Good Freelancer / Bad Freelancer

Over 15 years ago, Ben Horowitz wrote an article Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager to help product managers in the tech industry. He raised important points that are still relevant for any manager. It strongly relates to freelancers as they have to manage a product or project, but many do not realize this is an important part of the job.

At Twine, I’ve worked with thousands of fantastic freelancers who have done great work for their clients. Unfortunately, there are always some bad freelancers that let the industry down. I wrote this as a guide to help freelancers and to help clients know what to look for when hiring a freelancer.

Good freelancers clearly understand the project and the deliverables. A good freelancer has defined the scope at the beginning and made the project timescales crystal. A good freelancer takes full responsibility and measures themselves on the success of delivering what the client wanted. They are responsible for delivering on time. A good freelancer understands the context of what is happening for the client (stakeholders, key decision makers, etc.) and takes responsibility for devising and executing a winning project.

Bad freelancers have lots of excuses. Scope creep, the client doesn’t know what they want, the client wasn’t clear enough at the start, the client hasn’t communicated enough, I don’t have enough time, the dog ate my code. Elon Musk doesn’t make these kinds of excuses and neither should a freelancer.

Don’t let projects get out of hand!

Good freelancers don’t lose track of time on one specific problem, but understand the most important parts of a project that have to be delivered. They don’t have issues with scope creep because they’ve been clear with the client, and communicated what costs would be associated if the project changes. Good freelancers understand that the scope may change and aren’t frustrated by this. They understand that as a client sees a project unfold, other ideas may come to them. Bad freelancers say “yes” to every part of a project, even when they don’t have the expertise to do it. Bad freelancers don’t communicate price changes until the end of a project.

Good freelancers use the best tools for the job. Good freelancers think more about delivering value to the client rather than how much they can get out of them. They understand that bad freelancers overcomplicate the project by using the newest tools because they think it looks good. Bad freelancers use the opportunity of work on a project to try out a new tool for the first time.

Good freelancers aren’t mugs!

Good freelancers are in regular communication with the client, creating status reports to ensure all stakeholders are looped in. Good freelancers notify the client of any issue ahead of time and in writing. Bad freelancers voice their opinion verbally and lament that the “powers that be” won’t take their approach. Once bad freelancers fail, they point out that they predicted they would fail because the client didn’t follow their advice.

Good freelancers do not use jargon to confuse a client. Good freelancers err on the side of clarity vs. explaining the obvious. Bad freelancers never explain the obvious.

Good freelancers understand the importance of the relationship. Bad freelancers think there are plenty more clients out there.

Thanks to Ben Horowitz for the original article.

Published with StoryChief

Stuart Logan

Stuart Logan

The CEO of Twine. Follow him on Twine and on Twitter @stuartlogan – As the Big Boss, Stuart spends his days in a large leather armchair, staring out over the Manchester skyline while smoking a cigar and plotting world domination. (He doesn’t really). Originally from Salisbury, UK, he studied computer science at Manchester University but was always keen to break into the exciting world of start-ups, and was involved in a number of ventures before finalising his plans for Twine. When not wearing his chief executive hat (metaphorically speaking) he enjoys harbouring unrealistic expectations for Manchester United’s future success and live music.