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  • Mar 09, 2013

Here’s how to avoid hiring a bad freelancer

If you are a small business or start up you might have already run the mistake of hiring a bad freelancer.  When it comes time to prioritizing targets, creating marketing plans and project deliverables this is where we separate the professionals from the green horns.  Now days everyone is using popular freelancer outsource websites to hire a freelancer. These sites are easy to use and filled with eager individuals looking to take work at any price. But what happens when the work you paid for was less than satisfying?  There is very little you can do because large outsource websites are not going to help you avoid getting ripped off and scammed by low quality freelance work.  Large outsource freelance websites do not check age, background, qualifications, and education of its members on the website. They simply let anyone join and take a percentage of profit from all of the jobs that pass though.  But there are a few things you can do before you hire a freelancer to avoid making a bad marketing mistake.

From what source you hire your freelancer from matters. Boutique or small marketing firms do a pretty good job qualifying their candidates for hire.  This is because they limit how many candidates they work with and screen them carefully to qualify.  If you go with a freelance outsource service you need to look at the background of that service.  While some seem quite legitimate, freelance outsource services are business models looking for quick turnover and short term profit. Do your homework and research the website you want to use. How many bad consumer reports or negative press has it had? You might want to check that out. Bad press is an indication of client satisfaction or in some cases dis-satisfaction.  If you read of unethical practices it might carry some weight.  So far there are no consumer websites to help regulate these guys and give the public fair warning to keep them legitimate.  Carefully read the profile of your freelancer and ask for their personal website, LinkedIn Page, or personal resume. Do a quick search in Google on their name. You may be surprised about what kind of information comes back.  Most professionals that have good credentials are easy to find and keep a good public profile to protect or promote their public image. If no profile exist, you might be hiring a kid or someone who is dishonest about their qualifications.

Avoid 3rd Party Freelancer Scams

Some so called 3rd party agencies or online project managers you find on outsource websites are freelance scams. These are individuals that look for your job post and pose as a business or agency freelancer. They have nothing to do with marketing they are just opportunist or lead generation scammers. Once they are awarded the job, they hire cheaper labor from possibly cheaper Easter labor pools and take a cut off the top. Some sell your job as a lead and earn a flat fee. In addition, you still have to pay the freelance website fee as well. As much as 40% of what you are paying for could all go to project fees and not actual work related cost.  What’s worse is that the agency or project manager probably does not have any credentials what so ever or working knowledge of the job he is responsible for. Heck, why not? No one checks anyway right? These guys just have the cleverness to know that they can earn some coin if they skim the top. If you have heard or read of bad marketing experiences from low quality work from freelancers, it might have been that one of these profit skimming project managers was to blame. The extra 40% you spent on a 3rd party agency could better have gone toward a higher paid qualified individual or small marketing agency that fits your budget.

How to choose a freelancer

Low budget bidding on a project usually indicates lack of experience, low education, no professional tools or seasonal work like a high school or a college kid on summer break. Sometimes it is a new kid on the block desperate to get his foot in the door. If you really need a simple task done Fiverr is an excellent resource to get small task done at a cheap price. If you need to increase your sales and set a target profit margin of 15%, you may need more than a kid on summer holiday or an entry level marketer to do the work.

A marketing professional should provide you with:

  • Marketing research and understanding of your target market as basis to begin the project
  • A marketing plan or a firm understanding of an outlined plan
  • Provide you with project management tools that verify task planed and completed
  • Agreed upon deliverables
  • Professional reporting on your project outcome
  • Samples of their work, portfolio and details of their services
  • Client references, case studies and endorsements

Always speak to your freelancer in person and make sure they are speaking the same language, can communicate well with you and understand your project fluently. If they have not vested the time in understanding your project walk away.  Ask questions and see if they are able to provide suggestions and ideas.  Do they understand your business and why you critically need your project done? Can they demonstrate successes they had in a similar project? Ask questions about the marketing tools and software they use. They should have a good amount of tools and services if they know what they are doing. In the end you need to see results. A qualified professionals can show you their proper verified credentials or business license, their time management reports and tools, and provide a report to prove their effectiveness.