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The Dangers of Hiring A Freelancer – and How To Avoid Being Scammed

Freelance graphic and web designers can be a very low-cost alternative to hiring an agency, since most graphic and web design companies usually charge very high rates. However, some of them may not handle the job very well. Of course, there are good freelancers out there; you just have to find out who they are and weed them out from the bad ones.

Here are common problems some clients experience with freelancers; and some tips on how to avoid these problems:

Some freelancers run away from an unfinished project with their money

You may have heard stories from people who experienced hiring a freelance graphic or web designer, only for them to be disappointed with an unfinished project while the freelancer ran away with their money, never to be seen again.

How to avoid:

  • Find out about their details and verify them – such as their full name, address, and phone number.
  • Always make sure to sign a well-written and well-defined contract. This should include details about the timeline, payment details, and the scope of the project.
  • Discuss the payment method. Unless you already trust the freelancer, avoid paying the project in full from the start. Freelancers should usually ask a 20% to 50% initial payment upon the start of the project, then either proceed to progressive billing, or pay the rest of the project upon the final project deliverable has been provided.
  • Use a safe  and secure payment method. There are numerous payment systems out there that offer a safe platform for clients to pay their freelancers, such as PayPal or Payoneer.

Some freelancers can’t fulfill a well-done job

Some freelancers, especially when the job gets too difficult, drag out the job, until their clients just give up on them.

How to avoid:

  • Define the project details from the start. Don’t surprise the freelancer with extra tasks that are outside what was initially discussed. For example, if you agreed on doing a simple website, don’t ask them to add say, an online store or a blog functionality to the website (unless you’re willing to redefine your contract).
  • Ask for the freelancer’s portfolio. This will enable you to make the appropriate estimation on if the freelancer can do the project you are requesting. Take note if the freelancer has something in their portfolio that is similar to what you require.

Some ‘freelancers’ aren’t really freelancers

The problem nowadays is that there is a trend wherein fresh graduates and young developers falsely market themselves as “freelancers”, and add it into their CV to add weight onto their credentials; but in reality, they have no experience outside of school projects and have little idea what they’re doing. You may end up with a website riddled with bugs, or one that is prone to hacking.

How to avoid:

  • Ask the right questions. Interview your freelancers thoroughly before hiring them to do the job that you require. Ask them how many years of experience they have, who they have worked for before, and if they have done something before that is similar to the job that you require.
  • Ask for their CV – find out when they graduated, if they have previously worked for a company with relevant experience, and if they are employed full-time or part-time, or if they are doing freelancing full-time.

Some freelancers are simply unequipped

Some freelancers don’t have the right equipment to build your website or do your graphic design. They don’t have the resources, such as their own laptops/computers, or internet connection, or the right software to do the job.

How to avoid:

  • Ask them how they will do the job for you. What type of computer do they have? Do they have internet connection at home, or do they use mobile internet? What software are they going to use?

Some freelancers can’t commit enough time for your project

Some freelancers have day jobs and have to squeeze your job over weekends or at night. Or, some of them have too much projects at hand, and can’t make time for yours.

How to avoid:

  • Ask politely if they can handle the job in time. A good freelancer should just be honest with you and provide you with a realistic deadline. Remember that one of the main advantages of hiring a freelancer is that they are considerably more affordable than passing the job onto an expensive agency.

About The Author

Christopher Celeste, who operates under the brand Celeste Graphics,  is a full-time freelance graphic and web designer, based in Manila. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, he is a finalist in the Best Web Designer of the Year category in JRU College of Computer Studies Recognition Day 2013, as well as a Showcase Web Designer (2013) and Web US Top Performer (2014) for Hibu Philippines.

He has years of experience in freelance graphic and web design, and has handled numerous projects for clients locally (in the Philippines) and internationally.

Check him out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. You may also check out his website.


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