You have a fantastic idea to build something. And you found a fantastic developer or freelancer on Upwork, Toptal, or Reliable Bits and you are starting your project with that freelancer now. How do you ensure that you don’t get screwed over? Will you get your code? Will you get your product the way you imagine it? What if your freelancer goes AWOL / missing in the middle of the project (like it happened to the founder of Coffee meets Bagel)
While all these platforms will protect you in various degrees, you shouldn’t rely on them solely and it’s important that your freelancer doesn’t hold you prisoner or feeling helpless.
Here are some tangible tips and tools to make sure that you don’t end up on the short end of the stick.
1. Go through a development or design platform or agency
Don’t hire a freelancer directly, without some type of validation either from a platform or an agency itself. These provide a way of vetting your freelancer and also assume most of the risk of your dealings with your talent. If you do not personally know your freelancer, it’s best to use these platforms to mitigate risk till trust is built over time.
If using a platform don’t take the freelancer off the platform just to save a little bit of money. If the freelancer is willing to do that it should show that they are willing to screw you over since they are willing to screw the platform or agency, as I always like to say
don’t listen to people’s words, watch their actions.
Although they are a much more expensive route, agencies have a lot of proof of work through their portfolio and references. When evaluating agencies, remember if their website is buggy that should give you some indication of what to expect from their work on your project. However, agencies are less likely to screw you over because their reputation is everything so they will likely do everything to make you happy.
2. Use Tools to ensure best practices
Use tools like Github (it’s a version control system, and a code repository – it’s where the code of your app is stored and used), Braindump (here’s where you have your freelancer put all the assets, credentials, sensitive files, access items, and handoff documentation), Trello (project management, it’s what you use to keep track of all the things that need to be worked on).
It’s imperative to make sure you freelancer(s) use the tools like the ones I just mentioned above. All these are lightweight, have great brand recognition and will help protect your investment if used correctly.
You need to have access to your code, you need your documentation – so you can pass on to another dev or a tech cofounder, or if you bring on other developers in house, and you need to be able to track progress of your developer’s work.
If a freelancer is skeptical of any of the above it should raise great concern.
3. Hire teams vs solo freelancer
While platforms are great, whats even better is having a team, thats why I love platforms like Reliable Bits. On each project you get a mini team that comes with a designer and project manager. A lot of times freelancers get frustrated or pickup other jobs, and could just leave at any time. This would leave you high and dry without any code or tangible results. Working with a team reduces the flight-risk.
By using the three tips when working with a freelancer you should be protected and have a smooth development of your project. Good luck!
Feel free to ask us any further questions in the comments!