How to Find and Hire WordPress Developers – Definitive Guide 2023

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Introduction

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

It’s VERY difficult to find and hire a good WordPress developer

But is it?

Except you’re some super hiring genius from Harvard, you’ve probably come across a handful of mediocre freelancers who had great portfolios and appeared to be experts.

There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve hired the wrong person for a project, and in most cases, it will cost a huge chunk of your project budget.

But finding good WordPress developers doesn’t have to be rocket science.

In my seven years working with freelance WordPress developers, I have successfully crafted a failproof hiring process for WordPress developers which has helped me complete more than 150 projects.

Some for my clients and others for personal brands and services.

It’s not based on a budget or how many reviews a prospective developer possesses as those can be forged, rather it requires following a specific set of checks that almost everybody ignores during and before the interviewing process.

In this post, I’ll break down my hiring process and also provide you with actionable tips you can take to find and hire the best WordPress developers for your projects.

After this article, you should also be able to instantly identify mediocre WordPress developers after a few checks.

But, before then you need to know;

Why and When You Need to Hire a WordPress Developer

WordPress on its own is a powerful software and in most cases, already has functionality built-in for common types of websites.

For example, a plugin like Woocommerce allows non-technical WordPress users to create e-commerce stores with a couple of clicks.

It’s so well laid out, that anyone with basic WordPress knowledge can implement it.

Coupled with a huge library of free themes and plugins, there are virtually a thousand different websites you could build with WordPress.

But then, there are cases where you might need a completely custom experience.

Most plugins and themes available on the WordPress repository and marketplaces like Themeforest.net have been used by thousands of WordPress sites already.

When you have a brand or service that requires a custom and unique experience, inbuilt WordPress features can be very limiting and sometimes make it impossible to implement.

That’s where hiring a WordPress Developer comes in.

Who Is a WordPress Developer?

A WordPress developer specializes in using, modifying, and extending WordPress core infrastructure to build websites with unique functionality and overall experience.

This includes creating new themes and plugins for a service or integrating third-party APIs from other solutions.

In essence, a good reason why you would need a WordPress developer is when a custom website with unique functionality needs to be built with WordPress.

For landing pages and other common types of websites, you can pretty much hire an expert WordPress user who knows his way around WordPress without emphasis on coding experience.

Ren Ventura, a writer for EngageWP termed freelancers in this class as WordPress Implementers.

There are also WordPress experts that specialize in building out websites visually (Visual Web Developers) with plugins like Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Gutenberg.

They are not necessarily WordPress developers as knowing how to code isn’t required, but can create some awesome unique websites as well using existing no-code technology.

The problem is, that most WordPress Implementers and Visual Web Developers brand themselves as full-fledged WordPress developers on platforms like Upwork which doesn’t require a skill test.

To make matters worse, many inexperienced clients have no idea how to differentiate these job roles.

A WordPress implementer should generally cost way less than an actual WordPress developer would as they have little to no experience with coding custom WordPress functionality.

Learning how to differentiate between these two WordPress roles would help a ton in saving costs on projects but more on that later in the article.

Another major reason why you might need a WordPress developer is when you already have a custom WordPress solution in place and need someone to maintain, improve and extend its functionality.

Hiring a dedicated WordPress developer would ensure the stability of the system as WordPress is constantly changing every day.

Whatever reason you might have, always make sure it’s not something a WordPress Implementer can do perfectly with an existing theme or plugin.

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[Image – WordPress Developer == Custom Website Solution]

The Challenge of Hiring a WordPress Developer

As if it’s not already bad enough that expert WordPress users brand themselves as WordPress developers, there are also WordPress Developers who use poor coding practices that in long run can compromise the security and performance of your WordPress website.

It’s quite difficult knowing how good someone is at WordPress development when you know absolutely nothing about coding.

Many beginners take advantage of this and charge exorbitant amounts for projects they are not skilled enough to handle properly.

By following the hiring process I’ll share later in the article though, you should be able to solve these problems completely.

Should you use a WordPress agency or a freelancer?

WordPress agencies are more suited for complex WordPress projects that require a lot of ongoing maintenance, compared to freelancers who are suited for one-time projects with little to no maintenance involved.

Also, the project success rate of WordPress agencies is much higher than that of freelance developers, this is because agencies invest in pools of vetted talents and assign dedicated project managers to ensure your project deliverables are met.

Most freelance WordPress developers work for a lot of different clients and on several projects at a time so there’s no way they can offer the same attention to detail to a project as an agency would.

The downside of using a WordPress agency is the cost.

Just getting a custom design made can cost anywhere from $1000 to $10,000.

Custom development can range from $5,000 to $25,000+ depending on features and integrations.

Freelancers on the other hand cost less but might not be able to do large-scale projects nearly as efficiently.

What Does a Good WordPress Developer Cost?

According to statistics from Upwork, the average freelance WordPress Developer in the US charges an hourly rate of $75, with rates ranging between $18 to $300/hour.

For WordPress freelancers living in other countries, Upwork reports a median hourly rate between $15 – 28/hour.

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Personally, I’ve found that the complexity and timeline of a project drastically affect what a freelance WordPress developer charges.

In a real sense, there’s no set-in-stone cost, just reasonable price ranges you can expect to pay as it all boils down to your negotiation skills at the end of the day.

word image 19355 4[Custom infographic – All paragraphs summarized]

How Much Should I Pay for A WordPress Website?

[Custom infographic – All paragraphs summarized]

Simple WordPress websites that involve using existing themes and plugins cost anywhere from $100 – $1,000.

For a more complex/custom WordPress website, you could expect to pay anything from $1,000 to $15,000 depending on whether you go for an agency or use a freelancer.

The reason simple WordPress websites cost significantly less is the fact that resources (themes and plugins) in most cases are already available and are easy to set up, so you would really be paying a WordPress developer/implementer to configure, customize and fine-tune them to meet your website’s needs.

Custom websites on the other hand require an expert WordPress developer and a custom-made website/feature design.

Since the difficulty is significantly higher, it’s only natural it would cost more.

You can think of paying for simple WordPress websites as buying a car and customizing its properties (color, wheels, etc.).

For custom WordPress websites, it’s like manufacturing a new car from scratch which would cost way more.

How to Hire a Top Quality WordPress Developer (5-Step FailProof Hiring Process)

1. Create a Detailed Project Outline

Before even thinking of hiring a developer, you must first completely understand the project you’re trying to get built.

The clearer your project is to you, the easier it would be to find a suitable candidate for the job.

I’ve found that the more time I spent researching a project I had in mind, the better the whole hiring and building experience turned out.

You can do this by checking out related or similar projects online, a quick google search would reveal many relevant results which can help you greatly increase your knowledge of what’s needed.

During this research process, you can also come across existing solutions that can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle.

Once I have a firm understanding of a project, I create a detailed outline that any experienced WordPress developer would understand and be able to build.

The outline doesn’t have to follow any rules, just lists out all the features of the project and the problems it should solve.

Even experienced developers create outlines for their projects called Pseudocode which is essentially a step-by-step guide to aid development.

Jumping straight into writing a job description without an outline from my experience will always create problems that will stall or completely halt the progress of a project.

I make it a priority and you should too.

Optional [Free Google Docs Project Outline Template – You can Build Email List with this, Enter Email To Receive Requirement]

2. Create a Unique Project Description to Attract WordPress Developers with the right skill set.

Once you have a detailed research-backed outline, creating a project description should be a smooth process as you already have everything figured out.

The project description aims to expand upon the outline and add a personality to your project’s publicity.

It’s about expressing why you want the project built, what it should be able to do, and how soon you want it done in the clearest way possible.

If your project description is clear enough, you might not be able to get the right candidates to apply.

What I’ve seen some employers do is create really technical and hard-to-understand project briefs with the hopes of hiring someone experienced.

This does not work as anyone can learn the vocabulary needed to understand and fake their way into landing a project they can not deliver.

Another mistake is trying to use a generic copy-and-paste project description found online.

As long as your project description is generic, expect a lot of generic no-effort proposals.

The main essence of the Job description is to allow freelancers to understand what’s going on in your head, it’s personalized information about your project.

Taking time to get this right greatly increases the success rate of any project.

On a final note, Just be as clear as possible while writing your brief and say everything that you want to without restriction, it really helps.

Optional [Free Google Docs Project Description Template – You can Build Email List with this, Enter Email To Receive Requirement]

3. Carry out Interviews and verify reviews, ratings, and portfolio

After skimming through a WordPress developer’s proposal, the first thing you need to do is go through their portfolio website and testimonials.

And by a proposal, I don’t mean every proposal, just the ones that resonate with you.

Remember, it’s easy for freelancers to curate a couple of random web projects they didn’t work on and add to a portfolio so don’t get carried away easily.

Go further by checking the live versions of the projects where possible, it’s not uncommon for freelancers to present imaginary/demo projects as actual work.

Remember, you’re making these checks just to be sure they actually worked on the projects present in their portfolio.

Sometimes, web developers leave a brand watermark at the footer of their client’s website which is a good way for new clients to verify previous work.

Make sure you check the footer of the live versions to make sure another developer’s watermark isn’t present.

It’s better to not see any watermarks at all than to see one that belongs to another freelancer.

As a last resort, one effective method I use during the verification process is reaching out to a couple of the freelancer’s previous clients (often via Email).

You can grab their contact information from their portfolio website, the project’s live version, or directly from the freelancer.

I ask for a recommendation or review of some sort just to make sure I’m not making a bad decision.

Any previous client that had a good experience would be willing to provide you feedback in a day or two as you can hardly ever forget a good freelancer you’ve worked with.

Trust me, this is where you separate the professionals from the mediocre WordPress developers.

A freelancer is expected to have a good business relationship with past clients so this would prove a lot and reassure you that you aren’t making a bad decision going with them.

Final Note: You don’t have to do this for every single WordPress developer that applies for your project, just pick out a few based on how good their initial proposals are.

4. Decide on a seamless Project management tool & communication medium

During the interview process, you will most probably be using the freelance platform messaging feature for communication.

In most cases, a freelance platform’s communication system should suffice for interviews but when it’s time to start the actual project, there are a lot of constraints you might face.

After I decide on which freelance WordPress Developer to go with, I always transfer our communication to a third-party platform i.e SLACK.

Most freelance platforms place a lot of restrictions on their messaging features like word filtering, and media encryption/compression which might make passing information efficiently difficult.

Using a third-party communication medium like Slack, Telegram or even WhatsApp gives you a lot of flexibility especially when you don’t want to go against the terms & conditions of a freelance platform (Fiverr is a perfect example).

Fiverr, for example, have word filters in place, once you trigger any of them your conversations will be reviewed and you can get banned from the platform.

I also don’t like the idea of a company going through my conversations and restricting what I can and can’t say because I choose to use their platform to hire someone.

With a communication medium decided, I then proceed to break the project into tasks, sub-tasks, and deliverables in a project management tool like ClickUp.

This helps me simplify the entire building process and provides a clear and easy way to track the progress of the project.

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In fact, I have a whole dashboard filled with different ongoing and completed projects and a list of freelancers I’ve worked with added as team members.

Whenever I have a new project in mind, I always check my project management platform first in case any of my previous hires can handle it.

And even after a project is concluded, It helps me with a detailed record of everything that went into completing it.

This also means new hires will be able to easily access information about how a previous project was built, not something you can do with any freelance platform’s discussion system.

A neat feature most modern project management tools now have are inbuilt communication systems, I’m talking about dedicated chat apps with deep integration with tasks, video call functionality, and the ability to integrate with other third-party communication systems.

This means you can pretty much communicate and manage your projects all in one place which is a game-changer compared to how things used to be done in the past.

There are a lot of benefits I’ve found using a project management tool, and yes it does have a bit of a learning curve but most modern project management tools are designed with ease of use in mind.

My personal favorite is Clickup but there are other powerful alternatives like Asana, Monday, LiquidPlanner, and JIRA.

5. Monitor progress on agreed project deliverables

With everything else set up, all that’s left is monitoring the progress of the project.

This might seem like a straightforward task but it’s actually not.

What most employers do is give a deadline for the project completion and then leave the freelancer to do whatever he feels is right based on the brief and previous discussion.

This way of Monitoring a project from my experience often leads to problems during delivery especially when you had a very clear picture of what was needed and the freelancer did something close but not exact.

What I do is make sure to not only break down my projects into deliverables but also monitor the progress of each deliverable.

This way I can see what is being built and influence how it turns out.

Note though, if this isn’t done properly it can be considered micromanagement which every freelancer hates.

As an example, if I needed an eCommerce website built, I would break down all the features into tasks and related extra features as sub-tasks.

When the developer is trying to implement a feature like payments, I’d make sure to specify the payment methods and gateways that are needed and provide any information needed while he builds that out.

Once he’s done and moves to the next deliverable, I’d make sure to chip in my opinions and guide the process.

I try to do this as politely as possible because in most cases the freelancer will have more experience than I am since it’s their profession.

Whenever I voice an opinion, I ask them if they have any complaints or advice which they are always happy to give.

It’s not about getting them to do everything the exact way it is in your head (that can lead to micromanagement) but more about voicing out your needs and finding a mutually agreeable way to get it done.

Ever since I started using this process, I have never had a single bad experience working with freelancers and have made some good friends in the process.

And even if you run into problems in your project, this process will make it way easier to find a solution and increase the overall success rate.

Compared to doing things the old mediocre way, working with this system has been a godsend.

But then what happens when you have more than one qualified freelance WordPress developer applying for the same project?

Well, this is how I would go about it;

How Do You Choose One WordPress Freelancer Over Another?

When you have more than one freelancer applying for a project, it gets tough to decide on who to go with.

There are three factors I use when considering who to go with among several freelancers for a project;

  1. Relevance of Previous work to your project
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Skill Level

Relevance of Previous Work to your Project

The first factor I use in selecting good freelancers for a project is the experience they already possess from working on similar projects.

For example, if you need an online store built with WordPress, working with a freelancer with a portfolio of eCommerce sites would ensure that you’re going with someone well-experienced to do a good job.

The same applies to other types of projects, freelancers with specializations tend to already have a working process for completing those types of projects compared to others that do basically everything.

Communication Skills

The next crucial factor I consider when choosing a freelancer over another is based on communication skills.

Without good communication skills, it becomes terribly difficult to work with a freelancer to complete a project irrespective of their technical skills or portfolio.

A quick and efficient method I use in measuring communication skills is having live meetings via Zoom or Google Meet with a freelancer.

It’s one thing to communicate via Emails and chat and it’s another to meet in person.

I generally ask a few questions about the project and listen to their vocal response and how easily they can reply.

This check also helps me get to know the freelancer on a personal note so working with them becomes significantly easier.

After having a few of these meetings with different candidates, it’s easier to decide who to go with since I can compare them more naturally.

Technical Skill Level

if the project is delicate, you can make it a requirement in your application for applicants to do a test, and only those who pass will move to the next stage of the interview.

But you have to make sure your project has a high budget and is worth it else not many freelancers will apply or agree to take a test.

After taking the test and passing, you can then test their communication skills, verify their previous work and ask questions related to your specific project and see how they plan to solve it.

You just naturally decide on the person to go with, it’s a gut feeling and even if you go with any of the candidates, you’re sure they are skilled enough because of the skill test they took so there’s basically no way to fail.

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[Custom infographic – All paragraphs summarized]

6 Best Places to Find and Hire WordPress Developers

These are six of the best places where I find and hire good freelance WordPress developers for my projects.

There’s no order to the list as they all have their pros and cons, you can simply explore each of them until you find a platform that you find easiest to work with.

Wphire.io

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Though relatively new, WPHIRE.io is a dedicated platform for finding verified and approved freelance WordPress experts.

Unlike other listing platforms that offer freelancers for several tech stacks, WPHire.io only focuses on WordPress and has an expert-vetted onboarding process for verifying the skill level of every WordPress developer that applies to be a freelancer on the platform.

Though the platform is still new, I’ve found some of the best freelancers I’ve worked with there.

Visit WpHre.io

Codeable.io

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Codeable.io is another WordPress dedicated freelancer platform where you can find well-vetted WordPress developers for any kind of WordPress project you can imagine.

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Apart from being able to select a freelancer, they have an advanced matching system that automatically selects the best freelancer for your project based on the information provided.

Note, that their matching system is not 100% accurate but if you’re completely new to hiring and want a standard developer, it can definitely help out.

If you have a serious project though, I’d recommend going through each freelancer manually till you find one suited for your project based on the tips shared in this article.

Visit Codeable.io

Toptal

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Toptal

Toptal (which is short for Top Talent) is one of the best freelancer platforms available today, they might not be focused on just WordPress but one thing is for sure, all their freelancers are experts.

Getting into TopTal as a freelancer is no easy feat after all as they only admit the top 3 percent in every industry.

Their WordPress development tests are rumored to be difficult even for some experienced WordPress experts.

Freelance WordPress developers who do meet the minimum requirement after taking their signup tests are not allowed into the platform and are restricted from taking any more tests for 3 months.

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Since they only hire the best, developers on TopTal charge way more than you’d find in other freelance marketplaces.

I’d recommend using Toptal if you’re trying to build a dedicated team around experts for a Web project with a high budget.

For simpler project one-time projects, there are better alternatives to explore on this list.

Visit Toptal

Elementor Experts

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Elementor is the most popular and most used page builder in the WordPress ecosystem.

It also has a platform called Elementor Experts which is essentially a directory of expert WordPress developers and designers, the platform allows you to sort through WordPress developers with various skill sets and specializations with Elementor being a default.

You can find Developers who specialize in things like E-commerce, Funnel, Landing pages, and other popular website types. They all use Elementor as their framework for building WordPress sites.

Since Elementor is commonly used by most theme developers, it has become somewhat compulsory for developers to be able to build custom Elementor widgets and integrate existing plugins with the page builder.

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On Elementor Experts, you get properly vetted WordPress experts who specialize in using Elementor.

Whenever I have a WordPress project that requires the Elementor page builder, this is where I source talents from.

Do note though that not every freelancer listed is comfortable with PHP and coding in general.

Some freelancers on this platform are better at design while others specialize in creating custom Elementor widgets.

Visit Elementor Experts

Turing

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Turing.com just like Toptal is another premium freelance marketplace, their vetting process is just as difficult as that of Toptal if not more.

I’d consider turing.com a good alternative to Toptal because they work essentially the same way, turing.com on the other hand has been around much longer and thus should have more experienced and well-known talents.

What platforms like Turing Toptal do best is secure the best freelance developers to ensure whatever project you have in mind is created flawlessly.

They do come at a heavy cost though, it’s hard to negotiate on pricing lower than the industry standard so it’s more like hiring an actual staff for a period of time.

They also focus on several technology stacks which means their system is not streamlined for WordPress development but designed to accommodate other technologies.

Just like I stated earlier, I’d only use Turing or TopTal in situations where I need to build a team of experts to work hand in hand for a high-budget project.

For most normal WordPress projects, I’d rather source for developers elsewhere to save on cost.

Visit Turing

WPhired

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Wphired.com is more of a job board than a freelance platform, it allows anyone to post a WordPress-related job for free and offers free exposure to its massive list of freelance WordPress developers.

The site is quite popular in the WordPress community and has thousands of daily visitors so you’ll definitely get a ton of applicants.

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Since WPhired is not a managed freelancer platform though, it does require a fair amount of experience working with freelancers to utilize.

From picking a project management tool to agreeing on payment terms.

I don’t advise using job boards like WpHired to source freelance web developers for beginners though as a lot of mediocre and scammy people try to exploit employers.

Visit WPhired.com

What About Freelancer.com, Upwork, or Fiverr?

Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr are always the first platforms that come to mind when you mention the word Freelance Marketplace.

Not only do they have the largest database of freelance users, but they also handle everything from payment, and skill verification to project issues resolution.

When it comes to WordPress development though, I do not recommend these platforms except if you have previous experience working with expert WordPressHow to developers.

Most of the freelancers posing as experts on Upwork either have no programming skills or outsource their projects to other developers.

This is very common on Upwork, a lot of the developers I’ve worked with often time avoided or rejected projects that would require them to code something custom, and even when they did, simple changes could take weeks.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to find good talents on these platforms, it is.

Just be prepared for the WordPress Implementers that present themselves as experts though.

Conclusion

This article has delved deep into what goes into finding and hiring good WordPress Developers and provided all the important prerequisite knowledge required.

Not only should you now be equipped enough to hire WordPress developers, but you should also be able to work with them in a streamlined and controlled manner.

A list of platforms where you can find WordPress developers were also provided to further aid your scouting efforts (With my personal favorite being wphires.io).

I hope you’ve found this article a worthy read and it really helped you gain new insights on working with WordPress Developers.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out via the comment section or using the contact form.

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