When Should You Fire a Freelancer

So, you went through the trouble of hiring a freelancer online and it seems things are not working well for you. If you have not fired anyone before firing a freelancer may seem daunting but it is much easier to do so than firing someone face to face.

However before you give up on your freelancer make sure it is the right time to fire him. Let’s talk about a few things here:

Skills

Maybe the person you hired is not skilled enough or maybe is skilled in something that you do not need currently. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why did I hire him?
  • Did he live up to the expectations when I had first hired him?
  • Is he reliable?
  • How many times he has made a mistake and how often?
  • Is he growing with you?
  • Is he helping you grow your business and make money?


The last question may be the first thing that comes to your mind but the others are equally important if not more. Here are a few Case Studies which can help you make the correct decision.

Case Study 1

You may want to just change direction in the short term and his area of expertise may not be relevant in the short term however you may want to rehire him in the future.

Solution: In cases like this it is better that you pause that person’s contract rather than end your contract with him. You should also set expectations beforehand as a freelancer will probably find work elsewhere if his contract get’s paused. Tell him that you will give him work in around 3 months time (give him a time frame). If he is willing to work with you after 3 months, you will have an easier time transitioning to whatever you were doing before you changed direction.

Case Study 2

You are changing your entire business model or you are starting a new business and closing the old one.

Solution: If the person you hired is not relevant to your new business, tell him clearly what you expect of the next person you hire. This will do 2 things:

  • It will definitely help him grow and he may even refer a co-worker to you.
  • You may be surprised that the content writer you were about to fire is pretty good at Social Media Marketing as well.

It is not uncommon that people are good at more than one type of work. If you are satisfied with your freelancer’s work ethic and he can do what you want him to, why would you want to find someone else who you will have to retrain and get to know.


Also, chances are that if he is good; the person he refers will be good as well; because no one wants to damage their reputation by referring incompetent people (although it still happens).

Case Study 3

The person you hired has been incompetent from Day 1 but you don’t want to fire him or feel bad about him.

Solution: This is more common than you think. This happens to almost everyone I know. They choose a wrong person and maybe it was the first person they chose and they don’t want to let him go for sentimental reasons. I can sum it up for you real quick, “Let him Go”

The person you chose needs to help you grow your business, if that is not happening for an extended period of time or even worse, things are going downhill; you better get rid of him fast but tell him why he was fired. Everyone deserves to know that as it helps them grow and so that they don’t have bitter feelings towards you. A smart freelancer will be able to see his own mistakes and admit them. If you are dealing with someone who says that your instructions were not correct when he messed up, they do not need any further explanation; they don’t want to grow.

Case Study 4

The person you hired resembles a machine more than a human being. He is very good at executing things but cannot make the slightest adjustments required.

Solution: This is tricky. It generally happens when you hire someone for Data Entry type jobs; you hire a robot. The thing is, business processes change, technologies change, so if your freelancer cannot cope up with these changes you may have to let him go. However if your immediate need is more mindless work, it is better that you hire someone like this as someone who is smart will get bored very very soon and will probably leave or ask for any other kind of work.

Also, freelancers like these are generally cheap, so if you don’t need anyone for data entry type jobs at the moment, you can pause or end the contract and hire someone again if the need arises.

Case Study 5

The person you hired is great but is somehow not stepping up or is slacking.

Solution: Speaking from personal experience, this has happened to me. This happens if the freelancer you hired gets bored or feels unappreciated. If you are constantly finding faults in his work but you are never highlighting his strengths, he may feel demotivated. There may be other reasons as well, like he may be going through a personal crisis or maybe he has taken up additional work.

So, if this happens to you, get on a call with your freelancer and tell him honestly what is bothering you. If he respects and values you, he will tell you what is bothering him. Maybe you can give him a raise or may be give him some other type of work or maybe he wants to move on. Whatever happens, that call will help you take a decision.

Work Ethic and Communication

The person you hired may have terrible work ethic. He may not show up on time for calls with you. He never follows your instructions. He takes forever to respond, etc.

From my experience what I have noticed is, finding a person who has a similar with ethic as you is harder than finding people with the same skill set. You may have hired someone, who responds to you whenever he needs to get paid.

If you find yourself in a situation like this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is he worth my time?
  • Can I get someone better at this rate?
  • Can he get things done?

If the answer to all of your questions are no, then you should let him go. You can always find someone else at a specific rate. Even though their experience and skills might vary, it is easier to train someone on skills than work ethic.

Pay Rate

May be you hired someone for whom you feel you are paying too much. This happens if you don’t know the market rates well.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I renegotiate the pay rate?
  • Can I find someone else at this rate?
  • Do I need him anymore?

If he is not ready to renegotiate the pay rate and you can find someone else at that rate, before you fire him, make sure you find someone new and train him, so that you have no downtime while he works.

If he is nice, you can give him a bonus for training the new person as well. Once you are comfortable with the new person, you can let him go.

Relationship

Business is about building relationships so building a relationship with a good freelancer is as important as building a relationship with a client. If you decide to end the contract but you had a great relationship with your freelancer, see if you can pause it instead. It is easier to resume a contract rather than re-hiring.

Also, if you decide to end a contract instead of pausing, the next time you hire him (if you decide to), your freelancer will have to pay more for the new contract (applies to Upwork and a couple of other freelancing sites).

Ending the relationship on a good note is amazing. He may help you hire new people in the future and can refer someone and you can refer your friends to him. It is a win win situation for both.

I still have clients I talk to for whom I have not worked in years. They generally come back to me again and again for advise or even ask me for help.

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