Freelance Warning Signs: Red Flags for Buyers and Sellers


Freelance Warning Signs

Whether you are on the hunt for a quality freelancer to hire or marketing your own services, not all client-freelancer relationships are a match made in heaven. From simply having a poor experience to being outright scammed, a lot can go wrong.

But if you know the red flags to look out for, you can protect yourself from hiring the wrong person or taking on the wrong client. So here are some of the most common freelance warning signs that things might not turn out for the best.

Freelance Warning Signs for Buyers

When you are hiring a remote freelancer that you’ve never met in person or even talked to before, there is always a small risk in play. Particularly if you’re working with someone without a lot of social proof yet. As you narrow down your list of choices, beware of these indications that a particular seller might not be the best choice for you.

1. They Cannot Share Samples of Previous Work

It’s common for clients to want to view samples of a freelancer’s work. Especially if they’ve never worked together before, clients want to know that the person they are about to hire produces the type of work they are looking for. For creative work, like graphic design or copywriting, viewing samples is almost industry standard. Not all creatives have a style that will mesh with all clients, after all.

So be wary of freelancers who can’t share samples that are clearly their own. Even if most of their work for past clients is published without credit, any legitimate freelancer should have a portfolio that they can point to for samples.

2. They Ask For Payment In Full Up Front

Unless you’ve been working with a freelancer for a long time, the standard practice is to pay after work is completed and approved. Sometimes terms involve an initial deposit with full payment after the job is done. But this can be vary risky when hiring a remote worker that you have little connection to.

An easy way to avoid this is to hire your freelancers through a secure platform like Legiit, in which payment is held in escrow until both parties agree that the job is complete.

One scam to beware on freelance marketplaces is when a freelancer marks a job as complete without delivering the work promised. The scammer will string you along that the work is coming for several days. Just long enough for the funds to get dispersed to them, and then you never hear from them again.

3. They Are Too Needy

Odds are, if you are hiring a freelancer, you are trying to free up your own time to work on bigger things. Sometimes, though, a prospective hire has so many questions that you end up needing to micromanage them. While clarifying instructions is a good trait in a freelancer, there is point at which it becomes clear that the person doesn’t know what they are doing.

Along the same lines, watch out for freelancers who nag you about future work. If they seem desperate to be hired, it could be a sign that they have trouble keeping clients around.

Those are three of the most important freelance warning signs to look out for when hiring. If you are looking for even more advice on choosing the best person for the job, check out our complete guide on How to Hire Freelancers.

Freelance Warning Signs for Sellers

If you are selling your services, you might be tempted to take every client that comes your way. But that’s not always in your best interest. Some clients end up costing you more time than they are worth, and others are running a scam to get work for nothing. Keep an eye out for these common freelance warning signs that you should avoid a client at any cost.

1. They Haggle Prices

Watch out for clients who don’t accept your stated fees. Think of it this way: there are a near infinite number of freelancers they could hire. Odds are someone else out there is doing it cheaper than you. If your client wants to pay less, they can hire someone who charges less. Clients who don’t understand that you set your prices for a reason probably don’t understand the value of your time.

Likewise, be wary of clients who want to pay less for the first order, promising more work if they like what they get. Some might even ask you to do the first job for free! Even if this isn’t an outright scam (hint: it probably is), it’s not the way you start a long term professional relationship. If you give in this one time, the client is going to push boundaries down the road as well.

2. They Treat You Like an Employee

You’re a freelancer for a reason. You are your own boss, no one else’s. Watch out for clients who treat you as an employee rather than a service provider. Common red flags include demanding faster than advertised turnaround or an expectation that you will respond to their messages at any hour of the day.

Similarly, some clients have a tendency to micromanage rather than let you do the work in your own way. They’ll question your methods, provide unnecessary specifics, and even ask for daily check-ins. While some level of mid-project communication may be in order for certain jobs, you need to be wary of clients who won’t trust you to get the job done.

3. They Expect Too Much

Also known as “scope creep”, this nasty habit can form in clients who try to squeeze every last dime out of you. They add new details to the project after the order was placed. Yesterday you were just supposed to design a home page for them, but now they want a pop-up lead capture form too, for example. Adding on to a project isn’t always a bad thing, but if it’s going to take you more time or more resources, a client shouldn’t expect you to do it for free.

Likewise, some clients expect you to work miracles. If you create citations for local businesses, for example, beware of clients who expect you to rank them on page one of Google. If you write sales copy, watch out for people who will blame poor conversions on you without looking at factors like traffic sources or ad targeting. Whatever service you provide, the point is that you should only be expected to do the work that you are contracted for. Clients who expect more are to be avoided.

Make Your Next Client-Freelancer Relationship a Good One

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, keep an eye out for the freelance warning signs that things just aren’t meant to be. And do everything you can to protect yourself from online scammers who are looking to rob you of your time or money. Legiit offers a secure platform where buyers and sellers alike can work together with peace of mind.

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