Freelancers: they make the world go around when it comes to modern marketing. Over the last year, the use of gig work platforms (like Upwork and Fiverr, for example) has grown by more than 30% in economies around the world. As if that weren't enough, it’s now possible to find freelancers working in all industries, including finance, agriculture, education, transportation, marketing, and more. With this in mind, it’s clear why freelancers have become so popular. Freelancers provide an attractive “third option” for companies who need skilled workers but don't want to hire full-time employees.
If you’re new to hiring freelancers, though, the process can be a bit intimidating. How do you know you’ve found a good match? What if you choose the wrong person? What do you even look for, if you’re not hiring a traditional employee? In situations like this, knowing what to avoid is every bit as necessary as knowing what you want in a freelancer. That said, here’s our top list of red flags to avoid at all costs with your next freelancer.
You know the old saying: “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” That’s as accurate with freelancers as it is with anything else. In the world of freelancing, you get what you pay for. With that in mind, here are a few things to avoid as you search for the perfect freelancer:
Everyone loves a bargain. The problem is, though, that not all deals are good ones. While it’s great to score a top-quality service at a discounted price, you get exactly what you pay for with freelancers. Here’s why: good freelancers are professionals in a competitive field. It sounds harsh, but their rates reflect their skill level, not your budget. Professional, highly-skilled freelancers are busy people. They price their services in a way that allows them to earn a good living, work with the clients they like, and churn out top-quality work on every project.
Although it might seem exciting to find a freelancer who only charges a few dollars an hour, the services you’ll get will likely reflect this cut-rate price. Most of the freelancers who undercut every other professional in their industry are non-native English speakers. They may also be new to the industry or offering services they’ve never provided before. The moral of the story is this: be willing to pay for excellent service from your freelancer. Skilled, high-quality professionals are out there, but you have to be ready to compensate them for what they’re worth.
While the grand majority of freelancers are reliable, seasoned professionals, every industry has its bad apples. Additionally, there’s a level of uncertainty built in with the experience of hiring freelancers. In most cases, the freelancer is remote, and you may never meet him or her. Because of this, it’s essential to verify their credentials and experience any way you can. One of the best ways to do this is to read the freelancer’s previous reviews. Past clients are a great indicator of the overall quality and reliability of a freelancer. If you don’t see any prior client reviews on the freelancer’s website or platform page, though, beware. Ask the freelancer if they’d be willing to put you in touch with some prior clients. If the answer is no, hire someone else.
The occasional email typo: it happens to the best of us. Freelancers, though, are professionals you’re bringing in to provide a professional service. Because of this, they should pay extra attention to their spelling and grammar. If you notice that a freelancer has obvious spelling and grammar errors in their profile, outreach email, or cover letter, keep looking. This is a sign of hasty work and poor editing skills, and likely means you’ll get more of the same down the road.
You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get your freelancer to respond to you. Slow response times are one of the biggest red flags to be aware of with freelancers. Look at it this way: even if a freelancer is too busy to accept your project, or is not taking on new clients, they should spare a few seconds to inform you. In some cases, they might even provide a referral. If you don’t hear from a freelancer for days or weeks after your initial contact, be wary about hiring them, even if the answer they provide opens the door to further communication.
Beware of any freelancer that promises big, since it’s likely that they’ll also deliver small. If you hire an SEO freelancer, for example, it’s a red flag for the freelancer to promise you first-page rankings within a month. Instead, look for a freelancer who clearly understands their industry, and makes realistic promises and goals born from that understanding. Not only will this person provide better service, but you’ll be able to build a working relationship with a foundation of trust and deference.
There’s no doubt: that hiring is a challenging process, no matter how you cut it. Hiring freelancers adds an extra level of unpredictability, though. Fortunately, it is possible to find professional, skilled, high-quality freelancers you can rely on for the long term - you have to know what to look for and what to avoid. Regardless of whether you need a freelance copywriter or cartographer, steer clear of the red flags listed above. Tip the scales in your favour further by hiring a freelancer that works with a well-known agency, has plenty of positive reviews, and has an extensive portfolio of high-quality work to display. Still nervous about going it alone? Let us help you find your perfect freelancer. We’re here to help make your working life easier and smoother - no matter what you need.
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Kendall Backus is a former bartender, SEO professional, and the Founder of ROI On Tap. Kendall previously helped over 400+ businesses gain first-page rankings before transitioning to the Online Marketing Agency space. He has since gone on to increase customers and leads for local businesses by 10x with the same tactics he uses to grow his own digital agency. Kendall started ROI On Tap to help business owners market their businesses online during which they can focus on their passions.