
It’s also important to discuss timelines. Many freelancers have a number of clients, meaning they have schedule limitations. Make sure the developer you hire is certain they can provide deliverables in a timely fashion.
4. Utilize Technology Marketplaces
In response to the boom in tech freelancers, many online marketplaces have popped up. These are channels through which independent workers and businesses can network with one another.
What’s great about these marketplaces is they offer a large pool of freelancers and can place them based on industry and specific need.
For example, this company helps people hire coders based on their knowledge and skillset.
5. Don’t Hire Based on Cheap Rates
As a small business owner, you may try to save a few bucks by going with the cheapest freelancer you find. Unfortunately, what you may end up with is a cheap website.
You’re better off spending more for a seasoned developer who’s going to build a site that looks great and functions well. Plus, poor coding can hurt your rankings in search engines, so it’s important your developer knows what they’re doing.
Keep in mind that many developers are willing to negotiate rates with you. Don’t throw in the towel because their initial price is too steep.
6. Interview All Candidates
If you’ve corresponded with a candidate over the phone and through email, before making a final decision you need to conduct an in-person interview. It’s important you get a sense of what type of personality your freelancer has and if they’ll work well for your business, even if only for a short time.
If an in-person interview isn’t possible, have a video conference with them. The point is that you make a human connection.
Even when a developer looks perfect on paper, you can tell a lot more with a face-to-face conversation.
7. Go Local
It’s entirely possible for web developers to work on your site remotely. However, hiring someone in your area has some benefits.
If regular communication is essential to the project, working with someone local is much easier. You may want to have regular meetings to discuss project details and need your developer onsite to go over concepts.
You may also need your developer to work with your marketing team or other departments to implement necessary features on the site.
8. Sample Their Skills
We discussed looking at a candidate’s portfolio, but you may not feel comfortable with hiring them based solely on past work.
In this case, you may want them to complete a small sample assignment to get a sense of their ability. This should be something minor that won’t take too much time but that challenges your candidate.
You should offer a small payment for the sample work, as freelancers typically don’t like working for free.
9. Agree on Ownership of the Website
Before making a hire, it’s important to discuss the ownership rights of the site once it’s complete.
It’s also a good idea to have a contract in place that stipulates the ownership agreement. This helps protect you from any legal issues down the road.
10. Protect Yourself
It’s possible to hire a freelancer who’s in competition with your business. They may have worked or are currently working for your competitors or clients, which poses a conflict of interest.
To ensure they don’t access or use sensitive business information, you should consider having them sign a non-disclosure agreement. This protects you by ensuring they don’t work for your competition or clients for a specified amount of time.
Find the Best Freelance Developer for Your Business
Your online presence has a huge impact on your business reputation and revenue stream. It’s important you’re working with a professional freelance developer who uses up-to-date, clean coding techniques.
It’s also important you find someone with the right personality for your business. Taking the time to consider the tips above will result in a long-term business relationship with a great developer.
For more articles on how to make your small business as good as it can be, check out our blog.