Article | 20 Feb 2020

How to manage a freelance pitch process

Posted in Business, Top tips, Tools & Advice, Client, Projects,

With more than 2 million freelancers operating across the UK, organisations are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking the right person for their project. Talent platforms like The Work Crowd are a fantastic resource, but, as the client, you still need to invest time in identifying the best person for the job, who has the skills and experience you’re looking for, not to mention the personality and attitude to fit with your in-house team. And that means going through a pitch process.

But before you panic about all the work involved, choosing a freelancer doesn’t have to mean a long, drawn out, formal process, like you might face when picking an agency. Freelancing is meant to be flexible and no doubt you’re short on time to spend managing a detailed pitch exercise – as are most freelancers. The key is to approach the process in a focused way, so as to increase your chances of making a success of your project – and finding a freelancer you can use again and again in the future.

Here are the key steps you should go through, and what to think about at each stage:

Get the brief right

The more specific and detailed your brief, the more focused and relevant your responses will be, saving you valuable time sifting through CVs and messages to find the best ones. The more detail you can include the better, both about your organisation, what you need, and the information you would like to receive from respondents. As a rough guideline, your brief should cover off the following:

  • Your objectives: What are you hoping to achieve through the project?
  • Timescale: How long will the project be for?
  • Workload: Full time or part-time, how many days per week?
  • What kind of experience and expertise you’re looking for, including any qualifications or technical expertise required?
  • Key responsibilities of your freelancer: What activities are you looking for your freelancer to carry out and what deliverables will they be responsible for?
  • Your budget: If you already have an idea of what you’re prepared to pay, then include this detail. However, if you’re still unsure, or don’t want to rule anybody out, then you can leave this as negotiable for now.
  • Any specific questions/requirements: If you have any details you would like freelancers to provide when they respond, or you would like to see some examples of their work, then make sure you outline this too.

For more detail, check out our dedicated blog on how to brief a freelancer for success.

Create a shortlist

The other advantage of having a detailed brief is that it makes the next stage of the process much more straightforward, as it gives you a reference point against which to judge the responses you receive. For instance, it can be useful to have a scoring system based on the different aspects of the brief, enabling you to make an objective decision about which professionals fit your needs the best. Once complete, you should be able to shortlist the three to five best options, who you can confidently take through to the next stage. And remember, always try to reply to all the freelancers who applied, even those you haven’t shortlisted – it only takes a matter of minutes, reflects positively on you and your brand, and you never know when your paths might cross again in the future.

Telephone interviews

It might be tempting to jump straight to face-to-face meetings or request pitches from your shortlist, however, you should seriously consider carrying out short telephone interviews first, to give you an initial idea of fit and chemistry. Always keep in mind that a freelancer’s time is money, in a very real sense, and they will appreciate you being respectful of this, by asking for a 15 to 30-minute phone call, or video conference, first. It is also worth noting that for smaller projects, a face-to-face meeting or pitch probably isn’t necessary, or worth the time for you or the freelancer. In those cases, a virtual interview is likely to be all you need.

The interview is an opportunity to:

  • Find out more about a freelancer’s relevant experience and expertise
  • Find out if they think the objectives, timescale and budgets are realistic
  • Get a feel for their interest and passion in the project and your business – do they ask the right questions and show where they can add value?
  • See if they will ‘fit’ with you and your team? This is particularly important with marketing and comms professionals, as they will require regular input and collaboration with the business. It is a two-way relationship, so finding someone you feel inspired to work with is important.

After this stage, you may find that certain freelancers aren’t right for the project, which enables you to narrow your shortlist down further before moving on to the next stage.

Invite your favourites into pitch

If you are working with a decent size budget or looking for a long-term relationship, then a face-to-face stage is absolutely the way to go. In this situation, choose two, or maximum three freelancers, who you like best, and who you would like to meet in person. Or perhaps you already have a firm favourite amongst your shortlist, in which case a face-to-face meeting with just them will be as much a formality as anything. But either way, it is important not to skip this stage, as it enables you to dig deeper into how the freelancer would approach the project and iron out any uncertainties you both might have, and also give other members of your team a chance to meet them.

Be conscious not to demand too much of a freelancer’s time at this stage, while also ensuring that you have enough information to make a final decision. A good idea is to ask them to come in with a short proposal, presentation or plan, including some ideas and thoughts of how they would achieve your objectives, so you can get an idea of how they work, and whether they have fully grasped what you’re looking for. However, don’t demand or expect agency levels of polish and detail from these pitches, which is usually not realistic for a busy freelancer and should form part of the paid-for ‘discovery phase’ at the outset of the project.

Again, you may wish to put a scoring system in place, to enable you to evaluate your final shortlist of freelancers objectively. Or you may prefer to follow your gut, in terms of the individual who has best understood what you’re looking for, and who you have clicked with on a personal level. Either way, try to make a final decision as promptly as possible so as not to leave freelancers hanging, and so you can get your project kicked off asap.

Of course, if you do have any further questions or need more support, then The Work Crowd team can help guide you on what to include in your brief to ensure you find the most suitable freelancer for your needs. To find out more, or post a project, then drop us a line at or give us a call on 020 3828 8440, and we can chat through how it works.