It’s never been easier for companies large and small to hire people on a freelance basis. The Internet connects businesses to freelance entrepreneurs like never before—freelance artists, designers, writers, consultants, and more. Finding freelancers is simple, and hiring them can be a great way to get work done and projects completed without having to hire a new full-time employee; in some cases, this middle ground is exactly what a company needs.

There is a difference between hiring a freelancer and intelligently hiring a freelancer, though—and it’s more than possible to get burned by a bad freelance experience. Below, I’ve got a few tips for avoiding that fate, based on my own experience enlisting freelancers for various tasks.

What to Know About Hiring Freelancers

Make a slow start. As with any relationship, it’s smart to ease into things. Tasking a brand new, untested freelancer with a 100-hour project and a $25,000 budget is a bad move. Instead, provide a couple of “getting to know each other” projects, then ramp things up from there. Learn your freelancer’s rhythms, pros and cons, and how much direction and feedback is going to be needed; allow your freelancer to learn how you work and what you like, too. You may get to that huge project, but don’t lead with it.

Be clear about what you expect. When hiring freelancers, expectations are everything. Be crystal clear and exactingly precise in how you define the scope of your project, the timeline, etc. Offer the kinds of measurable results you hope to see. Don’t allow “scope creep” to make your project drift off course.

Remember that you get what you pay for. I find that this saying holds true in many areas of life, including freelancer engagements. Don’t try to lowball potential freelancers; don’t insult them or undervalue the skills they have. If you’re willing to pony up a decent rate, you’re more likely to get decent work.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. I don’t mean that you need to be a pest—but do avoid thinking that those things you’ve left unsaid are somehow clear. Talk directly with your freelancer before any new project begins, and make sure you’re both on the same page. Talking things out can help you to avoid the need for revisions or do-overs later on.

Freelancers may not be permanent members of your team, but they can nevertheless be invaluable to your business—so when you engage them, do so smartly. Learn more by visiting the ACES page!