What do I do if my freelancer isn’t right for me?

Sometimes when you hire a freelancer, all isn’t well in paradise. This can be for any number of reasons, but in this article we’ll discuss a few red flags and what you should do in each scenario.

They’re constantly missing deadlines

If you’ve set a deadline, you’ve probably set it for a reason. A particular piece of content – whether it’s a website, a logo or a mastered song – needs to be ready at a certain time. When it’s not, it can have a knock-on effect that throws off the rest of the project and means everything starts running late. If it happens again and again, that album you intended to release in August might have to be pushed back to October.

What should you do?

We’ve all missed deadlines and sometimes it’s unavoidable. The first time it happens, ask the freelancer what’s gone wrong – if they’ve been ill or had family problems, obviously you want to be sympathetic. But if it happens again and again and the reasons seem to be down to disorganisation, it might be time to pull the plug and find someone more reliable. Make it clear to any freelancers you hire that if they are going to be late, they should say. Silence as the deadline soars by is even more annoying.


Radio silence

If you’re approaching a critical milestone and can’t get so much as a WhatApp message off the freelancer, this is a potential red flag. Although you can’t expect to be in constant contact with a freelancer (if you want that, hire full-time staff), it’s reasonable to expect fairly prompt responses. You shouldn’t be waiting days or weeks for an answer to a simple query.

What should you do?

There’s a big difference between a freelancer who isn’t replying but is producing amazing work anyway, and one who isn’t replying because they’ve done nowhere enough work. The first thing to do is determine which of the two your freelancer is. If it’s the former and you’re really happy with the end result, it might be worth hiring them again and just making clear your expectations about communication upfront. But if it’s the latter – or they go AWOL altogether – this is a crystal clear sign not to work with them again. If you’ve paid a deposit, try and get it back. Next time you hire a freelancer, again make your expectations clear, highlighting any important review meetings upfront.

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Their work isn’t right

This could be for a number of reasons – here are a few.

  1. They oversold themselves – in their pitch, they claimed to be able to do more than they could. It turns out they don’t have the right equipment and are drawing up designs in Paint. Those beautifully shot portfolio images were actually sourced off Google images. In this case, there’s not much you can do. It’s not your job to bring a freelancer up to scratch, so cut your losses and find someone who does have the right skills.
  2. They’ve misunderstood the brief – the quality of the work is fine, but it doesn’t really fit the aims of the project brief. In this case, you can ask them to make revisions. It’s a good idea to outline the terms and conditions of revisions in the original contract. How many are you allowed? Will they charge extra? If freelancers are consistently not getting the brief though, the common denominator is you. Your briefs might simply not be clear enough and you’ll need to rethink the way you’re writing them, to save yourself and the freelancer time and money. Check out our article on getting the brief right first time.
  3. Their style isn’t right – it might turn out that a particular project just doesn’t suit a particular creative’s style, and this isn’t anyone’s fault. This will normally become apparent pretty early on. If they can’t make it the right way after a couple more drafts, part ways sooner rather than later.
  4. It’s sloppy – their work always looks rushed and there’s little attention to detail. Give them feedback and ask for them to take a bit more time over it next time. If the problem continues, you know not to hire them again.
The awkward moment when this happens with a graphic design project.
The awkward moment when this happens with a graphic design project.

They’re rude and unprofessional

If they’re just having a bad day, just let it drop. We all snap occasionally. But if they’re constantly being rude, challenge them on it. If their behaviour doesn’t change afterwards, know when to lay down the law and cut ties.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to know when it’s time to cut ties with a freelancer. But if they’re taking you on a grand tour through the factory where red flags are made, sometimes you have to be brutal. It’s not pleasant for anyone involved, but it’s better to get someone new onboard now rather than three months down the line. Three months of wasted work, money and time is no joke, but it’s very preventable if you’re willing to be firm.





Becca is the Marketing Executive at Twine. She loves literature, music, film and make-up. She spends a lot of time complaining about the mismatched angles of her winged eyeliner and stalking drag queens on Instagram. Otherwise, she’s helping Joe by writing blog posts and keeping Twine’s social media running.

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