Several weeks ago we invited our new neighbors to a weekend lunch. We had agreed on a date a week earlier. But after cooking up two of the four dishes and texting our guests two hours before the lunch, we found they would not be coming. The worst of it: If my mother-in-law hadn’t texted them, we would have had everything read for the lunch. But no guests.
This scenario is familiar in business as well. I have experienced clients who demand work and won’t pay, freelancers who want pay and don’t work. I have worked with people who can’t give clear goals or follow through with plans.
Now, there is a plethora of professional freelancers out there. But here are four warning signs to watch for:
1. Professional Freelancers Aren’t Wishy-Washy
Watch out for sequences of “maybe”s and double-checks. A professional freelancer should be able to give definite estimates and details in most situations. If someone sounds consistently uncertain watch out. This is especially true if they are definite about cost but not the work involved.
2. Professional Freelancers Communicate Regularly
If your freelancer drops off the face of the earth after first payment or assignment, you may have a problem. While each freelancer has his or her own contact schedule, it’s important they do keep you updated. Not keeping you updated on the project can also affect the results. It’s possible you may be paying for a sub-par product, if you get a product at all.
3. Professional Freelancers Have A Strategy
Most professional freelancers will have a plan to approach your project. If you need a social media manager, they may be able to pinpoint initial trends, relevant media outlets and engagement goals. And they should have a plan to get there.
Now, some plans will evolve over time.
That same social media manager may have initially tried Twitter for your brand, only to find low conversions. But perhaps Tumblr is a better platform for your audience. A new hashtag could boost your brand’s relevance. Your audience may start prefer images to text.
Plans can be changed. But it’s important that your freelancer be able to give you his or her road-map.
4. Professional Freelancers Have Something To Show
It isn’t uncommon for professional freelancers to ask for an advance on a project, or to have milestone payments. What is unusual is if freelancers ask for pay without delivering work. This includes unprofessional writers that give delayed work without giving a reason.
While most might be ready to part with a freelancer after being cheated, very many don’t. Some hope that they will get their money back once the writer finally delivers. But if the writer isn’t communicating with you regularly about delays or issues with the project, this is highly unlikely.
Again, there are many professional freelance writers out there (myself included). What is your experience working with a freelance writer?