Whether you’re looking for a freelance web designer or a contract copywriter, there are online resources that provide stronger candidates than others. Read on to understand what to look for in your search.

For small businesses, independent contractors offer a cost-effective solution to short-term projects, as opposed to hiring a company employee. Your company may choose to outsource some of the following work assignments:

  • Web design
  • Copywriting
  • Graphic design
  • Blog writing
  • SEO assistance
  • Programming
  • Consulting

Without a referral, it may be hard to find the right independent contractor for the job. Fortunately, there are some reliable online resources that can help your search along.


Elance is a portal that connects employers and freelancers. There are two ways to find skilled contractors: you can search for talent by browsing profiles that fit the skillset you’re looking for, or you can post a job and let freelancers bid on it specifically.

Freelancers, as well as agencies that have profiles on Elance, are ranked by the people who have hired them in the past. Looking at a profile will tell you how many projects the independent contractor has on through Elance, in addition to providing reviews from employers. They may choose to upload examples of their work, which can help you determine if they have the appropriate experience.


Guru provides similar services to Elance. If you choose to post a gig, you can list your budget for the project, the skills that you are looking for, and the details regarding the project. You can invite specific people to bid on the project, or open the project to anyone qualified. When the bidding period closes, simply review the proposals and choose the best one for your gig.

When you use the aforementioned online platforms, you have the option of paying your contractor through Escrow. Once the project begins, you are asked to put the amount you agreed upon into Escrow, and once you’ve approved the final work, it will be released to the contractor. This keeps your money safe, and prevents anyone from taking your money and never completing the project.


While not as reliable as Guru or Elance, Craigslist is a free web site to list projects requiring independent contractors. List your project under the appropriate subcategory (Jobs or Gigs), and make the title descriptive to attract more responses. You can use a masked email provided by Craigslist to receive replies so that people don’t have your real email address.

Reminder: always sign an agreement with an independent contractor found over Craigslist. Never rely on a verbal agreement, as it won’t stand up in court.

What to Look For

Necessary qualities of an effective independent contractor:

  • History of quality work product
  • Completion of work on time
  • Responsive to emails or calls
  • Looks to involve your input in the process
  • A detailed rate/billing policy

Remember to ask for referrals so you can understand more about the independent contractor’s background and previous work experiences. Also, remember to discuss the project cost and timeframe ahead of time, including a discussion about contingency plans and additional fees.