Once you have one or two freelancers that are short-listed, it’s time to offer a paid trial project. One of the best things about hiring a freelancer is the fact that you can always ask them to work on a trial project which will give you a chance to see how they work, what they’re like with deadlines, the quality of their work and how well you can both work together.
A trial project has been deemed as one of the most effective ways to feel entirely comfortable with your hiring decision and is the best way to reduce making a bad hire.
Unlike a full-time hire where a wrong hiring decision can feel irreversible and have expensive repercussions, the ability to try before you buy is one of the many benefits of working with a freelancer. For full-time employees, there usually are different ways you can run a trial period, either by hiring them on probation, conducting pre-employment tests, or putting them to work on one project.
Pre-employment tests (such as job knowledge tests, integrity tests, personality tests or cognitive ability tests) have always been surrounded by controversy. Some companies believe that they’re a great way to test whether or not the candidate is a right fit, while other companies think that the tests could be wildly inaccurate.
For freelancers, it’s different. Instead of a probation period or a pre-employment test, you directly put them on a task that you need and wait for them to submit so you can assess whether or not they’re the right candidate.
You will most probably have two or three candidates sending you in their trial samples, which will give you an idea which freelancer you should hire in the end.
Many clients believe that a trial project is a waste of time and think that, since they’ve already interviewed and reviewed the candidate, it’s enough to decide whether or not this candidate is a good fit. While this may be true for freelance writers, for example, it is entirely different for marketing specialists.
These five tips can help you get started with a trial project.
After you’ve decided that you want to do a test run with a Freelancer, the next step is setting up your Trial Project.
You don’t need to build the process of setting up a trial project from scratch. Use this predefined workflow to create your first trial project for a freelancer.
The first step of preparing a trial project is finding out what you’ll be sending them. You will need to find something that is remarkably similar to your ongoing project, or even a part of it. This is the only way you’ll get to see whether the freelancer is a good fit for your business or not. For example, if you need a content marketer to write an ebook, ask them to submit the first chapter.
Generally, have your project broken into milestones and clearly state that the first milestone is the trial.
If you don’t want to set a separate task as a trial project, prepare milestones for your already existing project and ask the freelancer to work on the first milestone as a trial project.
You need to be setting clear expectations from the start. Let them know how you operate and how you measure success. This allows you to evaluate some skills including ownership and mastery of their projects. Make sure you communicate your goals.
You can choose one of two pricing structures – either fixed-priced or hourly. Fixed price is usually easier to set and is easily negotiable. However, an hourly contract will give you valuable information about how long the project takes in case you have underestimated or overestimated it.
That will be the hard part. You need criteria to evaluate your freelancers on, and if you end up with three excellent trial project submissions, you will need to focus on:
What were the results?
How well did they meet the expectations?
How well did they communicate throughout their entire process?
Who did you feel was the most motivated to work on this?
How well did both of you work together?
How well versed on the topic are they?
There are plenty of ways you can send in a trial project to your marketing specialist. Firstly, you can ask them to work on part of a larger project, so you get to check the quality of their work first-hand. For example, a new copywriter could write a test article for your blog.
You can also give them a task unrelated to the project so you can get a gist of how they work in general (that would also be ideal if you don’t want to share information about your project just yet.) For example,
You could also send them a list of questions they need to answer that would determine whether or not they’re the right fit.
Finally, you can always ask them to evaluate your current project status (for example, your current website, eBook, Facebook ads, email sequence etc.), and send in a brief about what they think needs to be changed. This could be in the form of Please write down suggestions on what you think needs to be changed. or Please let me know 3-5 metrics I should track, how I can track them and why?