As a startup, what are the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer online – what are the risks involved and how do you plan to prevent hiring a bad freelancer?
I made some mistakes recently which cost me some money and I want you to learn from me.
Some freelancers will stop being my friends as I’m going to let out the cat in this post. But I don’t mind, because it’s my joy if other clients don’t fall victim to bad eggs in the freelancing industry.
Attention is mostly placed on the benefits of hiring a freelancer or how freelancers can start a high paying gig on the internet without much guidance on how clients can avoid bad freelancers or vice-versa. Hence only a very few authors talk about the risks attached when startups hire a freelancer online.
Understanding the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer, however, is beyond how to get a cheap service or pitch for big opportunities on freelancing platforms that are available online.
If you agree with me after reading this post, kindly use the comment box below to share your own experience and help share this post.
We have to face this problem and create sanity among online freelancers.
How I was Scammed By A Freelancer
Hiring a freelancer could have many advantages which had helped my business gain traction online. But unfortunately, the bad ones among freelancers use this platform to scam people.
[Tweet “Most freelancers think they are untraceable and they choose to abscond with your money without completing your tasks. If you have not experienced this, then you are probably lucky to have met the good ones.”]
But what if the good ones also decide to make a bad choice tomorrow, how do you intend to avoid being a victim?
So, that makes considering the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer very crucial.
I chose this topic in order to share my personal experience on how a freelancer I have known for almost a year scammed me.
In fact, I have been scammed twice this year by two different freelancers from India. This shows there are many of them taking advantage of people in the bid to help solve a problem online.
As long as you find yourself in a circumstance where you need someone to help you fix something, you’re prone to be scammed.
But you can’t let that happen to you after learning from my mistakes.
You can blame me for making some stupid mistakes, but please don’t do that yet until you read the whole story.
By the way, those who take advantage of the freelancing industry to scam people have a choice to truly be a good brother we geeks call ourselves, but they only choose fortune at the expense of their good names.
This is very pathetic…
The Dark Side of Once A Brother
I was duped by a freelancer whom I had known with good records for almost a year. After working for me more than three times, something came over him and he made a wrong choice.
I met the guy on Freelancer when I had a plugin issue on my blog. He solved the problem and was able to retain me as a returning customer.
We won’t meet on Freelancer again as WhatsApp and PayPal served us really well to communicate and make payments respectively.
Since then, we had been good partners. I sent him a gift when he got married.
Before I gave him the last project, I told him of another guy from India who took money from me to design a 3-D logo but ended to be a scammer.
He told me we’re brothers already and more so, he is a Punjabi, not an Indian. But unfortunately, they both turned out to be scums nobody would ever want to meet.
[Tweet “Black or White, North or South, West or East, Indian or Punjabi, Nigerian or American, there are scammers everywhere.”]
And we all must know that!
After this guy took advance payment from me, he came up with an excuse for not starting the project immediately – claiming he had a family issue to quickly attend to and asked for two weeks which I granted.
And that was the end.
When I didn’t hear from him after the due date, I started sending him messages on WhatsApp. He read everything but to my surprise, he failed to reply for good three days before he eventually blocked me on the fourth day.
Initially, I was concerned until I asked someone from India to reach out to him and pretend to give him a project which he was eager to accept. The scum didn’t tell my friend he was actually having a family problem.
But at a point, my friend made him realize he was sent to him by me to find out what was wrong with him, that was when he told him he was having a serious family issue.
The question is why did he block me on WhatsApp despite our contractual agreement?
Why didn’t he appeal to me that he won’t be able to carry out the project because of his problem and ask me to give him more time to refund my money?
Why did he show interest in collecting another job from my friend if he actually had a family problem?
Well, that only mattered if he was actually a good person as no scammers had a guilty conscience.
I don’t mean all freelancers are scums.
[Tweet “But because freelancers operate online – no physical location, it is very easy for the scums among them to choose to be scums.”]
Why Small Businesses Hire A Freelancer
If you are running a small business, there are chances of hiring a professional to help you carry out a certain task which you can’t do on your own and pay the person off without having any permanent relationship with him.
This has a lot of benefits these days than having someone permanently on your payroll and yet you will still be the one taking care of his rent, hospital bill, and feeding.
Human capital management kills small businesses easily. And one of the strategies in place to prevent this is hiring a freelancer instead.
But yet there is a mixture of feelings to deal with.
If despite all the benefits attached, I’m not comfortable hiring a freelancer, you can’t blame me. The mistake I made was trusting those guys, whereas freelancers aren’t meant to be trusted as they have no long-term commitment to your business.
The concern is if a freelancer is less productive or he disappears without accomplishing a project being paid for, the business might suffer some damages before the problem can be fixed.
So, to take care of the aspect that troubles my mind, Kevinpayne suggests that hiring a freelancer requires some work of a detective – investigation, perseverance, agility, and mental toughness.
To prevent being scammed is not rejecting the available option but understanding the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer.
Risks of Hiring A Freelancer
A lot of risks are involved when you give a project to a freelancer you meet online. Whether he has been working for you or not or recommended to you by a friend whom he had worked for in the past doesn’t mean he is an angel.
All this has no meaning when your freelancer decides to change. This can’t be written on his face and you won’t know about his ulterior motives. The moment he changes, the whole story changes. You’ll begin to wonder if he was the nice guy you used to laud, or the guy that used to call you brother.
To avoid this from happening to you, watch out for the following risks:
Freelancers Go Dark
Most online freelancers don’t have stakes. Even if they do, they don’t disclose it because they’re not committed to their clients and they won’t want you to trace them if they eventually go at large.
[Tweet “Freelancers are just some kinds of guys whom all they think about is opportunities. That makes them unreliable. They have the tendency of deserting you in the middle of your project.”]
If money is involved, you would have to pay another freelancer and start all over again. You might need to spend above your initial budget to complete a project, because of their greediness and lack of loyalty.
The bad eggs among them are organized criminals. They don’t have a traceable address or contact information. They switch profiles to confuse clients and make their escape fast and smooth.
Freelancers Lack Commitment
Freelancers that have no registered business have no image to protect than his computer and data bundle. The work you give them has no legal binding. If they miss deadlines, there is nothing you can do about it.
According to ImTips, that is “part and parcel of freelancing”.
But can that be real?
Sometimes, they abandon your work in favour of a better offer and eventually run away if more work are coming from high-paying clients. If you’re kindhearted, you might be thinking your freelancer is sick or in trouble without knowing he is long gone.
Freelancers are Threats
[Tweet “When you give a project to a freelancer, it weakens your security. And once your freelancer has access to your credentials, your system, database or process documents become vulnerable.”]
Most clients want to know what experience a freelancer has before hiring him. If your competitors find out a freelancer has worked for you before, don’t trust they won’t buy him to their side because of the information he has about your project.
If the job given to a freelancer requires spying on you, he won’t mind using your information at his disposal just to accomplish the work and get paid.
As I’m in Nigeria and my freelancer was in India, there would be some slight disparity in the law governing freelancing between the two countries. Consequently, it won’t be easy for me to file a case against him.
In a situation like this, all I could do was to report him to the freelancing platform where I met him and request for his ban, and alert others to beware of him.
Ways To Avoid Hiring Bad Freelancers
There are many ways to avoid hiring bad freelancers. A few of them are discussed below based on my experience and how I was able to learn from my mistake:
Document Payment Agreement
This is very important to know how much to pay, how to pay, and when to pay your freelancer.
You can prepare a short document on the project including the payment and you both attest to it before the commencement of work.
If you have a clear record of your discussions and payment arrangement, it won’t be easy for him to abscond.
Set Clear Security Protocol
Before hiring a freelancer online, create a system that can make you track his activity on your project.
You can do this by specifying his job and ensuring he doesn’t cross his boundary.
Before letting out the project to him, make him understand he will be reporting his progress to you until the job is completed.
And after the job is done, change all credentials to prevent him from coming behind.
Don’t make your freelancer feel he has all the time in the world to finish your project. Make him know the job must be completed within a specific period of time before hiring him.
If he asks for an extension without a meaningful reason, don’t hire him. Don’t make any advance payment if your freelancer is not going to start work immediately. Don’t let them whip your sentiment as most turn out to be a scam.
Don’t be too friendly with your freelancer or make him work for you permanently. After a job is completed, discharge him and find another freelancer next time you need another service.
But if for one reason you must use your old freelancer, don’t deal with him outside the freelancing platform such as Freelancer, Fiverr, or Upwork. Those that have ulterior motives would drive you out of those platforms to avoid being tracked on the job.
If you take the bait and he disappears, how would you file for his dismissal without proof?
Don’t Bypass Freelancing Platforms
The mistake I made was offering my freelancer a job bypassing the platform through which we met.
He drove me out of the platform and started interacting with me on Whatsapp without knowing his dubious intention.
As he disappeared, he won’t be able to abscond with my money if I had stayed on the platform.
Staying on the platform has many advantages clients need to know, which include, that a freelancer with bad records will be exposed and anyone planning to create a scene won’t succeed.
Review Freelancers Track Records
Check very well your freelancer has a good reputation. Before hiring a freelancer online, look through his profile and read what others are saying about him.
Then look for his past clients, if possible contact some of them to verify the genuineness of the sources of those sweet comments. If no good results, don’t hire him.
Connect Freelancers on Facebook
Before hiring a freelancer online, ask him to connect with you on Facebook and check the kind of groups he belongs to.
Make some bold moves to find out about him from the admins or other members of those groups. This will help you track him.
If he gives you his real Facebook account, he won’t be able to scam you and escape as his Facebook reputation is at stake.
And if he does, try to make him more popular by joining those groups and exposing him there. But make sure you have your evidence.
As said, pros and cons of hiring a freelancer online are beyond how clients can get cheap services or how freelancers can get a better offer. It is about creating sanity in the freelancing industry.
Hiring a freelancer can have a lot of benefits and at the same time some risks. If you need to hire a freelancer online, you need to be very vigilant to avoid being taken advantage of. When you make your freelancer feel trusted, it means you’re telling him to do whatever he likes.
If you need further proof, contact me for copies of related documents – payment receipts, conversations with those freelancers, and their identifications.
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