man on laptop hiring a freelance contractor

How to hire freelancers and overseas contractors in 4 steps

Here’s how I’ve done it:

Oftentimes, as digital marketers and business owners we need some kind of work done. And frequently, hiring a full-time staff member just doesn’t make financial sense. That’s when knowing how to hire a freelancer comes in handy. If you have one-time projects a freelancer could definitely be a good solution. I use 3 channels for finding great freelancers and subcontractors:



Instructions and best practices for hiring through each channel is outlined below: 

Stages of hiring

  1. Create a job posting
  2. Send them content to study
  3. Interview via Skype*
  4. Assign simple test project

*Keep in mind here that some overseas folks may not be as confident on skype/Zoom — and I don’t always need them to be. the contractor sometimes communicate well via text but not video. May cost some opportunities if this is a step and may not be needed depending on the role.

Roles for VAs

  1. Video Editor ($4-$6 per hour DOE)
    1. Take raw videos and upload to YouTube/Vimeo
    2. Chop them up, edit, caption effects
    3. Boost and tune ads based on performance
  2. Operations specialist ($8-$12 per hour DOE)
    1. Onboard new clients and specialists
    2. Follow up on dropped items
    3. Schedule meetings and reminders
    4. Update DE Way
  3. Content specialist ($4-$6 per hour DOE)
    1. Transcriptions with editorial
    2. Lightweight editorial and coordination – blogs, interviews, webinar summaries, topic wheels, buyer persona
    3. Gather content to assemble Topic Wheel and other components of the client and internal content library
  4. Designer ($4-$6 per hour DOE)
    1. Create custom graphics for social media, blogs, emails 
    2. Support our in-house team of designers and report to Kari and Ashley
    3. Email template design and revisions
    4. Landing page and web page design
  5. WordPress VA ($4-$6 per hour DOE)
    1. Plugin research, installation and updates
    2. Help Client Care team with site updates
    3. Regression testing
    4. Knowledge of html, css, js and php
    5. Ability to use FTP to manage files
  6. Community Management ($4-$6 per hour DOE)
    1. Lightweight response on Facebook, LinkedIn, blog, Twitter, etc…
    2. Help users with basic questions – sending them to relevant articles, videos and courses
  7. Dashboard engineering ($6-$8 per hour DOE)
    1. Implement plumbing on new client websites
    2. HubSpot technical set-up
    3. Zapier creation as needed
    4. Manage if/then triggers in logic builder
    5. Configure new websites for clients and specialists
    6. Identify and implement website Schema and structured data

Step 1 – Create a job posting 

In order to get a quality VA, you need to make a job post that communicates all the tasks you need them to do regularly as well as relay expectations you have of them. If done correctly, you’ll be able to weed out serious candidates from pretenders. Only serious ones will read a lengthy job post thoroughly.  Templates available by emailing me.

It’s important that you include an accurate wage. The estimated hourly rate can be found for each job above. Remember…the VA’s will have opportunities to increase their hourly rate as they prove themselves to DE and learn new skills.

We put a ton of detail in our postings, especially with article links and a codeword for them to use in the subject line of their initial response. 

RABBIT is the one for our Video VA and HEDGEHOG is for the designer va . All keywords:

JobInitial RoundSecond RoundLast Round
Dashboard EngineerKoaloLemurTarsier
Community ManagerBeaverOtterHoney Badger
Job and Interview matrix

Gmail sorts by threads and by subject lines, so they automatically group responses. 50% get knocked out instantly, but sometimes we can make an exception.

Stage 2 – Send them content to study

This allows us to test:

  • How well they grasp concepts
  • Their english
  • How fast they can take action

Of the initial cut, we look to see if they have personalized their response. Another 50% of that gets knocked out.

Of the most promising remainder, we look at:

# Did they include a one minute video?

# How good is their English?

# How strong is their portfolio and profile?

# Do they have a cheerful, positive personality?

Maybe means no– so if not HECK YES, then NO, since there are so many amazing ones.

Then we provide one sentence of personalization, not just to show we care, but to ask them follow-up clarification questions. And then we paste in a canned note, for more content to consume and another video to make. Example:

Watch this video to carefully understand what we do and why so many companies want to work with us:

Then make a one minute video about what you’ve learned, posting it to your profile and including the video link.

Start a new thread with the subject line including [keyword] with a link to your video. 

This is how we’ll evaluate your ability to learn quickly, follow directions and take action. 

Stage 3 – Interview via Skype (or Zoom)

  • Ask questions over the content you had them review
  • Ask other intelligent questions that correlate with our niche

Stage 4 – Assign them a simple test project

Use this to test their ability to execute with instructions. If they pass, they are HIRED!

Of the 5% that pass this filter we are reasonably certain they would be great employees.

However, we want our internal people to screen them and pick 3-4 of the remainder to hire.

Of course, you don’t have to hire 3-4 people– you could do more or less based your needs. &  

Websites such as these are great for hiring virtual assistants on a contractual basis. You pay x amount of dollars for one project which will take x amount of hours for the VA to complete. This is a great solution for one-off projects, but not always long term engagements. 

Stages of hiring

  1. Post a Job
  2. Review Proposals
  3. Interview via Skype
  4. Get started


When writing a project description, you just need to remember RTT: Results, Targets, Time.

Results: What do you need done? Specify all services and deliverables. Remember to focus on the work, not the worker.


No:  Insightful, creative copywriter to write articles for our blog.

Yes: Write 500-word article about contingent workforce trends.

Targets: When do you need it? Specify any deadlines for deliverables.


No: Attend meetings, be available for last-minute rushes, and a team player.

Yes: Deliver first draft by November 15, 2016, timeline requested for final draft.

Time: What are the start and end dates? If you’re unsure, you can write “not sure” on the post. Note: In some countries, an open-ended date can weigh against independent contractor classification. If you’re not sure of a realistic end date, feel free to ask the freelancer to provide the duration in their proposal, so you can include that in the contract offer.


No:  Project is potentially ongoing

Yes: Start date: November 1, 2016. End date: December 1, 2016


We need a highly-creative graphic artist who can turn projects around quickly. Must have at least 3 years of agency and retail industry experience. The graphic artist will provide graphics production or audio and video elements for training assets or other company projects as needed. And design and create original material using basic elements of graphic design and media development typically creating moderately complex assets.


Prepare an infographic describing the company’s enterprise service. All background information and statistics will be provided. The design should represent the shift to “digital” and be creative, engaging and informative. We need the final infographic within one month. Freelancers are requested to provide a timeline for completing the infographic in their proposals.


Once you post a job, the system often gives you a head start by sending a shortlist of possible freelancers. You should consider past experience, subject matter expertise, reviews, ratings, and verified skills when reviewing freelancers. 

After reviewing all your submissions, invite the finalists to interview.


For sample interview questions, and answers to look for, be sure to check out the hiring guides. You’ll also get tips on how to identify—and hire—the ideal freelancer.

See a list of interview questions by job description here – 

Many companies use video interviews in their hiring process to gain a better sense of the freelancer. Especially since it may be the only time you’ll ever “meet” the remote worker. 

Ask questions over the content you had them review

Ask other intelligent questions that correlate with our niche


After you select the winning freelancer, simply click “hire” on their proposal and create the contract offer. That’s it! They’re ready to start working.

For ultimate ease, you can share documents and communicate via Drive. And securely pay the freelancer with one click of your mouse.