Software developers 26 min read 12.07.2020

Hire a Top Freelance Developer (In 2021)

This hiring guide offers a set of insightful tips to help you hire a top freelance developer in 2021. Hire a Freelance developer now!

Currently available freelance developers
(hand-picked by the Hiremotely team)

Why Should You Hire a Freelance Developer?

Whether you want to build a mobile app, website, or develop custom software for your enterprise, finding and hiring the top freelance developer is an essential part of taking your ideas and bringing them into reality. Freelance developers are often in high demand and it can be difficult to know where to get started when looking to hire a freelance developer. Building off of our experience and knowledge of working with hundreds of freelance developers, this guide will give you the tools you need to find the best freelance developer for your project!

Employers who have a choice between full-time and freelance developers/programmers often face the same dilemma - which one is better? In the world of software development, freelance developers win by a mile. Firstly, the cost of hiring a freelance developer is minimal. With full-time employees, they can reach up to $20,000 (when considering an average personal agency's success fee 2 monthly salaries and $10,000/month for a medium-level software developer).

  • With freelance talent, access to highly skilled freelance developers/programmers isn’t limited to the location of your office. With a talent pool of thousands of great coders, you can hire developers for your startup or business from anywhere in the world and stick to your list of requirements.

  • Freelance programmers are also more affordable. When freelancers work for you, you don’t have to think about insurance, benefits, and accounting - you simply pay for the work done on your specific job.

  • Software development is a tricky industry because very few developers are highly experienced with everything you may need when building software and using specific programming technology. With freelance programmers, you have greater flexibility when it comes to organizing your projects. You can easily hire developers for specific tasks and project milestones, without spending money or time on training your full-time employees. 

Some of the cons of freelancers include a lack of supervision and communication. When you hire freelance development teams, keeping everyone up to date and focused is not an easy feat. Finally, full-time employees are more dedicated to the company compared to freelancers. However, these cons are not insurmountable. We will show you how to overcome them!

If you want to learn more about the differences between Freelance and Full-time Developers, follow the link to learn more!

While hiring a freelance software developer may sound like a walk in the park, a couple of bad experiences or doubts can quickly put you off of this idea and make it seem difficult. Well, we have good news for you. None of these things mean you should give up on your search for the best developer that you can find. Hiring freelance software developers can be both easy and beneficial for your business if you know how and where to look for them. Here we will share the basics and the best secrets that we have found for finding the perfect developer for the needs of you or your company:

Before you embark on your search for a perfect software developer, there is one thing you have to understand - the basic technical components of software development. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to become a full-stack developer yourself! However, you have to understand how development works to be able to set realistic expectations when it comes to the developer’s expertise, experience, rates, as well as the project’s pace, deadlines, and final cost. When the management team in a company has a basic understanding of what software engineers do, then it can make for a great product and clients who are happy with their experience on the platform.

Define Requirements

Define the requirements that are non-negotiable and determine which ones you’re willing to bring into your group. If you don’t know much about software development, consult someone who has knowledge of the technical areas of design and compile a list of requirements for your job. When you are hiring a software developer, we suggest that you follow these steps

Step 1 - Be specific about what you need and want in your job listing. Clearly writing what your goals and requirements are at the start can help facilitate good communication and have clear expectations. For instance, writing whether you are looking for a web developer who knows PHP or API development can be very different than engineers who specialize in app development. Writing what you want in your job listing can impact the people who will apply for the jobs that you have posted. Having a strong job description will help to find the best developer for your business.

For example, a good job posting states the following: “Looking for Web App Developer, technical requirements: ASP.NET MVC; ASP.NET CORE, SharePoint Development/Administration, Web Services: SOAP/JSON/REST, HTML5 and C#, "Modern" Javascript and CSS, Microsoft SQL Server, Visual Studio, Frameworks such as jQuery, Knockout, Bootstrap, Angular, Aurelia, or Durandal, TFS, GitHub”

Step 2 - State whether you expect your freelance software developer to work on your project as a full-time job or a part-time job. Being able to communicate what you want and how much work that you expect from the beginning will help to facilitate a better relationship from the start. It can also help to share the policy and services that your company can offer so that the software engineers have a better idea of your company

Step 3 - State your development budget and your desired timeline. Writing your expectations early on will help to avoid miscommunications later in the development process. Communication is one of the essential tools in finding a strong developer who can work on your site or mobile app.

Step 4 - State any degrees, certifications, and skills required or preferred. Knowing the applicant's technical and education history can help to ensure that they are strong enough and qualified enough with code to join your group.

Step 5 -  State what software or format your project will be using. Knowing the technology and code requirements that are expected for the project can help to find a developer that is agile with your preferred software. For instance, if you need someone who is experienced with javascript, then including javascript as a requirement will help you to find someone who is skilled with that code language for your project.

Step 6 - Read any ratings or reviews about the applicant from former employers, supervisors, or even colleagues (if you’re looking for a team player). This can be especially useful in learning more about their past experience, feedback from past clients, and their ability to work together in a group

Step 7 - Look at the applicant’s portfolio. If you have any suspicion that the applicant is presenting plagiarized samples, follow up with the employer who commissioned the project or product. Speaking with the management team on past projects can help to check if the applicant’s past work is real and to have examples of the code that they have done in the past

Step 8 - Present a test project. This is a simple project that will help you in learning if the applicant has the required credentials. It will also show you whether their way of thinking is compatible with your creative vision.

Step 9 - Once the applicant passes the test, present a project plan, agree on rates, availability, the scope of the project, milestones, and deadlines, and you can begin.

When screening potential developers for any project, be realistic. Don’t expect someone with 10 years of experience to work for peanuts, and don’t expect young people with affordable rates to know every programming language that exists.

Stay Organized

 ➜ Communicate regularly, but avoid micromanaging. For example, let’s imagine your freelance software engineer is supposed to send you status updates every Wednesday. They adhere to this schedule, but you start getting a little impatient. You begin messaging them for updates every day of the week. If you’re doing this, stop. When you do that, you waste their time, and your money - because instead of working, developers are talking about working. If you believe you hired the right software engineer for your project, put some trust in them or create a better work schedule that can work for both you and the freelance developer.

 ➜ Don’t expect your freelance software engineer to be a mind reader. Give them clear guidelines, encourage them to ask questions, and be ready to listen to their advice. This is a skill that comes from knowledge of the process of development and management skills for good communication within a project group. Learning how to communicate jobs and create a good working group will help immensely throughout the development process!

 ➜  Be realistic with deadlines. Sometimes, projects evolve and change mid-way. If that’s the case with your project, give your freelance software engineer enough time to incorporate the changes and alter their engineering plan or design. Don’t expect them to re-haul the entire software in one night if they were building it for two months. If you want software developers to be flexible, agile, and understanding, you have to show the same attitude.  

 ➜ Referrals go a long way in the freelancing world, so once your hired freelancer has completed the project, make an effort to write down your feedback for them. This will help offer them resources for marketing their engineering skills in the future and view their work with you even more favorably.

Salary Trends for Freelance Developers

Another important aspect of hiring freelance developers is knowing the average prices and salaries for the services that they provide. The hourly rate of a full-time developer or part-time developer depends on experience, skills, and location. Here are some examples of common salaries for freelance developers around the world:


Junior Mid-level Senior
$61-80/hour $81-100/hour $100-200+/hour

Australia & New Zealand

Junior Mid-level Senior
$50-80/hour $70-100/hour $90-150+/hour

Eastern Europe

Junior Mid-level Senior
$30-50/hour $40-70/hour


The data above is an estimate for hourly rates. However, the actual hourly rate can vary depending on the platform you are using, the engineering abilities of the developer, and the end product that you need to be developed.

How to Find a Top Freelance Developer

Finding the perfect developer can be challenging when you don’t know which platform is the best to hire a developer. The internet is filled with data about hiring freelance developers which can make the process confusing and difficult to find the best advice for your company. That’s why we’ve put together this simple list of strategies that you can use to find the right developer for your business or project. 

Sounds simple? Well, not so fast. How quickly you get to this final point depends largely on the way you look for freelance software developers and the database that you are using. So let’s see how and where you can find freelance developers.

Traditional Hiring of Freelance Developers

If you decided to hire a developer on your own, there are several ways you can go about it. 

If you have connections in the IT industry, the easiest way is to ask for recommendations or post a classical job offer in ad listings. You can assess the candidates in short interviews, face to face or via messages/phone calls. This is a traditional way to hire new software engineers. The only difference is that you don’t hire them full time, but for them to work on a specific product, project, or site. The two of you can agree to sign a contract according to the laws and policy of your state, and the freelancer can begin working. 

What are the pros of traditional hiring practices? If the new freelance worker is recommended by someone you trust or comes from professional circles that are familiar to you, you have a certain level of assurance that they will do a good job. Knowing that other companies have worked with them or that their clients have had a good experience with their engineering work can be helpful to know that you are hiring a qualified freelance developer. This way of hiring software developers also allows you to vet the candidate and communicate regularly with them. 

However, if the freelancer abandons your project mid-way or yields unsatisfactory results, there is little you or your management team can do about it. Unlike online freelancing platforms, this way of hiring doesn’t offer much protection - for you or the worker.

Hiring Freelance Developers on Social Media

Another way to hire developers is to utilize the database of social networks. Being a professional social network, LinkedIn is one of the companies that is often the first choice when it comes to finding talent. LinkedIn is a hub for professionals with a variety of backgrounds and qualifications and provides a large amount of data to choose from. A perk of sites like these is that you have the means to filter applicants according to your desired specifications. 

Specifications may include qualifications, skills, education, experience, recommendations, and even rates. Hourly rates of software developers depend on all of these factors. You can search for the right candidates who are open to new job opportunities. Another special feature on LinkedIn, allowing employers to check to see which professionals are available for full-time jobs or gigs. Another way is to simply post a job offer, either as a regular or boosted post, and wait for the applications.

You can do a similar thing on a site like Facebook. There are plenty of Facebook groups that connect employers and freelancers, but you should look for the ones with a large number of members and serious administrator teams. These groups usually have strict rules for employers and freelancers in terms of minimum hourly rates, types of offers, and communication. While these groups don’t offer advanced search features compared to a database like LinkedIn, they can be a good source for clients looking to hire top talent. Furthermore, these platforms can be great places for companies to network and expand their marketing which can help to attract new clients to their site. 

Just like traditional hiring, looking for applicants on Facebook, and LinkedIn has its limitations. You cannot always vet the candidates properly, and there isn’t much protection for either of you if you encounter problems. Furthermore, it is difficult to check whether the applicants are real or actually have the engineering skills that they say that they have. 

So, what’s the remaining option?

Hiring Developers on Freelancing Platforms

When you enlist the help of professional freelance marketplaces, you are putting the legwork of hiring a freelancer into the hands of hiring platforms.

Initially, freelance platforms were built with the idea of simply connecting workers and employers. They flourished as they turned into systems where the entire workflow could take place, incorporating payment options, communication channels, workflow organization, and mediation. Finally, all of these platforms matured when their model shifted to minimizing risk and creating a seamless working experience both for employers and freelancers. 

The freelancing platform you choose to work with will have a profound effect on your business. Different platforms attract freelancers with various skillsets, hourly rates, and expectations. Over time, some of these marketplaces became notorious for cheap, low-quality work, which is something you want to avoid in software development. However, as freelance platforms have gotten better, their ability to offer clients more services and resources has made them great places for finding qualified and agile software developers

  • Pros of Freelance Platforms

With the help of the right freelance platform, you can easily gain access to top talent with a specific skill set you need for your short-term and long-term projects. These platforms are designed with your needs in mind, allowing you to search for software developers based on their expertise and experience. You can also specialize your search to find software engineers that code with specific programs like Javascript, React, Angular, and more. 

Another pro for hiring a software or web developer through a freelance marketplace is the fact that the majority of marketplaces nowadays benefit from maintaining high standards. Freelancers are now obliged to verify their identity and build profiles with extensive biographies and portfolios. The quality of their profile now directly affects how high they are going to rank in the search results. Moreover, most freelance platforms track the quality of freelancers’ work. For example, Upwork promotes freelancers with regular work and high ratings to “rising talent” and “top-rated” categories. You can also see reviews from previous clients, so the screening process for future employers is pretty straightforward and offers a high level of assurance. 

Both employers and freelancers have a chance to clearly state their budget and rates. Serious platforms have a system that allows you to test applicants on their skills and also fully organize your workflow, communicate with freelancers, monitor them using time trackers, and pay them. 

Reputable platforms also provide payment protection both for you and the freelancers, allowing you to settle disputes if they arise. This makes the process of working with a freelance developer's simple and clean cut.

  • Cons of Freelance Platforms 

A couple of downsides of a freelance marketplace are limited search options and generalized fields of expertise. This is usually a problem with large freelancing platforms that aren’t geared towards specific industries.

Think about it this way: when you search for "android software developers" on Upwork, your results will include iOS software developers that don’t have any expertise in android software development. This can be especially difficult when you need developers who can design a site or app using specific programs like Python, API, PHP, Java, etc. 

Therefore, you must sift through the results to find the candidate with the qualifications that meet your needs. Some marketplaces that are focused on specific industries have advanced search options. These platforms, on the other hand, often have weaker support systems compared to giants like Upwork. 

In the end, even well-developed, reputable systems cannot be entirely risk-free. Savvy cheaters can use fake credentials, work well, and then disappear in the middle of the project which can be harmful to the success of client satisfaction on your site, and even the privacy of your company data if they turn out to be a fake developer. Sometimes disputes may not end up the way you wanted, and it is important to focus on hiring the right developer so you don’t end up with a disappointing product or waste your time. 

Now, software development jobs are serious endeavors that require a lot of time, skill, dedication, and responsibility. Most businesses and companies that need these services don’t have endless budgets, so it’s important for them to get things right the first time. When failure and risk are not an option, what do you do? You make sure your investment is worth it and spend time learning more about what you need and who would make the best developer for your projects.

Why Hire Freelance Developers on Specialized Platforms

Specialized freelance platforms were built with a primary motive to solve some of the common problems that arose in the large freelance marketplaces and provide better data about the software engineers that offer their services through digital platforms.

On one hand, employers got tired of endless lists of low-skilled software engineers with promising pitches and disappointing results. On the other hand, high-skilled software developers got tired of the race to the bottom, refusing to settle for low hourly rates. Specialized freelance platforms sought to rebuild a bridge between these two groups by giving them what they need - a seamless experience.

On specialized platforms like Hiremotely, hiring developers starts with a simple application form. The employer specifies the project size, lists the required skills, and leaves their contact info. Within two days, the platform’s team assembles a small list of 2-4 developers who are the perfect fit. Sure, 2-4 applicants don’t sound like a bottomless talent pool, but that is the power of specialized networks. They provide you with hand-picked candidates filtered from a much larger, carefully vetted pool of professionals. 

If you want to learn more about the differences between platforms like Toptal, Upwork, and Hiremotely check out this comprehensive guide!

These platforms carry the brunt of responsibility for matching you with highly skilled software developers and minimizing the risks. How? For starters, developers go through several rounds of testing to make sure they are top of the top. These tests take several weeks and include technology, coding, logical, and mathematical tests. They examine not only the developer’s knowledge but also the ability to find solutions to unexpected problems and deal with challenges in a new environment. 

Moreover, these freelancers are also evaluated on the basis of work ethic, as administrators follow their availability and communication skills. Software developers on specialized freelance platforms are evaluated on a regular basis, so they have to maintain top results.

Once you pick the software developers, you get to test their skills free of charge. And if these developers still aren’t quite what you’re looking for? You can simply move on to the next candidate, or ask for other applicants. 

Specialized freelance platforms have a smaller number of developers available and don’t offer cheap work. However, they are an absolute guarantee of top quality and solid investment. After all, keep in mind that a cheap mobile app that constantly requires big fixes usually ends up much more expensive than a well-built mobile app created by a great developer.

    Hire Freelance Developers on Hiremotely

    Hiring a top developer doesn’t have to be a scary, nerve-racking task. With the information, you just read you can feel relaxed and well prepared to take on the freelancing world.

    We suggest you give it a shot. Fill out a simple form, wait for 48 hours, and we’ll provide you with a single freelance software developer or an entire team of software developers that is a perfect match for your project and mission. You have nothing to lose and everything to win

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