Organizations looking for help with developing eLearning content would do well to tap into the fast-growing freelance market. It provides a wealth of skills and expertise that is cost-effective, flexible, and agile.

But with so much choice available, how do you ensure you hire the best eLearning freelancer?

I have pulled together this list of 10 tips on how to hire an eLearning freelancer, based on the experience of providing freelancers to fulfill eLearning projects all around the world.

1. Be ready to hire

This may sound like a statement of the obvious, but the freelance market is fast-paced, and freelancers with good skills are in high demand. That means you need to offer work that is ready to start in the next few days, not projects that are at the planning stage with a start date that could be six or seven weeks away.

2. Clearly define the task

Be crystal clear about the project and what the role is. This should provide some context about the organization, the scope of the project, and what you expect the freelancer to produce. This part of the process is critically important, as you might find you don’t need a freelancer at all—or that you need more than one. By defining the task, you define the resource capacity required.

3. Know your budget

The budget is an important filter that will help narrow down potential freelancers. Providing a range for the fee—whether it is a day rate or fixed-fee job—is a good approach, as it will mean you get interest from freelancers who will have differing skills sets and levels of expertise.

4. Set the expected time commitment

From the outset, freelancers like to know what the time commitment is likely to be for your job. It may be a few hours a week to a few days a week, and it may last a week or three months. Make sure you are clear about the immediate time commitment and whether it might flex over time. This information helps them to pick the right job, and it helps you find freelancers who can fully commit to the work.

5. Ask yourself: Do you need a freelancer on site?

Looking for people who need to be on site or at your office will dramatically reduce your choice of freelancers. So, be clear as to whether you really need freelancers to be on site, and if you do, then think about how much time you need them there. Requiring someone to be in the office one day every two weeks, versus every day of the week, will expand your choices.

6. Check out their portfolio

Gone are the days when freelancers could reasonably say that their work was hidden behind a corporate firewall or buried deep in a learning management system. Ask and expect to see one or more portfolios from a freelancer. They might have more than one portfolio showcasing their range of skills—instructional design and eLearning development, for example. Good freelancers will provide portfolios tailored to the work and skills you are looking for.

7. Set a test

You wouldn’t hire a permanent employee without assessing their skills—and the same rule applies to freelancers. Make sure to set an appropriate test or task based on the skills you are looking for. For example, a task for eLearning content development might be to make a change to the skin on a document and rewrite copy to be more scenario-led.

8. Get testimonials

Ensure you have success stories from the freelancer’s work for other clients. Freelancers need to provide evidence of the project or challenge, what they did, and the outcome. Expect to see examples of work from a range of clients—you want to see that the freelancer has worked for different organizations and across different industry sectors. Expect to see feedback from the person who hired them.

9. Communicate effectively

Set out how you would like to communicate with your freelancers for the duration of the project. This is especially important if they are based off site. Make sure you schedule regular project updates and ask your freelancers to provide a time sheet.

10. Define the tools you use

As well as setting out what tools you use for eLearning development work—such as Articulate or Captivate—make sure that you outline all the other internal communication tools that will be used on the project: Slack or Yammer, for example. This will help identify freelancers who are able to use your tools.

These 10 tips describe how to find the best eLearning freelancers for your next learning project. But remember, this is just the start of the process. Think about onboarding freelancers in the way you would onboard any full-time employee.

That means clear communication around when the job starts, what they need in advance of that happening, and what you need them to know. The more effort you put in at this stage of the process, the quicker your newly hired freelancer can get on with the job you hired them to do.