10 Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Freelancer Remotely [CHECKLIST]

April 2021

In the last 12 months, our agency has worked with more than 50 freelancers. Fifty. And we found almost all of them unsuitable for the job. 

Going through dozens of freelancer test projects and assignments to find someone who could meet our expectations was time-consuming, costly, and exhausting. We want to save you that hassle, so based on our experience, we made this quick checklist for anyone interested in hiring freelancers to work remotely.

Hiring a freelancer? Look for those ten qualities

Hiring freelancers who work from home or anywhere is a big challenge, partly because employers tend to concentrate solely on technical skills or experience. So if you want to know how to hire a freelancer for your remote team without repeating our mistakes, pay attention to the following essential features:

1. Responsiveness

Since our agency works remotely, communication and responsiveness are key in keeping the projects on track. When a freelancer should be available but suddenly doesn’t respond to our emails, chat messages, calls, texts... (type any channel here), we usually call it quits on such cooperation. 

Everyone is entitled to take a break from work now and then (and we encourage you to do this often!). But we would appreciate a few days’ notice when someone knows they won’t be available to take on new project work. Mutual respect and accountability are essential when hiring freelancers and working remotely with them.

2. Effective written communication

In an asynchronous remote work setting, most communication is via written media. That’s why the ability to convey a message quickly is essential. We document all project tasks on Asana and attach screenshots and images where necessary to eliminate needless meetings and improve the communication flow. 

We are happy to discuss details on video calls if needed, but we’re trying to keep them to a minimum, as a rule, to remove distractions. To ensure high-impact work, our freelancers must be efficient communicators who don’t struggle with getting their points across. 

3. High-quality standards

The fact that a freelancer works in the comfort of their own home should have no bearing on the delivered work quality. We can’t and won’t accept anything below the assumed company standard, and we require every person on our team to provide excellent service consistently.

Here’s the deal - we don’t micromanage, and we’re not interested in hovering over a freelancer’s shoulder, checking up on his or her every move. In return, all freelancers working with us should work independently, without too much hand-holding and supervision. If they don’t understand the brief, we expect them to be proactive and get in touch with the person who assigned the task to get more details before going on with their work. 

4. Fast turnarounds

At 6Minded, every freelancer has a small but significant part to play in a larger project. We appreciate as fast a turnaround as possible so that the next person can start working on the following stage of the project. If a person cannot deliver their batch of work quickly enough, we expect them to let us know about it as soon as possible so that we can look for a replacement. 

As freelancers, we genuinely understand how crucial it is to set achievable deadlines and meet them. And we expect people we work with to do the same. In return, we apply the same rule to payments — when we get invoiced for someone’s work, we immediately settle the bill.

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5. Excellent organizational skills

If a freelancer works with multiple clients simultaneously, it is essential to ensure they can handle all work before agreeing to a project. 

What’s our suggestion? Here are a few tips that we find useful when organizing our own work:

  • Arranging inbox into folders,
  • Making a list of priorities (and sticking to it!),
  • Ensuring enough safety margin for each client,
  • Building assertiveness to give up on certain projects or suggest a more realistic deadline.

6. Accountability

When a person works as a freelancer, temporary issues with the internet provider or an unexpected visit from a mother-in-law are no valid excuses for not meeting a deadline. If our freelancer falls ill and has a deadline coming in two days, they must inform us in advance that they won’t be able to complete the assigned task on time. 

An email or a text message is enough as long as we know something happened. This way, we have time to develop a backup plan. Our clients pay us to get things done, but it isn’t the end of the world when an unexpected happens. We need to be aware of the issue to find a workaround. 

7. Good manners

Just because freelancers don’t meet face to face doesn’t mean they shouldn’t behave respectfully towards their team and our clients. Especially as we communicate online, frustration, annoyance, and foul language are unacceptable and must give way to politeness and civility. 

8. Respect for the client

It’s easy to get impatient when dealing with some clients who don’t know what they want. But while in real life, the customer may not always be right, a freelancer must know how to communicate that. 

Being honest and being blunt are two different things. Freelancers must learn how to tell between the two; otherwise, they will get into big trouble. If you work with us, the moment you offend or disrespect a client, we will have to part ways. Insults are a sign of helplessness and incompetence. And we don’t want anything to do with them.

9. Respect for oneself

Remember that respect is mutual. So we won’t accept an insolent behavior of a customer towards anybody on our team. 

If any person working with us feels that a customer treats them badly, we want to know about it. Should this happen, a freelancer should report it to us immediately, and we will look into the matter to be resolved. Even if it means letting go of a client.

10. Good grasp of project management and collaboration tools

Project management, social media updates, customer calls, and UX designs; in 2021, a freelancer has a dedicated tool for everything. At 6Minded, we use plenty of online tools. Read about what apps we use for delivering projects.

Internally, we seldom use emails. And it’s the same in other agencies, too. Creative and software freelancers have no choice but to get familiar with the above tools to work faster and more efficiently. Fortunately, all of these applications are pretty straightforward to use. 

Hiring freelancers for remote work—skills aren't everything

Following our (extensive) real-life project experience, we can say this—hiring a freelancer to deliver projects remotely shouldn't be only about evaluating their practical skills.

Work ethics, accountability, rapport with team members and customers, and knowing how to set boundaries are equally important in the long run. Without them, communication falters, responsibilities blur, and project hiccups and delays pile up. To avoid that and find a remote freelancer who will deliver for the long haul, check if they meet the above standards.


Joanna Borkowska

Head of Content at 6Minded, Joanna has +13 years of experience in content creation for IT/Tech companies. Technical writer, software trainer, marketing manager, translator + copywriter - she's been there, done that. Now, she focuses mostly on crafting content marketing strategies, producing copy for websites and blogs, and managing a team of talented content creators. That is, if she's not currently roaming the jungle or binging on true crime docs.

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