How can I judge a freelancer’s abilities?

Selecting a freelancer isn’t always easy, especially if you’re hiring remotely. You might be missing all the safety nets you have when hiring a full-time employee – whether it’s a few interviews or the ability to get references off a past employer. You still want to be sure a freelancer’s work is good and that they can do what they say. So how do you judge a freelancer’s abilities ahead of time?

Look at their portfolio

Creatives don’t often have a traditional CV, but they probably do have a portfolio. If they don’t, it’s a bit of a red flag, so ask to see it. Is their work of a high enough standard for what you need? It’s also important to check if they’re experienced in the type of work you need doing. For instance, a fine artist might be phenomenal at oil paintings, but those aren’t the key skills needed to design a pitch deck. So to judge a freelancer’s portfolio, there are two questions to bear in mind:

Is their work good? 

Is their work relevant to my project?

If their portfolio is a bit empty, ask if they’ve got any other samples they can show you. You shouldn’t ask for work on spec though. You wouldn’t want to work for free and neither does a freelancer. If you aren’t sure, it’s better to look elsewhere than ask for free work that you might not even use. Or set a smaller project but pay them for it.

After you’ve identified several freelancers that possess the skills you need, look at their portfolios closely. Most importantly, what’s their track record like? How long have they been on the site? What is their rating? How much money have they collected? Have any of their clients hired them more than once? If they have repeat business, that’s a great sign. – Steven Key 5 Guidelines to Maximize Freelance Employees.

Ask for references

It might be clear from their portfolio who they’ve worked for in the past. If not, ask for a client history and who they’ve worked for most recently. With the freelancer’s permission, you can then contact these clients to get a reference. But only if you’ve got permission.

Getting direct feedback from a past client is a good way to judge a freelancer’s ability. You can ask if they fulfilled the requirements of the brief and whether they finished on time. These are things a freelancer won’t necessarily tell you themselves, so an objective view can be really helpful.


Often freelancers will have a testimonials section on their website, which saves you the hassle of trying to get in touch with past clients yourselves.


Freelance sites will often have a ratings system and it’s really easy to see who a creative has worked with before and what they thought of the work.



Although five rounds of interviews might be a tad excessive for a 2 hour project, it can be useful to have an interview (even if it’s a pretty informal one) with a freelancer before you hire them. Although you’ve probably seen their portfolio, a chat by phone or Skype gives you the chance to ask them about their work in more depth. You can figure out what they like working on and what aspects of projects they struggle with.

It’s always a good idea to take the time to talk to any freelancer you hire before the work starts. You can talk through the project brief in more depth to make sure they understand everything and judge whether they have the right skills for the job. Check out our article for some ideas about what you should ask them.


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Becca is the Marketing Executive at Twine. She loves literature, music, film and make-up. She spends a lot of time complaining about the mismatched angles of her winged eyeliner and stalking drag queens on Instagram. Otherwise, she’s helping Joe by writing blog posts and keeping Twine’s social media running.