Looking to contract a freelancer? Here’s a few things to keep in mind.

1. Cost. As a general rule, experience and quality cost more, but money shouldn’t be a measure of ability. For example, a lot of very talented and young freelancers charge pennies simply because they want to add to their portfolio and start building relationships.

2. Portfolio. Always ask to see sample work. Any hesitation is a bad sign. Creatives in this industry take any chance they can get to step in the limelight. Check to see if the portfolio has a wow factor. The portfolio should mesmerize a minimum of once every three pieces. If it doesn’t, move on. It’s your company. You should love how it’s presented.

3. Results. I had a guest speaker in college flash his plastic smile, display his Rolex and freely discuss the number of zeros in his salary. When it was time to gloat about his portfolio reel, I noticed not one of the commercials was made in the last decade and only one of his clients was still in business. I could’ve told you from the Rolex he was outdated, but the point is, freelancers and agencies are a service selling ingenuity. Your success is our business.

4. Accolades. Aside from tedious evaluations, industry awards are the only way to gauge success for many creatives. If the wall of awards doesn’t have anything from the year before, raise an eyebrow. Two years? Raise a flag. Three years or more? Rise from your chair and leave. Pay money for fresh ideas.

5. Demeanor. I called to get a quote from a freelance photographer about two weeks back. The shoot was in a smaller town about 45 minutes away. His bid came in about $500 more than the best photographer in our city. He justified the cost saying he went to school for his craft and has bills to pay. Likewise, another photographer we worked with this week (honestly, just bad luck), set his camera settings so low we couldn’t make a billboard, let alone an 8.5