You’ve got a problem you need help with and it’s bad enough that you’ll pay someone to solve it. But you don’t know the freelance space. So how do you hire your first freelancer without getting screwed? As someone who’s hired a lot of freelancers, I’ve got a few tips that might help you out. Below are my top four red flag warning signs of bad freelancers.
1. They Send a Template Cover Letter
Whenever you post a freelance gig you’ll usually get a wave of proposals. Most of the early proposals come from low-value freelancers who copy and paste templates because they believe the best way to win clients is to be the first to apply.
The thing is, the approach totally ignores the fact that you, as a client, want to hire the best person for the job. But the best person for the job isn’t someone who spams template proposals.
High-quality freelancers do the opposite. They take their time to craft a proper message that speaks to your specific needs. They treat you like a person. They try to establish a relationship.
So your best bet is to avoid anyone who sends a proposal that isn’t customized for your specific job post.
2. They Ignore Your Job Post Requirements
The next thing I look for are specific requirements that I mention in the job post. For example, I might tell applicants to put the word “Banana” at the top of their proposal so I know they read my whole job post. If their proposal doesn’t say, “Banana” at the top, then I don’t won’t to talk with them.
This is about attention to detail.
I don’t hire freelancers who don’t pay attention to minor details in the job post because those freelancers also won’t pay attention to the actual job requirements. If you hire people who don’t pay attention, you’ll waste a lot of money.
The best freelancers pay close attention to detail. They read your entire job post to make sure they know exactly what you need.
3. They Only Talks About Their Self
Freelancers who really want the job will do their best to prove that they’re the right one for you. So one of the biggest big red flag warning signs of bad freelancers for me is when their whole outreach message is about them.
For instance, if they start with, “I’m Jane and I have a Bachelor’s in Marketing and I would love to work on this because I am really interested in marketing…” that’s a big no-go for me.
Awesome freelancers who won’t let you down use their proposal to talk about their self. Instead, they’ll focus on you, your problems, your needs, your pains, your desires, your requests, your questions, and anything else that might relate to Y.O.U. as the client.
4. They’re Won’t Get on a Live Phone or Video Call
The last of my big red flag warning signs is that the freelancer only wants to talk by text. Now before anyone jumps down my throat, I realize there are good freelancers who only use text chat due to language barriers and I get it.
If your job is a $10 job and the stakes are low, then it’s totally fine to work with freelancers who won’t talk on the phone.
But when the stakes are higher, such as a $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 job, then you MUST talk with them on a phone call at a minimum and preferrably a video call using software like Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts to make sure they’re not full of crap.
It’s easy for scammers to slip through your defenses by text. They have time to think and craft carefully tailored messages. But when they’re on video they have to resopnd in the moment. A scammer will never get on a video call so you won’t have to worry about that.
Lastly, Trust Your Gut
If all else fails, just go with what you feel. If you feel even remotely weird about a freelancer, don’t hire them. You’ve literally got millions of people to choose from, so there’s zero reason to work with a freelancer you’re not 100% confident is the best person for you.