Many small business owners know they need to outsource more projects to freelancers so they can focus on the work they do best. But often, they don’t know where to begin their search.

If you’re among them, the good news is it isn’t hard to find the freelance talent you need. The best place to start is with word-of-mouth referrals from other professionals you know and respect but if they cannot suggest anyone, freelance platforms can be a good alternative.

Here is a guide to some of the most established freelance platforms so you can quickly find the talented help you need—followed by some information on how to vet the freelancers you find there.


This giant global freelance marketplace, which includes accountants, designers, writers, web developers and more, is a good place to begin your search for freelancers. With ample venture capital funding, this Silicon-Valley based site makes it easy to hire freelancers, stay in compliance with labor laws and handle payments smoothly.


A close competitor to Upwork, this large site based in Sydney, Australia is very active in the U.S. It offers access to a full range of freelancers, ranging from professionals to trades people. Freelancer has been involved in some interesting creative partnerships, such as one that has enlisted tech-savvy freelancers to design tools and technology used in space travel for NASA in a series of contests.


If you need to design a logo, brochure or website, this crowdsourced site is a popular option. You can submit a request for bids by launching a contest on the site and freelancers on the platform will respond with ideas you can use—and to which you will retain the rights. The site offers plans for a variety of price ranges.


This global freelance community, which has a presence in 89 countries, offers a unique feature called “hourlies,” in which you can hire someone for a flat fee to perform a task they can do in an hour.

This new site specializes in connecting freelancers with remote and freelance jobs. Its technology alerts freelancers when a job that is a good fit for them is listed on the site. Among the fields where you can find freelance help on this site are ecommerce development, game development, writing, design and more.

Of course, just because someone is listed on a freelance site, it doesn’t mean he or she is proficient or reliable. Reviews are one way to evaluate potential hires, but other reviewers won’t necessarily have the same standards of quality as you do. It is always a good idea to ask freelancers for references to similar types of clients and to actually call or email these references.

Ask them questions such as:

  • Did the freelancer deliver what was promised?
  • Did the freelancer offer helpful suggestions on how to make the project better?
  • How well did the freelancer communicate with you?
  • Was the project delivered on time? If not, why?
  • Did the freelancer respond well to constructive feedback?
  • If the freelancer had any discretion in how to charge you, did the project come in on budget?

Not all of these factors will matter equally for every freelance project. For instance, if you are hiring an accountant who will be filing your tax returns, punctuality is very important. But if you are slowly building out extra pages on your company website, sticking closely to deadlines won’t matter as much. The key is to find someone who is capable of accomplishing what you need on a particular project.

Once you find someone who sounds like a good fit, try them out on a small project. Good freelancers will appreciate the opportunity to test the waters, because they will be trying you out, too, to make sure the relationship is a good fit. It’s an insurance policy for you, too. You don’t want to find out halfway through a high-stakes, $20,000 project that someone is unreliable.

To make sure you get the most out of your freelance project, make sure you know what materials and information the freelancer needs to start the project and reach key milestones. If someone on your team needs to approve certain parts of the project in order for the freelancer to move ahead, make sure that person is easily accessible.

Hold up your end of the bargain, too. Make sure to deliver deposits, progress payments and final payments on time. Most freelancers run one-person businesses and can’t realistically afford to finance your projects for you. If you’re slow in paying them, they will likely need to squeeze in other work and bump your project to the back burner—no matter how much they like you personally. Treat them the way you would any important member of your team, and you’ll find that the return on your investment is tremendous.