If you’ve every hired a freelance, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Extend your hand, drop a grand, build a brand, right? Eh, not exactly. Usually it’s more like this:
I gave this dude a thousand bucks to do build my app. He said he was a pro. Then he comes back two months later with the work of a pre-schooler. I was lucky for a refund. Gave the contract to my five year old instead. At least she knows her name.
Yeah, that’s more like it. Freelancers suck.
You don’t have to be shy. You can admit it. I know you think it’s true. All of these freelancers. Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com. They can’t help you.
They say they can. They say they will. Words you tend to doubt. Personally…I’d rather light my cash on fire so I could stomp it out.
Freelancers. They bat their eyes, take your cash, mad dash out the door. Leave you with nothing; you feel like a whore. So was it worth it? Should you try again? Questions every client has asked before.
My First Freelance Failure
When I hired my first freelancer I blew a thousand dollars overnight. What did I get for it? An unfinished product and a foreigner with his hand out. Said he couldn’t finish for the agreed amount.
Obviously I fired him.
But that wasn’t the end of my problems.
The project wasn’t done. It needed work. So I hired someone else. He failed too. I hired writers for other projects. They failed too. Some started then skipped out. Some delivered complete crap.
The worst part? I knew I didn’t suck. I gave good instructions and was flexible and nice. Did everything I could to make my freelancers happy. So why did they screw me over?
At one point it got so bad I ran out of cash. My platform with more than 500 active users, ran out of money to move it forward. Ultimately, I had to shut it down.
Then I Became a Freelancer..
Once the dust settled I started down a new path. Created a freelance profile. Signed up on Odesk (now Upwork) and other freelance sites. Finally experienced the world from a new pair of shoes.
And what did I discover?
Turns out things look different from the other side. But not that different. So here’s some stuff I noticed from the worker side of the industry. Reasons freelancers ditch you. Reasons they skip you. Reasons they fail you and disappoint you.
1. Your Job Description Sucks Ass
As a freelancer, 85% of job descriptions I see…suck big donkey nuts. Part of the reason they suck is there’s no info. Clients go online and post something like this:
Looking for freelancers with the lowest rates.
Need a writer to write stuff.
If you’re a writing ninja please apply.
You know what that tells me? You don’t know what you want so it doesn’t matter what I write. Also says you’re a cheapskate with high expectations. You’ll probably low-ball me when I apply for $3 an hour. No wonder you get low-quality workers reaching out!
What it doesn’t say is what the hell the job is for.
How do I know if I’m qualified when I don’t know what you want? How do I know if I’m right for the job if you don’t give any details? So I apply to your gig and do the best I can. It’s not to your standard, but you never let me know your standard in the first place!
2. You Expect Everything for Nothing
Five bucks gets you an ice cream from the neighborhood truck. It won’t buy you a triple hot fudge sundae from Cheese Cake Factory. You’d think that would be obvious, but apparently it’s not.
I’ve met a ton of clients over the years who want the world, but can’t afford it. I know you watched the Tiger King on Netflix. If you take anything away from Joe Exotic, it should be this…
You can’t hire a professional hitman for $3,000!
When you want the best freelancers, you gotta pay for it!
Even when you hire freelancers with the highest rates, you’ll usually pay less than a $10/hr employee’s salary per month. That’s because freelancers aren’t full-time employees. You pay for specific projects and may not use them again for years.
Stop low-balling these people. They’ve gotta eat to for the love of god!
3. You Think Your Freelancer is Your Employee
Freelancers are so far from employees it’s not even funny. You don’t pay them regularly. You don’t pay them a salary. You don’t give them benefits. You don’t call them unless you need something. You expect instant responses when it’s convenient for you.
Skype at 2 am, sure no problem!
Freelancers are not employees. You can’t treat them like they are.
That’s just how it is.
They freelance because they’re the ones who didn’t want a job. So when you treat them like employees, they hate you. If you’re their only client you might get away with it for a while. They might answer fast.
But once they have a steady flow of clients every month who offer triple what you pay, then the law of supply and demand kicks in. Also the law of quality of life. Why work for someone who sucks when they don’t have to?
So that’s pretty much it.
It’s easy to get good freelancers.
I know because I’ve hired a bunch. At first they all sucked, but now I know the mistakes to avoid.
You can’t stop the shoddy ones from applying to your gigs. But you can learn what to look for in the best people. You can also learn how to prove yourself to those people so they’ll want to work with you.
- Write clear job posts that describe what you need in great detail.
- Be flexible and understand that freelancers have lives too.
- Never assume freelancers are employees because they’re not.
- Always communicate as much as possible with your freelancer.
- Avoid micro-management or you’ll scare the best ones off.
- Set expectations up front, then give freelancers room to work.
- Understand if they’re good you’re probably not their only client.
What Should You Look for in a Freelancer?
It’s one thing to be a great client. That’s half the battle.
Freelancers can tell when you’re a quality client right from your job post. If it’s clear and descriptive you’ll attract great workers. But then it’s your turn. You have to choose. You have to pick the best person for the job.
With so many applications, how do you know who to pick?
Here’s some traits to look for:
- Do they communicate clearly and in your native tongue?
- Do they make it very clear how they can help you?
- Do they go on about their experience? (it’s a bad sign if they do)
- Do they have a commanding presence like professionals do?
- What’s in their profile? Does it seem they do good work?
- What’s your gut tell you? If something feels off, it probably is.
- They may have other clients, but do they make you feel like #1?
At this point I’ve spent years on freelance sites. Hiring. Working. It’s the same things every time. Clients short-change freelancers. Freelancers short-change clients. If everyone would work together things would turn out great.
Start with clear communication. Set expectations. Make sure you’re a match for each other because things can go bad fast. Give freelancers room to work, but if they slack don’t be afraid to confront them.
Some freelancers suck and take advantage of the system. Others are legit and worth ten times a single employee.
Above all just make sensible decisions.
Stop bidding for bottom dollar and understand that even higher priced freelancers usually cost less. Be smart. Choose wisely, and if you still can’t find the one, you can always contact us.