How to Make Sure You Don’t Get Ripped Off Hiring a Freelancer

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Not a week goes by that I don’t talk to someone about how they’ve been ripped off by a freelance copywriter or freelance designer. I’ve been a freelancer myself for several years, and while I always take a professional approach to handling my business, I’m very well aware that not all freelancers are on the up and up.

Fortunately, hiring a good freelancer isn’t all that difficult. You just have to take these steps to make sure you don’t get ripped off.


  • Avoid the job boards—I know that many of you are going to disagree with this, but I don’t think that the best way to find a freelancer is to post an ad on Craigslist, a freelance writing job board, or one of this websites where freelancers bid on jobs. Why? Let’s be honest—any freelancer who is truly skilled at his or her craft isn’t going to spend time trolling around on job boards. That freelancer’s services will be in demand. In other words, you need to find the freelancer. A simple Google search for the type of freelancer you need (e.g. “freelance copywriter” or “freelance web designer”) will get you pointed in the right direction.
  • Always ask for samples—Never hire a freelancer without seeing samples of their work first. It doesn’t matter what services you need, you must see a portfolio before hiring. This will prove that the freelancer is capable of handling the job, and it helps to make sure you hire someone whose style and approach meets your needs.
  • Be willing to pay a competitive rate—There’s something to be said for the old adage “you get what you pay for.” If you’re offering super cheap compensation, guess what type of freelancer you’re going to attract? A low quality one. You need to be willing to pay a competitive rate if you want to get the best talent.
  • Pick up the phone—Spend a few minutes talking to the freelancer on the phone. Tell them about your project, ask them about their experience, find out about their working process, and try to get a feel for whether or not the freelancer will be a good fit on your project.
  • Never pay the full amount up front—You should never pay in full for the project before it has been completed. In most situations, the freelancer will request a deposit before starting work, usually up to 50% of the total price. Paying a deposit is totally acceptable. Paying the full amount up front is not.
  • Get it in writing—Draft up a basic agreement that outlines the details of your project, the freelancer’s responsibilities, rates, deadlines, and other relevant information. Sign it, have the freelancer sign it, and keep it on file.


Have you ever been burned by a freelancer? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.

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