By Stan Roach
If you’re self-employed, then you have probably had to deal with freelancers before. Maybe you needed someone to write some content for your blog or sales material for one of your products, or you needed someone to do some work on your website.
While most freelancers online have good intentions, there are some bad apples out there, and working with the wrong people could cost you and put your business in jeopardy. However, when you know how to hire freelancers properly and avoid mistakes, you’ll increase your chances of getting your money’s worth when hiring one. Here are some of the most common mistakes you can make when hiring freelancers.
Some people might view this as extreme, but conducting a background check on a freelancer could avoid a lot of headaches and issues later on. For instance, if you’re hiring someone to do some programming work and your website handles sensitive information, there is the very real chance that they end up hacking your website and stealing information.
Not only will you have to deal with your clients getting defrauded, but you could find yourself facing some serious legal repercussions. So, if you’re going to be hiring someone that could jeopardize your business, it’s essential that you perform a background check on them.
This also goes if you’re going to be hiring a virtual assistant. These people will often have access to contact information and other important information about your clients, and you never know what they could do with this information. They could even try to impersonate you and sabotage your business if the split was not amicable.
You don’t have to conduct an FBI level background check on them either. You could simply ask for their resume and use a service like PublicRecordsReviews, for instance. This service will allow you to check arrest records using nothing but the person’s name and location. Since this service only displays public information, you don’t have to ask for more personal information to perform a background check on them, but you should ask for consent as per the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The service will allow you to check if they’ve ever been arrested for fraud, identity theft, or anything that could be dangerous to your business.
This may seem counterintuitive at first glance, but hiring people only when you have emergencies is a recipe for disaster. If you have something that needs to be done at the last minute, you’ll be under more pressure to hire somebody – you then might end up hiring someone that is unfit for the job or can’t keep deadlines, and be back to square one. This is why you should have a short list of reputable and tested providers on call specifically for these types of issues.
One thing you could do if you want to find great freelancers is set up a list of candidates, narrow your choices down to a few of them, and set up a test job. For instance, if you’re going to be hiring freelance writers, set up a small 2 to 3 article job to each and give them a short deadline. This will give you an idea of their work ethics, how easy it is to communicate with them, how good they are with deadlines, and if their style works for you.
While you might find some hidden gems out there, you usually get what you pay for when it comes to freelance providers. Great providers will want to get compensated accordingly for their work, and only going with cheap providers will make the search more difficult. You can also expect to pay much more to test them.
The best way to go about it is to test people at all price points. Check a few providers at the lower end of the spectrum, a few that are moderately priced, and some high-end providers as well if you can afford it. This will give you a glimpse of what you can expect from each level.
If you find someone at a lower price point that can deliver quality, then this usually means that they’re trying to make a name for themselves. However, there’s the possibility that they’ll increase their rates at some point in time, so be prepared for that.
And don’t make the mistake of assuming that those who charge more are automatically top of the line. Freelancers can literally charge whatever they want, so if you want to know what they’re actually worth, try to haggle the price down. You’ll often realize that a lot of them will be willing to lower their prices drastically.
Clear communication is everything when working with freelancers. You might have found the best freelancer in the world, but if you can’t communicate what your expectations are clearly, the scope of work, what you want the end result to be, and what resources will be available to them, then it isn’t going to work. You also have to be clear about what would happen if you need some revisions, and don’t expect them to bend to your every whim if you were unclear with your instructions.
By being clear with them, you’ll have much more chance of getting what you were looking for, and on time. It’s also very important that you’re as clear as possible when posting jobs on freelancing sites like Freelancer.com and Guru. This way, you’ll know that the candidates you’re hiring know exactly what will be expected of them.
If you’ve been on the search for freelancers for a while now, you may already know that good ones are worth their weight in gold. So, you have to do everything in your power to keep a good relationship with them.
One of the best ways to infuriate freelancers is withholding payments for too long. If you’ve set a clear deadline for payments, make sure you stick to it. Remember that their livelihood might be on the line. If you didn’t have time to review their work and are behind schedule, don’t punish them for it. At least send them a partial payment and let them know what’s going on. In most cases, they’ll be able to understand the situation, and you’ll get to keep them.
Also, make sure that you’re as available as possible to answer their questions, and answer them as fast as you can. Not answering could end up with delays. Remember that it’s also part of your responsibility to make sure that everything is done on time.
It’s also very important that you consider cultural differences when working with freelancers, especially if you’re going to be working with freelancers from a completely different part of the world.
Some cultures, for instance, have a very different concept of deadlines, so it’s very important that you let them know that your deadlines are strict and to be respected. There are also some major differences in communication styles. While some people might prefer to go straight to the point, others might consider your tone harsh. So, make sure that you at least get an idea of how business interactions go in certain countries.
While freelancer sites like Upwork will do a lot to make sure that you can get a good idea of a freelancer’s quality of work by looking at their ratings, they don’t tell the whole story. What works for other people might not necessarily work for you.
For example, a designer/programmer may have worked on small-scale projects before, but yet are not ready for a project like yours. So, make sure that they have experience with the exact type of work that you need, check the feedback they’ve received in detail, ask for references, and ask for examples of similar work they’ve done as well.
If you manage to avoid these few mistakes, you’ll increase the chances of finding freelancers that will get the job done. Make sure that you always vet them thoroughly, test them at first, and make sure that they are ready to take on the specific type of work you need them for.