Starting the process to hire a freelancer can be a daunting.
Sometimes it feels a little like the Wild West out there and you’re just riding along on your horse with no map and no roads and you’re trying not to get shot.
While there are a ton of sites where you can hire a freelancer, those sites are also filled with a mix of professional freelancers and those who are just willing to make a quick buck without providing quality work.
You need to be aware of the warning signs of unprofessional freelancers so you don’t end up wasting time or money when you’re asking, How do I hire a freelancer?
8 Warning Signs To NOT Hire A Freelancer for Your Project
Warning Sign #1: Lacks the professional basics.
If the person’s emails or interactions are filled with spelling or grammatical errors or they have a hard time communicating with you (for whatever reason), then it may be time to PASS and look elsewhere to hire a freelancer.
Warning Sign #2: Doesn’t have a professional email address.
Look, in this day and age it doesn’t take a lot of time or money for a freelancer to have their own professional email address.
Whenever I receive a professional business email/inquiry from an address like firstname.lastname@example.org, it raises an eyebrow for me (unless the person specifically points it out and apologizes for sending it from their personal account for . . . whatever reason).
If they can’t even be worried about a professional email address, then how serious are they about their freelance services?
It sounds like a nitpick-y thing, but trust me on this.
It’s a big indicator on how invested people are in their own business.
Warning Sign #3: No online presence.
You can’t get away with not having an online presence today, especially if you work for yourself.
(My mom is 75 and she has an online presence!)
So, if you go to hire a freelancer and you can’t find anything (or find very little about them) online, then it should raise some questions for you.
FYI: It’s not unusual for a freelance writer to have a huge presence on one social media platform (like Instagram), but not on another (like Twitter). Most freelancers will spend most of their time on one or two platforms where they have the most interaction with their audience.
Warning Sign #4: Doesn’t reply in a timely manner.
If you reach out and don’t hear back from a freelancer, you should make it a practice to reach out again after one or two days.
(Sp a m does happen sometimes, after all.)
However, if you get back responses like, “Oh sorry! I don’t check this email address very often!” then that’s a red flag (again) about how professional they are and how serious they take their freelance business.
Warning Sign #5: Doesn’t know the “lingo.”
Freelancers should probably understand some business basics.
If you say “scope of project” to a freelancer and their reply is “What’s a scope of project?” that should be a warning sign, too.
Warning Sign #6: Has no idea what they charge.
A professional freelancer will have a good idea of what they charge for projects.
A REALLY good idea.
However, it’s not unusual for freelancer to ask you your project budget before giving you a quote. This doesn’t mean they don’t know what they charge. It just means that they don’t want to waste your time (or their time) if your budget won’t cover their rate.
Warning Sign #7: No referrals, recommendations, client testimonials.
Seasoned freelancers will have referrals, recommendations, and even client testimonials, so it’s OK to ask for those.
Although some of my clients don’t want me to use their name or their company’s name because I work with them on ghostwriting or confidential and proprietary works, they almost always say I can use their first name and an business category.
(That’s why you’ll see some of my testimonials as “Jim from a large educational company.”)
If the freelancer is new and hasn’t yet compiled a list of testimonials, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire them. (Everyone has to start somewhere, after all.)
However, it does mean that you should proceed cautiously (and that you might also be able to get a discount on your project!). Just know that you might have to do a little more hand holding for new freelancers.
Warning Sign #8: No work samples.
A freelancer should be able to produce work samples (or have a website where you can view them).
It’s a great way to see if you like their work before you hire them!
If they don’t have work samples, it might mean to proceed cautiously.
They might be new or have produced work that their former clients don’t want shared.