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Hiring Freelance Developers: Getting It Right the First Time

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It’s never easy to hire a professional, especially for a startup project. That’s when you need everything to be error-free and shiny from day one. Depending on the team you already have, your project’s specificity, and your business goals, you might need to hire one or more freelance developers to do some of the work you need.

For many startups, one bad experience with outsourcing affects their attitude to freelancers in general. But we know there are ways to do it right. Want to know where to search and what exactly to look for in the candidates? Let’s dig into the intricacies of finding a perfect freelance developer.

Why Should You Outsource Your Startup’s Development to Freelancers?

For lots of reasons, in-house teams are more trustworthy and effective for software projects. However, when it comes to a startup and its budget limitations, it’s more reasonable to hire outsourced professionals. Just think of all the expenses above the hourly rates you need to cover for an in-house team. This includes office overhead, insurance, and so on. This might be too much for a young project.

Freelance platform Lemon’s recent research showed that companies hire freelance developers for the following reasons:

  • Affordability. Freelancer hourly rates largely depend on their region and professional level. But regardless of these factors, hiring freelancers will cost you less than building an in-house team.
  • Flexibility. Since freelancers don’t have a typical 40-hour work week, they tend to be more flexible with their schedules. On the other hand, they can appear to be less responsible. This can make it harder to keep the process under control.
  • Variety of skills to choose from. With numerous freelance platforms, you’re not limited to an array of skills common in your area. Instead, you can find literally any technical expertise.

On top of that, some employers prefer working with a distributed team. Even though team management and developers’ questionable loyalty to a project are generally the biggest obstacles inherent in outsourcing, don’t give up on hiring freelancers straight away. Done properly, the potential benefits far outweigh the risks. 

Let’s explore where to look for and how to select freelance developers to meet your project’s needs.

Where Will You Find Your Perfect Match?

In the freelance developers research we’ve mentioned, 11 percent of respondents said they didn’t know where to find freelancers. Another 14 percent told us they never hired one because of a lack of trust and intellectual property concerns. This data illustrates that freelancing is still in its infancy.

A referral is the greatest way to find a matching talent. In fact, 81 percent of respondents told they hired freelancers through referrals. Those employers who didn’t have any experience with outsourcing said they would try if someone they knew shared positive feedback. You can reach out to your colleagues or similar projects who might have hired freelancers and ask if they could recommend someone.


Speaking of freelance websites, to find a developer whose skills and abilities you can trust, choose a platform of narrow specification. Moreover, always read about their vetting processes. For example, TopTal claims that only 3 percent of applicants pass their exhaustive skill assessment. is another platform dedicated to connecting startups with the best tech talents. Thanks to high requirements and detailed five-step vetting process, Lemon only selects developers who are at the top of their game.

How Should You Interview Your Candidates?

Needless to say, you’re devoted to your project and wish to achieve the very best with it. When you’ve already explored the freelance platforms and selected some candidates, what do you do next to ensure these people will be the right fit for you?

It’s always a good idea to conduct a technical interview yourself. But if you’re not a tech person and you don’t have a CTO or any in-house engineer, you might perform the following steps:

  • Check what types of interviews the candidate has already passed to be listed on the platform. This can establish initial trust in their skills.
  • Then, interview them explaining in detail what you expect them to accomplish. Ask them to briefly describe the technologies and methods they’re going to use.
  • Be as precise as possible when explaining the tasks and setting deadlines to make sure you’re on the same page. Discuss how you will track their progress.
  • Pay attention to their soft skills, language proficiency, cultural background, and time zone to build effective communication.

Don’t Focus on the Freelance Developer’s Technical Skills Alone

We’ve already touched upon the subject of developers’ language and communication skills. These are not to be underestimated, as the success of your project depends as much on them as on technical expertise. What else can you look for? You can research your candidates’ contribution to opensource as it might tell a lot more than their CV. Passionate developers—and you probably want one—don’t limit themselves to the jobs they are hired to do but contribute to different software solutions they have a personal interest in.


Summing Up

To find a freelance developer who’ll help take your project to the next level, you must do some research. First, explore the trusted freelance platforms and learn about their vetting process. After shortlisting some of the candidates, interview them and give them clear project guidelines. Make sure every aspect of your communication suits you: You speak the same language, the developer can explain their work processes and has a clear understanding of what you need to achieve. If you’re thorough in your search and trust your gut, hiring the perfect developer won’t take long.

About the Author

As Lemon’s content writer, Andrey writes and publishes blog articles, landing pages, and social media posts. With more than seven years of creating content and a year of editing in his background, Andrey believes he can write about anything if he has enough time to dig into the subject.

When not obsessing over conspiracies and psychological theories, Andrey draws illustrations and studies languages (mostly Japanese, but lately he’s into programming languages such as Python). And after his fiction stories were published in storybooks several times, Andrey now loves to call himself an author.

If you asked Andrey what the most important thing about him is, he’d probably say, “I’m a different person.” Whatever that means.