We’ve all heard the old adage “you get what you pay for” — it and similar such quotes have been around way longer than anyone who is reading this article has been alive. In our business, we have certainly found this to be true, and we’d like to offer you my thoughts and ideas on this topic. There are a number of factors to consider when hiring freelancers, and as you work toward meeting your business goals.

Some food for thought…

We believe this statement is valuable enough to reflect on its true meaning, and how this can become a guiding principle for your business. John Ruskin (1819-1900) is quoted as saying, “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.”

hiring freelancers value

How does this apply to hiring freelancers for your business?

As the steward of your business finances, it is (of course), wise to take price into consideration as you look to hire freelancers for your projects. We recommend reviewing the “red flags” that you need to address when deciding whom to hire. We’ll also suggest some steps that we take in our own business to ensure that we have done our due diligence when hiring freelancers.

6 things to consider when hiring freelancers

Unless you are hiring a freelancer for extensive hours on a monthly basis, you need to consider that they won’t make enough money working for you to pay the bills. So, of course, they will have other clients — and depending on how much they charge, perhaps many of them. If their fees are too low, they may not be providing you with the level of expertise or service that you actually require.

We’ve found that cheap freelancers often (but not always, there are always those just starting out building a portfolio that offer quality for a minimal price) do the following:

  • They aren’t who they say they are. They offer fake resumes and references, but the work they submit does not reflect that level of expertise.
  • They waste your time with extensive questions and clarifications, but never seem to deliver on the work. They don’t know, or are unsure about, the work they’re doing.
  • They aren’t true subject-matter experts. Little details that are obvious to you (or worse, your customers), won’t be apparent to them — and it can actually hurt your business’ credibility.
  • They don’t create original documents. Plagiarism is actually alive and well, we’re sorry to say.
  • There’s a chance this is just their casual side gig, and they’ll treat it as such. Again, a full-time freelancer has the added pressure of bills to pay and nurturing happy clients…
  • Sometimes they simply disappear. What happens to work in progress, or to critical files such as artwork?

Due diligence matters

You can start by not making price the only factor in your decision. A good freelancer knows their value, and if you want them to work for you, you need to be willing to pay a fair price. So, check them out. Do a little research, look at their portfolio, and talk to some of their previous clients. Even better, use your contacts for strong recommendations. If possible, use a local person and arrange a face-to-face meeting.

Once you feel you have a good match, make sure your contract covers all the necessary points (a good, reputable freelancer will require one) to define the following:

  • Project scope and deliverables
  • Timeline, including milestones and deadlines
  • Payment process
  • Terms and conditions

It’s well worth your time, and your money, to hire good talent.

Even the “Oracle of Omaha”, well-known for his excellent business acumen states: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” That’s good advice from Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world.