Freelancing is a viable way to decongest workloads on a tight budget, as well as to tap new talent and reap their creative potential. To this end, freelancers have helped secure opportunities for thousands of clients, especially those whose businesses operate on a smaller scale. Prominent freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr host a wealth of potential connections for freelancers and clients alike.
But one downside to the freelancing model is that it is also rife with people who don’t have the best intentions for you and your business. In the underbelly of these platforms, amongst hardworking professionals, lie a seedy bunch of scammers, phishers, plagiarists, and fraudsters. How will you be able to tell the difference, and save yourself the heartbreak (and the funds) from dealing with these? Here are our suggestions for avoiding common scammers lurking on these websites.
- Enter the market prepared for the worst. Knowledge is power—and this definitely applies to navigating through the digital marketplace. Don’t come into all your potential business relationships with the mindset that all of them are equal. The sad truth is, not all have the potential to yield the best results. There’s a lot of good reading material on the internet; use this article as a starting point on looking for reputable business partners and how some common freelance scams unfold.
- Be wary of easy deals. Another popular saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Some scammers charge peanuts for work and wait for clients to take the bait—only to have slipshod work to show for, or none at all. We know that low prices can attract clients without big money to spend, but we firmly suggest only contracting with professionals who know the value of their work—and can stand behind it.
- Avoid ‘professionals’ with no reputable personality.A real professional will be able to bring the following to the table: their identity, their specialty, their credentials, and an actual catalogue of the successful work they’ve accomplished. Steer clear of freelancers who have sparse information available on their profiles, boast one-star reviews (or worse, almost none at all), or are flagged for payment-related disputes.
- Find ways to weed out sloppy work. Even the greenest freelancers should be upfront about the kind of work that they do and the quality that they can promise. Most of the good ones already have samples on hand, such as previously written articles or watermarked digital images. Use these to assess their proficiency or to check for copyright infringement.
- Don’t stray from the platform where you’ve contracted the business. The website’s safeguards exist for a reason—to ensure safe and efficient transactions. And so,never agree to arrangements that are made outside the freelancing website, such as through the freelancer’s personal PayPal account or through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. You’ll be less disposed to hold a scammer accountable if they renege on the deal.
- Leave running if you feel you’ll be compromised. Make a quick dash for the exit if the freelancer requests sensitive information that you feel infringes upon your privacy. Firmly protect your personal address, your bank account details, and the like. In cases like these, it’s better safe than sorry.
- Explore opportunities outside of the freelancing model. If these warnings leave you feeling that freelancing is too much to handle, know that there are other alternatives to the freelancing model, such as outsourcing.
Many of the benefits that people seek out freelancers for in the first place can actually be done by outsourced agents. In the same way that freelancing websites act as conduits, there are also outsourcing experts who can connect you to some of the best and brightest in the industries of marketing, web design, or customer service. There’s no shortage of firms that will agree to fulfill your expectations at the best value.