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I am both an employer and a developer on freelancer.com so I can provide some insights from both perspectives.
For employers it all boils down to experience. If you are an employer without any prior IT experience (which is most likely) you might not know what to write, or what you need. By writing "I need someone to make me a website" you're basically saying: "I need a car" . What type of car? Brand? Options? Extra's? Does it need to drive? Is it a museum piece. Will you come pick it up?
Specifying what you need is only the first start. By writing up a good project brief, a brief containing specific information to as 'what you need on which page and why', you'll automatically attract better bids.
Once you have a proper brief, the filtering begins. Within a few seconds of placing your project, you'll receive ten if not fifty bids. Discard these bids right away, they are automatic bids by people and/or bots. These people try to bid as much as they can automatically without reading your project brief and hope you'll choose them. Another trick I've used is to attach the project specification as a PDF to the project brief. In the PDF mention: "you should reply in your bid with 'i actually read the pdf' in order to qualify for this job". This will also filter out people who bid without even reading the work that needs to be done.
After filtering out the first 50 or so, it's time to really go through the list of freelancers. Freelancer.com offers excellent ways for freelancers to showcase their skills: 1) Feedback, 2) A personal profile 3) A personal showcase and 4) Freelancer exams. These items will help you to create a broader profile of the person trying to score the job.
Please keep in mind that there are different types of freelancer. Me, I'm a 1-man team, I moonlight, so I only work in the evenings. There are complete businesses on here with teams of 100 people and larger. Choose the right person right there, or use the recruiter feature of freelancer.com.
Alternatively (and I've done this before), hire an expert freelancer to sift through the entries for you, and ask the bidders to propose a write-up of what they will build, and a planning with that. Your expert freelancer will then help you to find the right person.
It's up to the job. The larger the job, the bigger the risks. Good luck find the right person!
The best way to find an experienced and good freelancer is by eliminating those you would not want to bid. You can eliminate those you do not want in several ways:
o You should take a look at the freelancer.com community section, which contains articles in different categories. Take a look at the category you want, scan through the articles available and then check out the writer of the content you like best. There's a Hire Me button you could use. Alternatively, you can contact that freelancer via the chat platform and discuss terms.
o You can also use the recruiter feature of freelancer.com. Freelancers who qualify for this feature are usually the best and the highest rated. The freelancer recruiter will work to ensure you get the best of the best and thus eliminate all the lower ranked freelancers.
o You could limit bids to freelancers who have taken exams of the subjects related to your project. That way, those who do not have proven skills will automatically be excluded.
o You could also sift through all the bids and shortlist those with the highest ratings and the most positive reviews.
The above are the available ways to find the best freelancers in the most organized and productive way possible.
Las3r gave an excellent answer, I would just add a couple more things.
1. Ask your short list of freelancers to send you their standard terms and conditions. Any professional freelancer will have these ready and waiting to send as part of every project discussion. Discard any freelancer who says they don't have any, or don't need any. You need to set the terms of the project before you start anyway, put this onus upon the freelancer a final quality check.
2. Ask the freelancer to give you assurances that they will not be farming the work out to other freelancers unless agreed upon prior to project commencement. Make the final milestone payment dependent on this, and state quite clearly that if you discover that work has been farmed out, you will consider it a breech of project terms and the final milestone will not be paid. This will help to prevent you from falling fowl of one of the many users here who simply pull in projects and re-post them on other sites to get the work done cheaper, then passed back to you.
Here are (extensive) Guidelines to finding the perfect freelancer for you:
Over the last couple of months, I've been busy with long-term projects and so I only bid on small jobs for quick extra income. As a result, I had a few potential clients who I had to send off to other freelancers because the project description detailed a small job but it was really a sample for a much bigger one. They'd ask me if had any recommendations on how to pick someone, and it happened often enough that I got tired of repeating myself and wrote the above document to just send the link.
I think you should check freelancer's profile . What is his completion rate. What other employers say about him. What review stars he / she has. Does he work in timely manner etc. Also does he have qualifications for succesfully completing your project.1 mentions j'aime
Competitions - you see the Freelancers ability to interpret a brief and deliver upfront. Equally, from the freelancer's perspective - you get feel for the client, the opportunity to experience first hand weather or not you're right for the job and (on a guaranteed competition) the assiduity the money's in the pot and the pot isn't going to walk away.
*Always* go for contests. Win-win, both sides.