Pros and Cons of Hiring Freelance App Developers

by | Mar 5, 2018

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So, you have your concept for an app, maybe even a low-fi prototype, and all you need now is the technical expertise to execute. You’re not sure you can afford an agency, you’re wary of the commitment of bringing on a full-time hire, so you’re opting to hire freelance app developers. It’s a great deal, right? Save money, and there are no strings attached…

Well, we’ve learned that working with freelance talent can be a great deal, or it can be a bit of a nightmare. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer to build your app.


Freelance App Developers

Freelance app developers are independent operators who you might find through your network or through websites such as, TopTal or AngelList. Freelancers, independent contractors and consultants now make up almost 15% of all workers in the United States. Working with  freelance app developers can be appealing due to price point, but quality and reliability are often a concern.


Freelance Development Work

When you’re working with a freelancer, it’s really difficult to know exactly who you’re working with, and if you don’t know code, it can be impossible to manage the quality of the code and final product. You could end up getting charged for hours spent working that don’t actually add up to a high quality product. If the quality of your code isn’t good, then you’re just going to spend more money on fixes, and you may end up with a product that doesn’t offer a great user experience to your end users.


What’s the Worst Case Scenario?

The worst case scenario is that you spend a significant amount of money for a freelancer’s time, and end up with a product that doesn’t work, and then you get “ghosted” — your remote freelancer is suddenly nowhere to be found. You end up with a product that is essentially unusable, and you’re out tens of thousands of dollars. All in all, you’re much worse off now than when you started.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard this story WAY too often. In some cases, the risk of this happening is greater with offshore app developers, since it can be difficult to confirm identities and hold accountability. If you’re  looking to hire freelance app developers, make sure to consider potential challenges and risks.

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Let’s Look at the Best Case Scenario, too

On the flip side, you may hire a freelance app developer who is a rockstar and is highly responsive and offers fast turnaround times for your features and product enhancements. Your ideal scenario would be to find someone who would be a great long-term fit for a specific project or platform (it could be a little unrealistic to find a freelancer who can code in multiple languages).

Remember that even after your app goes live, you’ll need to make some adjustments, and more often than not, there are always little bug fixes that’ll need to happen. Beware of budgeting a hard “fixed cost” to a freelance software development project, even though freelancer platforms like UpWork might encourage you to do so. More often than not, you’ll need some ongoing support if you’re planning to have an impactful app with active users.


So, let’s get to the pros and cons of freelance developers


  • More affordable than working with a software development agency
  • Oftentimes, they are more flexible
  • Great for specific tasks or projects (like an app built for one platform, likely not all three)
  • Lower financial commitment than hiring a full time developer


  • If you don’t code, you have no idea if their code is good…or if future developers will be able to read it
  • If something happens to your freelancer, you’ve just put your business at high risk
  • They likely don’t have the benefit of collaborating with others to build stronger product
  • They can be slow or simply on their own schedule
  • There may be communication issues



Consider all of the software development services available

While hiring freelance app developers is a really popular way to go, and can be great, make sure you’ve considered all of your options. Not totally sure what your options are? We’ve got your back! Check out our ebook on How to Choose the Right Software Development Solution for your Business, and you’ll have the full scoop on the pros and cons of the variety of app development solutions that you can choose from.



Questions to ask a freelancer in the hiring process:

If you’re pretty sold on hiring freelance app developers, that’s great! The next step is to find him or her. There are a bevy of freelancer network websites where you can post jobs, connect with freelancers and evaluate their work. In the interview process, make sure to do your homework, and leave no stone unturned. Here are some questions we recommend asking:

  • Do you ever bring in other developers to read/review your code?
  • What is your experience level with ___ language/technology?
  • Can I see something you built? (And perhaps show it to a tech-savvy friend…and buy them a beer or two)
  • What does your timeline look like? When should I expect updates?
    What will our communication look like? (Email, weekly calls, video conferences, in-person meetings, slack, etc)
  • Do you have a full-time job? Are there any hours that you are unavailable?
  • What upkeep or maintenance fee should I expect?


If you’re still not sure whether hiring a freelancer is for you, maybe you should consider a no-code app builder. To make it easy, we’ve written about the pros and cons of that route, too!

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