If you really must hire a freelancer

Jo Watson


It’s always risky hiring a freelancer.

That root word, ‘free’. Ugh.

Free to make a complete cock-up of whatever project you set to them?

Free to play fast and loose with the boundaries of time and money?

Free to run off into the distance with your cash, your ideas, your wife?

It’s a worrying term for someone to attach to their so-called professional status, and so you should always be very careful when hiring a freelancer.

But, should you ever find yourself in the unenviable position of needing to do so, here are some top tips for making sure that the relationship between freeloader and freelancer is nice and solid.

Micromanage, micromanage, micromanage

Freelancers really miss the fact that they no longer have a ‘boss’ in their career of choice, and so anything you can do to keep them on a short leash and to monitor/question their every movement will be hugely reassuring for them.


Your freelancer will give you a price for their time, expertise and talent, but remember that this is just a jumping-off point to start negotiations.

Go for around 50% less than what they initially price your project at. It’s not as if they’ve got any overheads like expenses, insurance or professional tools to fund, so really, any costs for the work they do for you should be nominal.

Give tight deadlines

Freelancers have free time – it’s right there in the name!

Set tight deadlines and simply tell your proposed hire that you’ll go elsewhere if that deadline can’t be met. They’re not doing anything else other than waiting to work around your every whim, and it’s likely that whatever you’re tasking them with can be done in two minutes anyway, so go right ahead and put the pressure on.

Keep your hire a secret

Freelancers get the majority of their clients through a secret freelancer portal that helps showcase who they are and what they do, so providing a testimonial for your hire is a waste of everyone’s time.

You don’t have time for doing something so trivial as thanking and praising your outsourced help, and quite frankly, your freelancer doesn’t have time to take on any of the future prospects that a well-worded recommendation would bring to their door.

Pay them last

Seriously, freelancers are fine with this. They know that your big-name and corporate suppliers rely on cashflow much more heavily than they ever need to as a single entity. Plus, the rest of their clients will all pay on time anyway, so they’ll be fine.

Call them whenever

In case you haven’t quite made the link yet, it’s all in the name – free. Freelancers are available 24/7, and if you can’t get them within 30 seconds on email or over the phone, feel free to find them on their personal social media accounts, or just go right ahead and WhatsApp them.

They’ll appreciate being kept in the loop to such an extent whereby you call them in the middle of their child’s bedtime story to ask for an update.

Question their creativity

You could have done this job yourself, and you know that, but for whatever reason, you outsourced. A freelancer is simply carrying out a job for you – they’re not going to bring any kind of specific skill or talent to the table.

So, make sure you question every single decision along the way. The customer is always right, remember.

Take all the time you need

It’s a given that your freelancer won’t have bills to pay, a diary to fill, clients to manage, or other projects to work on.

Don’t rush in getting back to them with responses to questions, acknowledgements of work completed, or general communication to state that you’re still alive and actively engaging in a working partnership. They’re free! They have all the time in the world!

I’m really hoping that this helps should you take that most shaky of steps to hire a freelancer for your project or plan. Personally, I’d stay away altogether. “Free”. It all sounds awfully new-age…

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