Don’t pay peanuts

chip and dale cute panuts tap dancing

You can pay peanuts to these guys, because they’re so darn cute.

I get it.

Money gets tight, and if there’s one thing we all love, it’s getting the most bang for your buck (or whatever currency you happen to use). When it comes to paying rock-bottom prices for someone to do work for you, though, paying sub-minimum-wage prices for services is a no-win situation for both parties.

This week, we’ll look at how this affects the client. (You can check out how this affects freelancers here)

buyer beware caveat emptor or something like that. I can't spell.

I know it’s a jerky thing to say, but we all saw it coming.

1. You get what you pay for.

If you want a job done right, awarding a project to the lowest bidder isn’t always going to net you the best results. Maybe the freelancer isn’t qualified. Maybe their grasp of your instructions isn’t clear. Maybe they just do crappy work all around (Get references before you hire!). If someone’s offering to do work for dirt-cheap, be very cautious and take a good look at them before even considering giving them the job.

2. It messes with your expectations.

Just because you got a freelancer to write an article (or a series of articles) for a penny a word doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. Let’s say that writer quits or does a bad job for you, so you have to find a new one. With prices like that, what are the odds you’re going to be able to land a freelancer who can give you the results you’re looking for?

3. It damages your reputation.

Reviews from clients can make or break freelancers over a period of time. It can, however, go both ways. A number of sites I work through allow the freelancer to review their experience with their client. For every freelancer you look into, there’s at least one looking right back at you, looking for reviews both good and bad as well as your work habits and information about your professional life. Any freelancer worth their salt will kick their client’s metaphorical tires before signing on to a job (I made the mistake of not doing that once. I’ll get to that story in a few weeks.)

wait fix it kitten computer

How to Fix It

  • Treat your projects like food: Let’s say you have a 16-ounce Porterhouse steak. Awesome. You’re ready to go forward on this thing. However, if you’re sensible, you’re not (at least I hope you’re not) going to attempt to eat the entire thing in a single mouthful. It’s painful and nearly impossible to swallow.
    The same can be said about paying for a big project all at once: it’s going to hurt unless you break it down. Talk to your freelancer. Maybe negotiate a weekly rate or pay them at certain checkpoints throughout the project. That way, paying them what they’re worth isn’t going to cripple you financially. Speaking as a freelancer, I like to negotiate. Let’s wheel and deal!
  • Educate yourself: This goes back to point #3; it’s important to look at a freelancer’s body of work as well as their feedback before you hire. Do your research, my dear prospective clients!
  • Communicate, communicate: If there is a problem, if there’s something you like, whatever the case may be, talk to your freelancer throughout the project. Ask to see drafts of their work. Thank them for a job well done. Let them know as soon as you can when issues with the projects or payment or whatever come up. There’s little that’s more aggravating to me than when a client remains dead silent throughout the duration of the project. It makes me nervous for several reasons, and a stressed worker isn’t always a good worker.

Since I like to negotiate, I’ll make you all a deal. If you put forth your best effort to be a responsive, decisive client to me, I will do my utmost to make sure you get results worth every penny you pay.

I’m glad we had this talk, but I’m not done yet. Freelancers, you’re up next week!

Happy writing!

– Adam

Do you have tips for your prospects and clients on how they can better work with you or other freelancers? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.

Photo credits:





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One thought on “Don’t pay peanuts

  1. […] freelancers expect sub-minimum-wage payments for a particular job, they might be giving clients the wrong idea about freelancers; that because we work from home or don’t necessarily have ourselves fully […]


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