March 25, 2009 by Guest Blogger

Nick Krym

I have been working with freelancers throughout my career and recently, thanks to services like oDesk, I find myself doing it more often.  So you might think that I am happy with what I get, at least in general.  Well, one of the reasons I continue to stay engaged is my high tolerance for pain – I am prepared to go through piles of hay to find that needle.  And I have to tell you, looking for freelancers is very much like digging for gold – you literally have to go through tons of dirt to find it.

Interestingly enough many freelancers who have skills, knowledge and maybe even talent often torpedo themselves, aggressively sabotage their chances of getting customers right in the begging of the process.  They make simple yet lethal mistakes that turn off clients before they got the chance to learn about freelancer’s ingenuity.  Below are some of those mistakes:

  • Not reading my post before you reply to it.  Your three page long template proposal will get you in a recycle been faster than anything else.  At least adjust your opening statement, show me that you read the post…
  • Not using proper grammar and spelling.  English is my second language and still work in progress; I still straggle with grammar myself, yet many responses I see push that envelope way too far.  Grammatically poor introduction screams in my face “Communicating with this freelancer will be a real pain!” Spelling mistakes are even worse – how can I entrust my project to someone who doesn’t even make an effort to turn on a spellchecker?
  • Talking with me like I am a teenager.  Your slang (especially when combined with ESL marvels) comes across as complete lack of intelligence and class.  By the way, spellchecker is not likely to recognize your “gonna”, “wanna”, “gimme”, take a hint.
  • Being excessively polite.  Your culture and language might require twenty minutes of praise and compliments before you get to business but I am an American, cut to the chase guy.  More so, being overly polite and using somewhat unusual forms will telegraph a wrong image, your mentioning my “ultimate wisdom” only makes me think of a snake oil salesman.
  • Not being punctual / prepared for your interview.  I think of proposal / interview stage as a “honeymoon” in a relationship with a freelancer, it all goes downhill from there.  Late for your Skype call? Having troubles finding your headset? Can’t introduce yourself? Chances are that’s the last time you’ll hear from me.

Don’t think I’m done here: I am only getting warmed up; it’s just my 500 word limit coming up.  I guess will continue in my blog.

Nick Krym is a technology professional with over 25 years in the IT industry, and the author of the Pragmatic Outsourcing blog.

  • SebastianYmanuela van Lengen

    Thank you for these comments. I absolutely agree with you. However, I would like to flip the coin here for a moment. Mainly I work on translation jobs on oDesk, and what really frustrates me is that a lot of clients do not care to use the interview process for what it should be. For example, I might give them a price offer, but that does not mean this is my final offer. Why do they not simply ask the freelancer, if he/she would do the job for a little less, if they did not like the price. Another thing is that so many are asking simply stupid questions. For example: xxx word translation. Question: Which part of this job will take the most of time? Or another one would be: Which part of the project are you most experienced in?
    -What? This does not make any sense. It takes how long good quality takes. If you go cheap, then, well, it is not going to end well. If you are willing to pay, then please go ahead and expect quality.