Avoid Hiring Bad Freelancers

This post might seem a little self-serving, since I am, after all, a freelance copywriter. But hear me out, as it applies to all your freelancers, not just the writers.

I’m sure this has happened to you, so I thought we should talk about it a little more.

Don’t worry if you’ve worked with a freelancer that hasn’t worked out. There are plenty of us out here that are great to work with, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. There are always circumstances that lead to that discord, so let’s get rid of the “who’s at fault” guilt right now.

Take a deep breath…..and good. Now on to the rest of the article.

So you’ve decided that your freelancer isn’t right for your project

She’s asking a lot of questions, not incorporating your feedback, and taking a long time to produce the materials you agreed to. Even though your boss is breathing down your neck to get these materials ready for the next trade show, you’re tired of dealing with the freelancer and just wish you could punt her out the door.

Does this sound like a familiar situation to you? How can you avoid this in the future?

Hire a Good Writer

Sure, you’d like to hire a writer who has a lot of experience in the technology sector, but honestly, as long as they’re a good writer and have a good freelancers “toolkit”, you won’t have any problems. That’s because good writers know how to get what they need out of you, regardless if they’ve written about your topic or not. I’ll admit it IS a little easier if they’ve got experience with your topic, but it’s not 100% necessary. A good writer will:

  • ask questions up front
  • require all information that you have on the topic at the start
  • have a freelance contract for you
  • create a project time line for you, or at least work with you on yours if you’ve already got one

They’ll know how to do the research they need, what’s the best way to liaise with you and your staff of subject matter experts, and produce the materials you’ve asked for with a minimum of fuss.

Be Prepared

You’ve also got to be prepared for your freelancer right from the start. Don’t hire a writer until you know what you need produced, and for when. Be ready to send over any and all research materials you have, like URLs, brochures, product descriptions, sales sheets, contact information, etc. Make sure you confirm with your freelancer that she has all she needs to work.

Set Milestones

When you’ve got a lot of moving parts working in tandem for a project, it’s important to have an overall project time line. So make sure to include your freelancer in that time line. Ensure she’s aware of the milestones, and any meetings she may have to attend. If you need drafts by certain dates, tell her. Don’t expect her to know them, she’s not a telepath.

Talk it Out

If you’re having issues with your freelancer, be sure to talk it out with her. Like I said before, she’s not a telepath or mind reader. She’s not going to know that you’re unhappy with her work unless you tell her. Freelancers want to have repeat business, so it’s important to keep our clients happy.

If you haven’t heard from her in a while, send her a quick email or give her a phone call. Touch base and see what’s going on. If you’ve scheduled regular status meetings the lines of communication should already be open, but not all project needs status meetings, so you may be missing this regular contact. In that case, reach out yourself.

Sometimes we freelancers don’t want to bother you too much because we know you’re busy, and we’re taking off some of that load for you with our work. We realize it’s a delicate balance we have to tread with this one, but honestly, I’d rather you reach out to me and we have a quick 30-second conversation than not hearing from you at all.

Time to Cut the Cord

Sometimes it really just doesn’t work out with your freelancer. And that’s okay. No need to panic or get frustrated. Good freelancers know that sometimes it’s just not a good fit. Talk it out with your freelancer and your boss, and come to an equitable arrangement. Check to see if your freelancer has a kill or cancellation fee for her work (typically 10-15% of the total fee).

In this situation, I may be disappointed that the project didn’t work out, but I probably already sensed that things weren’t going well, and will be relieved that you realize this too. So just cut the cord, pay the kill fee, and we all can continue on our way.

Final Thought

As I am a software copywriting specialist, I recommend that you hire someone like me for your next software or technology marketing project to avoid any of these issues. If you want to know more about what a software copywriter is, check out this post I wrote, What is a Technical Copywriter? Connect with me today if you’re all set to go.