Our Top Tips to protect yourself when buying Freelance Services
If you have found yourself wearing too many hats in the business, but you aren’t ready to hire another employee, then freelancers are for you. The workforce today is evolving at a rapid pace. Increasingly, more people are choosing to work for themselves, giving the traditional eight-hour workday the boot. This new wave of self-employed professionals has paved the way for what we now call the gig economy.
There are so many benefits to working with freelancers. They are cost-effective compared to a full-time employee. You also have access to top tier talent, meaning that the quality of work is better, and there is a vast diversity in skills. Hiring freelancers also frees up your time to work on other parts of the business. Areas which require more attention such as operations or finances – although you can even hire freelancers to do that job for you too!
So many companies are getting on board the freelancer trend. The decision to hire a freelancer is beneficial financially and makes sense from a business standpoint. Although hiring a freelancer comes with many perks and benefits, unfortunately there are some cons too.
Cons of hiring freelancers may include:
Lack of formal structure
Freelancers can work from anywhere in the World that has internet. They might be from your local area, but they could just as easily be on holiday on the other side of the world and still accepting your work.
Having no formal structure also means that sometimes they might work without a contract. If a freelancer isn’t working with a contract, this can leave businesses without a guarantee that the work they have assigned will be completed.
Some freelancers can decide to up and disappear during a job or project. Deadlines can be missed, low quality work might be delivered, or they can ghost you completely. Freelancers can be replaced very quickly, but the mess they leave behind might not be so simple.
Quality is a lucky dip.
You can spend weeks searching for the perfect freelancer and think you have found the person who will complete the job to a standard you are happy with. Reality is though, that sometimes they just won’t meet your expectations.
You can protect yourself by asking to see examples of their previous work or asking them to submit a small sample. Never ask for a sample that is going to be time consuming or unrealistic because freelancers very rarely enjoy or say yes to working for free.
If you’re happy with examples of their previous work, but you still aren’t 100% convinced, find out who they have worked with previously. Reach out to those previous clients and see if any of them will provide a testimonial.
Freelancers usually work on multiple projects.
One of the biggest cons is that freelancers are usually working on more than one project at a time. Freelancers often don’t have the luxury to depend on any one business or an individual to provide a single source of stable income. So instead, they will frequently take on a couple or more projects at once.
What this could mean for your business is that you aren’t getting work as quickly as you would like. There is also the risk that during your project, your Freelancer might receive another project they deem to be a higher priority. They may well end up pushing your job to the bottom of the priority list.
Finding the right freelancer can take time.
It may take a little bit of trial and error before finding a freelancer you want to work with regularly. Their delivery time and attitude might be great, but their style doesn’t match yours. Or on the contrary, they might match your style, but they disappear, miss deadlines or are continuously having breakdowns in communication.
Recently there has been a shift in mindset toward freelancers. There is still a stigma or common belief remaining, around the idea that freelancers lack in skill compared to a full-time employee. However, many corporations are snow tarting to see the benefits of using freelancers over traditional full-time or part-time employees. Freelancers ease the financial burden because you only pay for the work they do, and they are not entitled to benefits such as sick leave and bonuses.
Always keep in mind that hiring freelancers can be a double-edged sword. It can be a perfect choice, but there are rare occasions where you may end up with more problems than you started with.
Always take into consideration the pros and cons when hiring freelancers, and when you find someone that can provide quality work and is reliable, retain them. Build up a good working relationship and rapport with them, to help make sure you can utilise them again in the future.
Now that you know the pros and cons of hiring freelancers, let dive into some tips to protect yourself and your business while working with them.
Tips to help protect you / your business when it comes to Freelancers
- Always work with a contract
As mentioned above, if a freelancer works without a contract, there is the possibility that they will disappear when a project is halfway done. This can leave a significant mess for you or your next freelancer to clean up. This will often end up costing time and money that you wouldn’t have wasted, had you just put a contract in place to start with.
By outlining your expectations, deliverables, and cost, there is no room for confusion of conflict down the track. Everything is clearly laid out at the beginning, so they can get to work with peace of mind they will get paid, and you can proceed safe in the knowledge that you will receive the work you are paying for.
Note – largely speaking, using a Freelance platform such as Fiverr, will cover you on this point. Fiverr won’t release payment to a Freelancer, until they have delivered their full expected workload, and you have signed-off on this.
2. Ask them to track their time
Depending on how experienced a freelancer is, they might already track their time through a billing system. If they don’t already track their time, ask them to do so through a website such as Toggl.
By doing this, you are holding the freelancer accountable for their billable hours. Time tracking websites are also perfect for providing proof of service. Some of them ask freelancers to upload a screenshot of their progress. This means that if you suspect they didn’t complete the work, you can ask for proof from their time tracking website.
3. Use a freelancing website
Finding freelancers through sites such as Fiverr and Upwork take a lot of the uncertainty out of the hiring process. A lot of the research, mentioned above, is done for you, so you don’t need to contact their previous clients or spend time writing up a contract. Their profile will have reviews from previous jobs, their cost rate and their capabilities. So there is no need to waste time having long conversations only to find out they can’t offer what you need.
You will also be able to see how many other clients they are currently working with. On Fiverr, if you look next to a Freelancer’s rating, you will be able to view how many jobs are currently in their queue. This is a great indicator of where your work request might fit in their roadmap. If your job requires a lot of attention to detail, it is wise to avoid hiring freelancers who have a lot of jobs in their queue. Instead, opt for those Freelancers who have higher ratings, but with a shorter queue.
Red flags to look out for
Before hiring anyone through one of these websites, make sure you spend time going through their profile and looking for any red flags. Red flags include:
- Poorly written profile and gigs
- Bad use of English language, grammar and spelling – this is especially of concern if you are wanting them to do any sort of writing gig for you!
- Using fake images in their profile or gig description
- Miss-match of example images of finished work – particularly with graphic designers. If their example artwork all looks to be of varying quality and not in a coherent style or format, this might indicate that it isn’t all theirs
- Their time zone doesn’t match up with their location
- Their delivery time is exceptionally short
Once you are confident that the profile isn’t fake, feel free to contact the seller using the message or email function.
It’s always a good idea to contact the seller before placing an order. This is because sellers might change their location or claim they are capable of things they can’t do, and you want to make sure they are who they say they are before handing over your money.
The top reason for using websites like Fiverr is because if you don’t receive what you have asked for the freelancer won’t be able to take your money and run. Your money sits securely with the website until you have declared that you have received what you have paid for. This also benefits genuine freelancers who, without these websites, may have issues receiving payment from buyers.
Hiring freelancers can be extremely valuable for entrepreneurs and managers who are looking to free up their time to focus on other parts of the business. They are cost-effective and give you access to talented people who you would not otherwise have access to.
Like all things in business, there is caution that needs to be taken when hiring a person to complete work for you. Protect yourself by having a contract, asking them to track their time and provide proof of work, or by using websites which take care of the groundwork for you.
However, when you do come to find a freelancer, make sure you have done your homework. Think carefully before jumping into business with the first person you speak too, but also – make sure you know what you’re asking for, and what your expectations are for delivery.