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How Far You Can Go With Your Freelancers: Things You Should (NOT) Trust

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One of the best decisions you can make when you need work done online, whether that is in graphic design or content writing/blogging, is hiring a freelancer to handle it for you. Affordable, reliable and looking to maintain client connections, they are more likely to give you what you are looking for at a price you can handle than many larger businesses or groups that you might look into. Just a quote from a freelancer versus a company will be enough to tempt you.

For the most part, those who offer themselves as freelancers are trustworthy people who have made a living in an innovative and adaptive way. Some have even managed to create a decent business without the usual schooling that was once a major factor in such professions. Not that you would know it by the work, which is usually professional grade.

However, that doesn’t mean every one out there is high quality or even honest. There have been hundreds of people taken in by scammers, either who never provided the work or gave shoddy (even plagiarized) content at the end. It is these horror stories that have turned many people off to the idea of using freelancers who have not yet managed to become mainstream providers.

Is It Safe?

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This tends to be the question that buyers ask when looking into a freelancer. Always worried about being scammed, and often unsure of what to expect or what the standard might be, they hold off on hiring a self-employed provider. This is a real mistake, because with a little searching you will inevitably find someone you want to work with for a long time to come.

What you need is to know what isn’t normal and should not be trusted. These are some red flags and ways to protect yourself, to make sure you get the freelancer you need without the bad experience.

1. They Have No Work Under Their Name

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I will tell you right now, any freelancer who has been working for more than a few months will have a byline in an article or a copyright in their web design. Even if all of their paid work has been done on their own time for their own projects, there will be something online that they will be able to show you to prove their skill, which has been published under their own name or website/business title.

2. They Are Evasive About Experience

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Sometimes, a freelancer is unable to show work that has been purchased from them as full rights to the buyer, but they should still know who the client was. If they are evasive about references and experience, it might be a red flag. They should be able to give a short list of at least a few people they have worked with, and provide some kind of contact details such as an email address.

3. They Are Bad Communicators

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Part of being a freelancer is knowing how to network and communicate with clients. They should keep you up to date on their progress, as least an email or two a week. If you find you always have to chase them down, especially in the beginning, they are not someone you will want to keep around. But remember that this is a point that works both ways, and a freelancer may drop a client at the end of a project if they do not regularly answer their emails.

4. The Price Is Wrong

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This means either too high or too low. There are many freelancers out there who offer their services for pennies on the dollar. Buyers have made the huge mistake of thinking that this qualifies as some kind of normal rate for the industry and so expect good freelancers to work for it. This is very much not the case. Those who offer discount rates that are so low do so because the quality is low. Many buyers have hired someone for being cheap online to wind up with an unusable for stolen product. This is why you should investigate the industry standard and find those who keep their price within that range.

5. They Have No Ideas

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This sometimes depends on what you are asking for. A writer working on content you have specifically mapped out might not see the need to come up with suggestions for most projects. But a graphic designer should have plenty of ideas to work into your requested design. If they seem too pushy, however, you might want to keep an eye on them. They probably aren’t scamming you, but designers can get possessive of their work at times.

Conclusion

In the end, you are probably going to be fine with whomever you hire. But keeping the above in mind, checking up on their past work and being professional and courteous will go a long way to protecting yourself and finding a long term freelancer you can rely on.

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Comments on this Article: 4

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  1. davids says:

    Hi Tom, I’ve had several bad experiences with freelancers. I’ve also had several good ones. But overall the negative experiences seem to outnumber the positive.

    I think you have to be very careful when hiring someone. The tips you provided should help, but you can never be sure what you are getting 100%. That’s been my experience anyway.

    • Tom Chu says:

      Exactly. Working with freelancers is often required, but you need a good strategy to do that!

  2. Dino says:

    I think it’s safest to hire freelancers via referral, and if that’s not an option, definitely check their references/experience. Good quality freelancers will be happy to show you their work and put you in touch with some references.

  3. Laurence says:

    Great post Tom, these tips are very helpful especially to those people who are going to hire freelancers for the first time. I agree with tip #3 and bad communicators are not someone you want to keep around, which I believe communication is essential when working with a freelancer. I recently hire a freelancer from Staff.com and what that I do before I hire him is to conduct an interview and give him a short test that allows me to determine is he is capable to do the job. Giving a short test or an interview is the best thing to do before hiring a freelancer even you acquire them from a legit site.

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