There are countless stories about the turbulent relationship between employers and freelancers. A freelancer has been paid in advance and stopped responding to messages. A client isn’t willing to pay – how are you supposed to get the money you’ve earned? A freelancer hasn’t completed the project, took the money and disappeared. Just google similar situations, and you’ll see how pressing the issue is.
There can be countless reasons for such disputes. But if you don’t take into account completely fraud schemes, the root of all evil is the lack of understanding between the parties and incorrect organization of workflow.
So how should you create a perfect interaction pattern between a client and a freelancer? An interaction where nobody feels used and deceived? What leverage can both parties have in case something goes wrong?
The author of this article knows what it’s like to be a freelancer and at the same time what it’s like to create projects and search for freelancers to complete them. I know this field inside and out, and in this article I’ll gladly share my knowledge with you!
How to sign the freelance contract the right way?
First and foremost, you should sign the freelance contract with the remote worker you’ve chosen. You have to understand that it will be hard to get your money back without the contract if worse comes to worst and you encounter a dishonest freelancer.
You should specify deadline and penalties that will be imposed on the contractor in case they don’t fulfill their obligations.
Chances are, if the freelancer refuses to sign the contract, something’s wrong and you should probably search for somebody else.
There are several good articles in the Web that you should read before creating or signing the freelance contract. I recommend this one by Paul Maplesden
How to pay freelancers the right way?
Payment methods for freelancers
Another thing you should know while working with freelancers is the correct way to pay them. Let’s figure out which payment method is the most suitable for you.
The first method I’ll describe is the easiest one. The freelancer completes the project – the client checks it and pays the sum that has been discussed in advance. It sounds fairly simple, but you should remember one detail.
If you don’t have established reputation as a client and, for example, you have zero projects on the freelance website, then it’ll be hard to find somebody who’s ready to take the risk and sign up for your project. There is always a possibility true professionals will scroll by your project without replying to it.
I’ll be honest – you should probably choose this payment method only if the freelancer and you have been working together for quite some time and have gained each other’s trust. If that’s not the case, it’s better to pay upfront, at least partially. By the way, many freelance websites don’t even have the option I’ve just described.
Pros: You pay after the project is completed, so you are insured.
Cons: Not many freelancers will agree to this payment method.
This method is dangerous for the client. You can find dozens stories online about freelancers who got paid in advance and just disappeared. Even if you signed the freelance contract and transferred the sum to the, let’s say, escrow account, there is still no 100% guarantee the freelancer will finish the project on time or complete it in general. I’ve been in similar situations. Lawsuits against freelancers are a whole different story that doesn’t come to a good end that often.
You should also consider the fact that you’ll have no leverage if the freelancer messes up and the project doesn’t comply with the statement of work.
Pros: It benefits solely the freelancer.
Cons: No bargaining chips if something goes wrong.
Partial upfront payment
This payment method can be a good option. You pay 50% upfront and the other 50% after you approve the project. Thus, a method like this reduces the risks of both parties.
If 50% seems like too much money to pay upfront, you should choose one of the methods I’ll write about below.
Pros: Risks of being cheated are cut in half.
Cons: Isn’t a 100% guarantee that you won’t be scammed.
This is the method of interacting with freelancers using some sort of mediator like certain freelance websites. I should mention that most freelance websites use some variation of this method. They have both client and freelancer fees that they take for assuring the transaction is safe. The mediator stores the client’s money before the transaction and transfers it to the freelancer once the project is complete.
The mediator also settles disputes, which means they check that the completed project is in line with the statement of work. If everything is okay, the money is transferred to the account of the freelancer. If something’s wrong, the money is fully or partially returned to the client or the project is sent back to the freelancer for further development.
Of course, the conclusion the mediator comes to can be subjective, however such method is the safest way not to lose money and not to pay for botched work.
Pros: Guarantees for all participants of the transaction.
Cons: The percent of the transaction goes to the mediator; the "jury" can be subjective.
If you found the freelancer on a freelance website, then the website itself can be the mediator. But what should you do if you found the freelancer, for example, in the professional community on Facebook? That’s when third parties come into play.
Third-party payment is almost the same as the secure transaction I’ve described above, the only difference is that the mediator isn’t official (let’s say, freelance website), but a certain hireling, a third party that the Internet is full of. The third party accepts upfront payment for the project and transfers the sum to the freelancer if the end result meets the requirements stated in the statement of work.
You should choose the mediator that already has reviews and make sure they aren’t fake.
Pros: Quite safe for both parties.
Cons: Third-party fees and its subjectivity.
What to do if you’ve been scammed?
What should you do if the freelancer got paid in advance and disappeared? Or if they sent you the project that’s poorly done and completely stopped responding? In other words, what should be done if you’ve been screwed over?
Of course, you should protect yourself from a possible freelancer scam in advance. First, always sign the freelance contract. That contract should specify all details of the transaction and possible penalties. When you choose the mediator, always read their reviews from previous projects. If the mediator has no reviews or has negative feedback, you should choose payment method that will protect you or not cooperate with them at all.
If you’ve already been scammed by a freelancer, you should do the following.
If you didn’t sign the contract with the freelancer, then you should accept the situation, learn a lesson from it and be more careful in the future. Of course, you could try and appeal to the conscience of the freelancer by pressuring him through the admins of the freelance website. But you have to understand that your chances of success are slim to none.
The thing you definitely shouldn’t do is having a tantrum on social media. It makes you look bitter and unprofessional.
If the contract does exist – first, initiate the pre-trial procedure that involves sending registered mail that states that all legal costs will also be paid by the defendant. If the neglectful freelancer doesn’t react even to that, go straight to court.
What should you pay for?
One more question a novice customer may have is the correct way to evaluate and count the final cost of the project. Let's go through some methods.
Payment based on results
A payment like this implies a certain service that doesn’t depend on circumstances. For example, it could be designing a business card, creating Google Analytics for a website, developing landing page with standard features, creating a simple PHP Telegram bot, etc.
This type of payment means that the freelancer understands precisely what needs to be done in order to complete the project. Taking that and the invisible hand of the market into account, the freelancer names the price.
It’s the easiest way to estimate the cost of services, but it probably won’t be suitable for long-term projects.
Cons: Won’t be suitable for long-term projects.
Payment based on the amount of work
This type of payment is a bit more complicated. Let's see the examples when it could be used.
You pay based on the amount of work the freelancer has done for projects like copywriting (the amount of characters), designing banners (the quantity of banners), configuring ad campaigns (the number of campaigns).
Unlike the previous method, when the client uses this method, they understand what exactly they’re paying for, though the freelancer has no apparent incentive to do their job perfectly.
Pros: The client has a clear understanding what they’re paying for.
Cons: The freelancer has no incentive to create high-quality content.
This method is self-explanatory. Freelancer determines how much their hour of work time is worth, and client pays for every hour the freelancer has spent working on their project.
Such type of payment will be suitable for long-term projects. Hourly pay is usually used for compensating the work of programmers, web designers and support service specialists. It could also be used for paying representatives of other professions.
The advantage of this payment method is its versatility; the disadvantage is that the freelancer could be tempted to add extra hours that they supposedly spent working.
Cons: Temptation to overcharge the client.
Hourly rate that takes into account working hours
This method is considered the most progressive one. It’s used by the number of our clients – users of Kickidler time tracking system.
The idea is that the freelancer installs on their personal computer a special program that counts the hours they spent at the computer. This program analyzes the gathered information and shows the employer how productively the employee has worked during the hours they’re being paid for.
This method denies freelancer the option to exaggerate the amount of time they’ve spent on a certain project. It will be hard for the freelancers to fake hard work, seeing how some programs – including Kickidler – allow the employer to Employee Desktop Live Viewer and know exactly what they’re doing at any given moment.
Our program also has the function of Screen Video Recording and viewing the employees’ history of actions at the computer.
You think it sounds like paranoia? Not really. This function could be useful for the freelancer as well, if they are nothing but honest workers, of course. Using the program like this, the freelancers wouldn’t need to explain or justify themselves, proving that they were hard at work. The program will speak for them.
By the way, our recent update made it possible for the employer to monitor only the work account of the employee on their personal computer. That way both parties can be sure there’s no invasion of privacy.
I’ve seen project ads that mention our program more and more on different freelance websites, which, I’ll be honest, is a good thing.
Pros: Full transparency. Employer knows exactly what they’re paying for.
Cons: Quite complex to implement technically
Where can you find freelancers?
There are a number of freelance websites where you can find qualified specialists. I’d like to mention sites like freelancer.com, flexjobs.com, solidgigs.com, fiverr.com and so on.
You can also look for freelancers in professional communities or by asking your colleagues to recommend responsible contractors. If you need an expert in a rare field, you can try your luck on professional forums, for example, you can find Modx specialists in the community dedicated to the platform.
Hope you’ll find this article helpful for you and your business!
Kickidler Employee Monitoring Software
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