Freelance Project Management: Main Red Flags to Watch for

Project Red Flags to Be Mindful of: When Things Are Too Good to Be True

Freelance project management is an all-encompassing process. You need to identify the right opportunities, pitch, and manage communication with clients effectively. When approached with an opportunity, you should also be capable of identifying red flags.

Sometimes, the offers that come your way will seem too good to be true. For most of those, however, you’ll eventually discover a red flag or two that are indicative of a problem or maybe even a scam.

Very often, you’ll feel tempted to say yes to the offers that appear absolutely amazing. Before rushing into such chances, however, take some time to evaluate and reflect. Here are the signals that could suggest a problem.

Promises of Future Benefits

Have you ever come across a project that pays very little right now but offers the “potential” for growth and monetization in the future?

Don’t fall for this kind of scam.

Learn to value your work. Completing complex tasks for little pay right now doesn’t mean you’ll receive adequate compensation in the future. On the contrary. If the partnership with that client continues, you’ll be asked to continue doing the work for the same low amount.

Be mindful of clients who ask for discounts or work for free. Free execution should never be a part of your freelance project management. Even if the client has never partnered with you before, they can request a small sample task to assess your skills.

You will also be contacted by startups, non-profit organizations, and other entities that supposedly have limited financial resources. Do yourself a favor and avoid such offerings. If you want to volunteer and do work for free, choose a charity or a nonprofit organization that you know and value. Choosing such partners will make you feel good and you’ll also have something meaningful to add to your portfolio.

Easy and Quick Project

Seeing the words “easy” and “quick” in a job description should make you run.

Easy and quick are a code for little payment.

Many clients use this approach to dismiss the amount of work a freelancer will actually have to do to get the job done. They’ll label the project as minimal in an attempt to spend very little on it.

Reasoning with such prospective clients is also not an easy task. So, instead of wasting your time, seek alternative opportunities. Even if you are chosen for a project like this one, the amount you’ll earn in the end of the day wouldn’t justify the effort.

Fixing Somebody Else’s Work

Freelance project management is heavily dependent on reading the red flags correctly. Here is another one that always lets you know a client isn’t particularly trustworthy.

Avoid projects that will have you adapting or reworking deliverables created by someone else.

Knowing that another freelancer already worked on the project and the client remained unhappy is never a good thing. Chances are that they’ll also be dissatisfied with the work that you do and they’ll potentially refuse payment.

Also, reworking someone else’s deliverable often tends to be a lot more time-consuming than doing the thing from scratch. Every freelancer has their style and set of skills. Chances are that the work you do isn’t necessarily compatible with someone else’s.

If you think that reworking an existing deliverable will be quick and easy, think again. There may be some exceptions to the rule but most projects that have such parameters tend to be tedious and difficult to complete.

The Requirement-Free Project

Working with clients who don’t know what they want is one of the biggest nightmares a freelancer will face in their career.

You may think that having no parameters is a good thing that will give you creative freedom. Think again.

Very often, clients don’t know what they want but once they receive a deliverable, they suddenly realize it’s not what they’re looking for. Such interactions will often involve a lot of back and forth, a ton of editing, and poor outcomes for everyone involved.

Taking on such a project is a possibility if the client appears to be responsive and nice. To make the process quick and smooth, however, you should clear all essentials upfront. Ask follow-up questions and come up with a project scope together. Make sure the client has a realistic expectation as far as deliverables are concerned. If you can’t come up with project parameters together, you should probably abandon the opportunity for good.

Pay a Small Fee and Access an Amazing Opportunity

Let’s make this clear – you should never ever have to pay in order to land a freelance gig.

Such scams have been appearing more frequently than ever before on freelancing platforms.

You’ll be contacted by someone who’s ready to hire you immediately. Eventually, you’ll be asked to take the communication off the platform (a major red flag!).

Once you start communicating through an alternative channel, you’ll find out that you’ll have to pay a small processing fee or a single charge in order to access a wealth of projects that will pay tremendously well in the months to come.

It’s an obvious scam but people who are desperate to find work will fall for it.

The scam can be especially convincing if the sum being asked is a tiny one. You wouldn’t think twice about spending five or 10 dollars on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The consequences of such a mistake, however, can be much more devastating.

Phishing and identity theft can occur if you’re not careful. So, don’t think about short-term gains. Protect your online identity and keep communication within reputable, well-established channels.

When Freelance Project Management Becomes Tricky: Suspiciously High Pay

While some clients attempt to pay little with promises of better payment in the future, others will be offering unrealistically high rates right off the bat.

Suspiciously high pay rates are almost always a sign of a scam.

This is especially true when it comes to certain offers. The country that the client operates in is an important factor. It’s also vital to find the entity’s name and figure out if it’s legit.

Some of these offers aim to attract a big number of applications, collecting personal data from the interested freelancers.

In other instances, the offer will be in place to get reputable freelancers interested. Once they’ve applied, these professionals will find out that the job pays a lot less than what’s been promised.

Avoid such projects to save time and reduce the risk of disappointment. Do some rate research as a part of your freelance project management. Knowing what the average hourly fee or fixed rate is will help you assess offers accurately.

Honorable Mention: Great ”Exposure” Jobs

If you’ve never come across one of these, you’re lucky!

Some clients have started thinking that paying freelancers isn’t necessary.

Instead, they offer great “exposure.” In other words, your work will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people who could eventually become clients. This is the mentality that influencer culture has instilled in many, making them believe they have an incredibly valuable opportunity to offer in exchange for work done.

Great exposure is a code for low pay. Don’t fall for it.

You can work on your own exposure through a personal website or your social media presence.

Great exposure should be a bonus on top of getting paid and not the way you’ll be compensated for specialized task execution. Also, most of these promises aren’t even realistic or achievable. Some clients overestimate their reputation while others will simply be trying to manipulate you.

Trust Your Intuition and Be a Critical Thinker

Freelance project management can be very tricky. You’ll need to balance lots of things. Most importantly, you’ll have to identify and score the best opportunities.

Job offers that seem great can be difficult to turn down. We all want to make money quickly and effortlessly. The bad news is that such promises can have devastating consequences. You risk losing money and you could even become the victim of cybercrime.

Time and experience will help you sharpen your analytical and communication skills. Right now, you should trust your intuition when evaluating projects. The red flags are easy to spot, even if you are a newbie. Just don’t let wishful thinking do the work instead of you.

If you really like a certain opportunity and you want to pursue it, ask follow-up questions and have the client sign a well-balanced contract. They should also be ready to make an advance payment or they should keep the project within the realm of a freelance platform.

Having these guarantees in place increases the likelihood of finding a project that has the potential to result in something great.

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