How to Hire a Freelance Web Developer for Your Project


Many business owners like the idea of hiring a freelance web developer for their business website or online store. The greatest temptation, of course, lies in the potential for massive savings compared to what web development companies charge. However, if you make the wrong choice, hiring a freelance web developer can turn out to be costlier than a top-tier agency. 

The problem lies in the very process of finding and choosing a freelance web developer to work with. Since you’re picking based only on the portfolio or reviews they provide, you’re operating under information asymmetry. In many cases, a great deal of intuition and emotion is included in choosing a freelancer you’re going to work with. As we all know, intuition and emotion should not play such a huge role in any segment of the business. 

To find the perfect web dev for your project, you have to eliminate all that guesswork. In order to make rational hiring decisions and help you find the best freelance web developer for your project, we have compiled this list of the most important things to look for. 

Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Company vs. Freelancer

First, you need to be clear on whether the possible shortcomings of a freelance developer (when compared to a professional company) are worth it. Let’s look at some of the major differentiating factors between professional web development agencies and freelance developers:

Professional Web Development Companies

Freelance Web Developers


Higher price (covering office space, wages and contributions, etc.)

Lower price (to be more competitive on the market)


Professional project management processes



High reliability

Lower reliability


Bigger portfolios and client lists

Limited client list


Access to top-tier programs and tools

Generally, limited access to more expensive tools and services

For bootstrapped startups and businesses, choosing a freelancer over a company will usually be a necessity, due to their lower prices. You would be hard-pressed to find an agency that charges less than an individual. Sometimes, web development companies use the tactics of predatory pricing (extra-low prices) to attract leads and potential customers while they're still new on the market, but they quickly correct those prices in order to stay profitable. 

When it comes to professionalism and reliability, the higher price that you will set aside for a company will generally be worth the extra money you pay for a web development company. Given that freelancers are usually a one-man-show, you'll have to spend some time searching for freelancers who are not currently busy with other projects. On the other hand, a company will generally always accept your project. The other side of this coin is that, in many cases, the added value of project management that companies offer is not really that valuable to small businesses. If you're looking for a simple website that presents your business, you will overpay a company for work that a freelancer could do for much less. On the other hand, if you're building a huge eCommerce website, you definitely should take advantage of companies' project management assets to make sure everything is done to the maximum quality. 

The same goes for technology. Freelancers don't usually have the same access to tools and software that big companies have, but if you don't need it, you will still pay for it. 

Turn to Reliable Marketplaces and Platforms

Now, when you decide a freelance is the right choice for your project (which is often the case), how do you go about finding them? Instead of posting a job ad and having to go through hundreds of non-relevant applications, visit a reliable and trustworthy freelance marketplaces. Here are some of the ones that are best-known in the industry:


TopTal specializes in connecting employers and business people with the top 3% talent in the tech industry. Next to web devs, you can also find designers, finance, and project managers, but unlike many other freelance platforms, you won't be struck by an avalanche of millions of freelancers from all industries. For other services you need for your website, such as writing, you can go to websites such as Studyker


If your priority is low pricing, you can find the most affordable web development freelancers on Fiverr. This website started as a platform for people offering to provide products or services for 5 US dollars (hence the name). Since then, the platform evolved and now gathers everyone from high-school coding enthusiasts looking to earn an extra buck to the world's top talent. is a great place to hire WordPress freelance developers. According to Codeable, only 2% of the developers pass the testing process. It's not a cheap platform. Codeable's rates are $70-120/hour + 17.5% commission rate, but you will get a great quality service and the job will be done right the 1st time.

Vetting Freelance Web Developers

Even with reviews, testimonials, and ratings, it can be difficult to carefully analyze a potential freelance web developer. For this reason, freelance platforms use sophisticated rating systems that serve to circumvent this issue. However, they don’t always succeed in doing so. 

Some project managers like hiring “fresh” freelancers on websites and platforms because their rates are much lower. Even if they are experienced off-site and really talented, they have to under-charge, because they’re simply inexperienced on that particular platform. 

However, when you’re picking new freelancers without any reviews, you have to be extra careful. Only consider those freelance web developers who have a rich portfolio and testimonials outside of that platform. Also, here are some red flags to look out for:

  • no personal website – you would expect a freelance web developer to have developed a website for their own business, right? If they don’t, it doesn’t have to mean that they are fake, but it’s definitely a red flag

  • no social media profiles – let’s face it, checking potential candidates’ social media profiles has become an integral part of the hiring process. You don’t have to dig deep into their social lives, but you just check to see that they’re… well, a real person. Again, there are people with no social media profiles, but it’s a red flag when someone’s trying to find clients and grow their business.

  • no portfolio – if you’re interviewing a potential freelancer you want to work with who claims to have the experience, but doesn’t have a portfolio of some of their previous projects is a giant red flag. For web devs, a portfolio is like a CV and everyone has one. Usual excuses for not having a portfolio are “that their projects are under an NDA”, which is rarely the case (since websites are online and public anyway)

  • over-promising – when a freelance web developer is promising to provide you with amazing results at a very low price, it’s time to turn on that question mark above your head. The worst part about this is that it usually sounds awesome and you rush to hire them, only to be left completely disappointed and frustrated. However lovely it may sound, ask yourself whether the promises on deliverables, deadlines, and pricing sound realistic.

Set out Clear Expectations and Requirements

Now that you've found and hired the perfect freelancer, it's time to kick off the communication about your project. Naturally, like in any other form of cooperation and work, the clearer you are with your requirements, needs, and expectations, the more likely is that the final deliverable will resemble them. 

Great freelance web developers will usually have a prepared set of questions for your expectations and the final delivery of the project. If they ask you questions about what you want, don't be afraid to go into depth, as details will provide a clearer picture of what it is exactly that you're looking for. You can even prepare an inspiration board, a collection of elements or websites that you like, so that the dev would now the style that you like or prefer. 

If you're not really sure about the direction you want to take development-wise, you can even consult with the freelancer to hear about some of their ideas or thoughts. As professionals with previous experience in similar projects, freelancers have the capacity to see the bigger picture and can really help you pinpoint what you want, even if you are not yet aware of it yourself.

Monitor the Project in Stages

When the project kicks off, you would probably refrain from checking in too often because you don't want to come off as too pushy, authoritative, or meddling with the process too much. And of course, you shouldn't go to this extreme, but you also shouldn't be ashamed to contact the freelancer mid-project to check how it's going. Doing so can have multiple benefits:

  1. Get a sense of the style – before the actual work starts, everything the freelancer says and shows about their work is pure theory. Only after the first couple of stages are done will you be able to see the style and the direction they took with your particular project.

  2. Feedback and input – as we have previously discussed, you might not even be fully clear on what you want yet. However, many web dev clients find that “must-haves”, “dos” and “don'ts” become a thousand times clearer once the project starts. If you had trouble explaining what you want to your freelancer, you can use the drafts of the project to explain what you want or don’t want on that real example. 

  3. Opportunity for tweaks – it’s much better to ask for tiny tweaks during different stages of the project than to ask for major overhauls once the final draft is delivered. Ask any freelancer – the majority of them would tell you that they would rather change course along the way

  4. Dropping the freelancer – on the off chance that you absolutely don’t like what the freelancer has done so far and you don’t trust their ability to make changes that will save the work, you can terminate your contract and pay only for that amount of work that’s been done up to that point. If you don’t monitor your project in stages, you can end up having to pay for work that you don’t like and don’t want to use. 

  5. Taking on more people – if the freelancer or you yourself get the impression that the workload is too much for one person to handle, you can take on more people in different stages of the project. It’s also much easier to onboard web developers in the early stages of the project than later on.


Hiring a freelance web developer can seem scary if it's your first time working with an independent professional. Luckily, there are websites and platforms out there that do the vetting for you, providing rating systems and testimonials you can really rely on. 

Before you start the process of searching for and hiring a freelancer, first make sure that you're okay with the possible shortcomings of a single person doing your work. Do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether your project would be better suited for an agency. 

If you decide to go with a freelancer, check out some of the top freelancing platforms and do a couple of interviews with potential candidates that fit your requirements. Never hire a freelancer without vetting them or discussing the project requirements directly with them beforehand. 

Finally, be as clear about the deliverable you're expecting as you can. Web developers are not thought readers and will create work based solely on your input, so make sure it's precise and visual. 

Author Bio

Marques Coleman is a professional essay writer and researcher working with TopEssayWriting and ClassyEssay to provide students with the best papers for their coursework. Next to academia, Marques also writes content for the web and enjoys sharing advice and tips with fellow writers and academics. In his spare time, he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo.

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