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We all want to hire freelancers who turn in great work. But every once in a while, there comes a time when the work you get isn’t exactly what you expected. I’ve worked with a few freelancers and creative agencies over the last few months for a book I’m publishing.

Most of the time, I’m pleased with the work. Other times, I’ve found it difficult to get exactly what I need. It’s a challenging situation on both ends when there’s a disconnect between what you need and what the freelancer delivers.

The freelancer puts effort into the work so it’s understandable that they want to get paid for it. On the other hand, a client may not be able to use the product delivered if it’s not high-quality. In this scenario, the client loses money working with freelancers which makes their position tough as well.

Here are some things to think about if you’re dissatisfied with a freelancer’s work:

Look at the instructions you gave

Problems can arise with the work because of a lack of instructions. Go through the instructions you gave the freelancer carefully before sending a feedback email.

Were you clear on what you needed? Were you clear on the due date? Did you answer questions about the work promptly?

It’s not always the freelancers fault for dissatisfaction with the work. Be objective to determine if there are any things you could have done during the process to make it smoother.

Give concise edit requests

When hiring a freelancer for creative work, you typically get edits within your package. The conditions for how edits work are in the contract. For example, when I was taking on new clients, my contract said that two to three edits were included. I charged per hour for any additional edits.

Go through the work carefully. Give specific and courteous feedback along with any extra instructions the freelancer may need to complete the job to your satisfaction.

In the future, ask a lot of questions before hiring someone. Look at their past work, ask to speak with their other clients, and make sure you understand exactly what the service includes and doesn’t include.

Discuss compensation or amendments to the contract

Disputing invoices is a very tricky situation to handle. I’m hesitant to ask for refunds or refuse to pay an invoice from a freelancer because I know the struggle. Freelancers dedicate their time to a project regardless of the outcome. They want to get paid for the effort they put in thus far. There are also few other industries where you can get a service and then ask for your money back.

When you’re in the client’s shoes, there are occasions when disputing would be fair. Maybe you got work back late and not in the state that you agreed upon. Maybe the freelancer struggles with the work, but doesn’t communicate that with you until the final hour.

You should express your dissatisfaction respectfully. And there has to be a conversation about resolution. Run through the points above: look at the instructions you gave and offer concise edit requests. If you’ve done those things, look at your agreement to see if there are terms for dissatisfaction. Some freelancers offer a satisfaction guarantee.

Explain your situation honestly. They may be understanding and also feeling the disconnect between what you want and what they can deliver. Consider coming up with an amended agreement. Maybe you get a percentage refund for not getting usable work or they give you extra edits free of charge.

Take a deep breath

You can’t do everything yourself, but outsourcing can also be difficult. You have to find the right people and that takes time. If you find a freelancer who’s coachable and reliable, keep them around. They may not get it perfectly right on the first or second go around. But when they do, a quality freelancer to go to whenever you have a need is a valuable asset.