It happens from time to time to be so busy that we need an extra hand so we thought that a Freelancer may be the best solution rather than hiring new guys. In the following lines I am going to tell you my experiences with the freelancers I have hired and why it is really hard to find a good one.
This story is for Freelancers and Clients in the same time. Read this as a guide of how to choose the best freelancers rather than considering that Freelancers are bad. I am also a Freelancer, basically s’UP Production is the extended version of myself – the freelancer.

In the last month I needed more than ever to outsource some of my work to other people because of some factors that I don’t want to bother you about – mostly medical stuff. We had 4 projects in the pipeline and we were looking for an animator to help us a bit. We are active for a long time now on oDesk ( now it is called UpWork) and this is our main source of scouting for talents. So the logical way is to look on Upwork for help!

First Mistake: You can’t do everything! Don’t lie in your cover letter

 

You know that kind of guy that asks tons of questions before actually buying anything? I am that kind of person! This behavior reflects also in the entrepreneurial life. Before deciding who will work on the projects I put a lot of questions. Surprisingly, most of the freelancers could do anything I have asked – “that’s just amazing” I said, the budgets were good, the timelines also good. After I made my choices and finally started the projects I was very enthusiastic to see what they will come up with. I don’t know why, maybe I am really bad at HR and I don’t know how to choose people but they ALL did a job that ”only a mother can love” – get it?

You can’t tell for sure how talented someone is until you test him. But most of the freelancers refuse to be tested without any compensations. So how do you hire someone knowing for sure they will make great work? You can propose to work at a sample draft without any money but if they do a good job they will get the project and also a small bonus for their willingness of doing the demo.

My advise for freelancers: never ever lie your clients! A client will appreciate who you are at that specific moment and believe it or not, you actually have a chance to be hired for your honesty.

My advise for clients: don’t trust every word the freelancer says. Ask questions about their skills, ask them again. Then ask them to create a short sample from the work. If they do a great job motivate them with a small bonus at the end of the project.

 

Second Mistake: What’s with the silence? Make some buzz for god’s sake!

 

This is the most hated part of freelancing (from client’s perspective). You hire this guy and then he starts to work on your project…

A week has past…

You send a message

Send another one…

Finally he responds saying that he had some problems with his laptop. Seriously?? And during this period you haven’t worked on my project? How come your laptop broke down exactly these days? There’s no internet outside your house to send a poor email saying that you have problems? Really?

Unfortunately sooner or later you’ll find this kind of guys. As a client you want to be informed at least once at 2 days about your project. You want to be active, to send feedback and check if everything is OK. Then why the freelancer doesn’t think the same? For few reasons ( I was there and I learnt my lesson):

– they are working so slowly that they don’t have anything to show.

– they are not working on your project in the first few days.

– they simply want to show you the entire project so you can ask for as little changes as possible.

– they went to vacation for a few days and forgot to tell you.

– their dog has eaten their project – just kiddin’ …

The sad part is that you don’t have something particularly to do about this, you can’t predict how good the communication’s skills of the freelancer you hire will be.

My advice for freelancers – Give updates every day or at least once at 2 days. You’ll keep your client happy and they will work with you on other projects (if they are happy with the project of course)

My advice for clients – Never work again with freelancers that don’t respond to your messages. Period.

Third Mistake: Don’t run with the upfront money!

 

I must admit I was a foolish when I did this – no, I wasn’t the one who ran with the money – I was the robbed client…

This time it was a local freelancer from Romania. This guy sent us an email telling that he wants to be hired in our studio. I must admit he has a very nice portfolio with animated videos similar to what we do. I have scheduled an appointment with him in the studio and I told him that we need an animation done in 1 week – we had all the illustrations ready. After I have explained what the project’s about he was very delighted and more than happy to work on this project. The budget for this task was way too generous for the amount of work he was about to do but because I wanted this project ready in a week, I thought this is the best way to have it done – with a big budget.

He requested an upfront which I agreed. We also ask for upfront, it’s normal in this industry. In the same day I paid 30% from the agreed quote.

Then the silence ….. I have been asking him if everything is OK and if he wants anything from us. He said everything is OK and he will deliver the project on time.

One week has been past, the deadline is near and I start again to ask for some updates, some previews, some something. He wasn’t ready yet.. he wants one more day to be able to finish everything. The next day he wanted another day. In the third day he never answered again to my phone calls. I got some text messages from him telling me that he feels sorry because he let me down, he couldn’t handle the stress and he wasn’t able to finish the project. The sad part is that he barely touched the project.

Now here’s the problem. I come from a world where people pay me to do my job – and I do it. They TRUST me and they don’t ask for contracts or identification paper for the upfront payment. Now this is the big problem. I thought every decent freelancer knows these rules and they all are nice guys. I trusted this freelancer because his portfolio was great and he worked in my way before. As a consequence now I can’t do anything about my lost money because I don’t know anything about this guy.

My advice for freelancers – if you want to be a rockstar freelancer, as stupid as it sounds, never run with the upfront!

My advice for clients – never ever give money to someone without a sort of security that you can get your money back. Make a contract or work through freelance platforms like Upwork or Freelancer.

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