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My nightmare using freelancers.

 **Edited for Community Guidelines** , in June 13 months ago I hired a developer on Fiverr to make this website.

He failed.

I hired another. He failed. 

I hired another. He failed. 

I hired another. He failed. 

I hired another. He failed. 

I hired another. He failed. 

I hired another. He failed. 

It was now December and the site was now a wreck, with every developer blaming the other. None would take responsibility for their failure. They insisted they all had worked hard and wanted paid. 

Some of them did keep the money, some didn’t.


I can provide written proof of this from records on Fiverr


In December last year I destroyed the site and started afresh. I moved to Upwork and hired  **Edited for Community Guidelines**

She said she’d do the work in 16 days. 4 months later, after giving her more and more time, it still wasn’t finished. She didn’t have the skills. But she wouldn’t acknowledge that. As far as she was concerned she was well up to the task. 19 menus at this time needed fixing and she tried and tried and tried. And failed. I had paid her $1100. As she had clearly done considerable work in building the site, I invited her to keep $550 and refund the rest. 


This is all verifiable in Upwork messages. 


Every one of the above asked for glowing reviews, even though they failed. And I glowingly reviewed every last one of them. Including  **Edited for Community Guidelines** . I would have given them all awesome Oscar reviews just to get the site finished. But they failed.  **Edited for Community Guidelines** contracted to do the job in 9 days. 51 days later it still wasn’t finished. His job was to fix 19 menus. 51 days later 14 of them still weren’t fixed. He tried up to 8 times to fix menu number 1, and tried multiple times to fix others. He says he was given a tip of $150. He was never given a tip. He complained that he underestimated the work and asked me flat out for a bonus (it’s in the messages). So I gave him $100, by way of a tip because it meant easier paperwork for me. The remaining $50 was paid to him for an agreed site maintenance contract. A contract he broke. 

I am now on my 10th developer, and 13 months have passed of utter nightmare. 

However, I have learnt my lesson. I have hired now Upwork’s  **Edited for Community Guidelines** But I have not offered him a lump sum to do the job. So far I have paid him over $300, to fix work that  **Edited for Community Guidelines** and his predecessors failed to do. But I only pay him in increments of $40 at a time, now settled into $40 weekly. 


I think I’ve finally found someone who knows what he’s doing. His first job was to fix menu number 1.  **Edited for Community Guidelines** failed to fix it 8 times.  **Edited for Community Guidelines** fixed it first go. He has since fixed others. He has the required expertise. I intend to stick with him. 


I do not doubt that  **Edited for Community Guidelines** has good skills. I just know from experience of working with him that he does not have the skills to do this job. I wish he had, believe me. I wish the first developer I hired had had the necessary skills. Ask yourself,  **Edited for Community Guidelines** , if you yourself hired a developer would you put up with this circus? I doubt you would.


And please keep in mind,  **Edited for Community Guidelines** , that even today, 13 months later, this site still isn’t working properly. It isn’t launched. I can’t trigger Google Ads until  **Edited for Community Guidelines** figures out how to permanently reinstate the deleted files. He believes they were deleted by his predecessor by his auto-enabling all the Wordpress plugins, which, apparently, can result in this.


I’m seriously hoping he fixes it without too much additional work. 


I contacted Hostinger about an anonymous intruder going into my site’s admin and deleting files the very day - the very day - I parted company with  **Edited for Community Guidelines** and this is their reply:


 **Edited for Community Guidelines**


 **Edited for Community Guidelines**


This is the opening to the contract.

The contract is to fix menus as detailed in a list which has been delivered to the developer.


The fee to be paid by me is $300. In return the developer will fix all the menus that are detailed on the list.


The developer agrees to guarantee his work for two months. He broke this agreement. 


If the said menus need fixing within the 2 months, the developer will fix them.


The developer also agrees to test all 40 menus when he has fixed the menus on the said list.

The developer did not do this.


The fee will be paid in 2 milestones of $150 each. 


The first milestone will be released when the developer has fixed menus from 11 to 29, including 29. The developer was paid the first milestone before menus 11 to 29 were fixed. He asked for it to be paid before they were fixed. The second milestone will be paid when the job is completed. The developer was paid the second milestone before the job was completed. He asked for it to be paid before the job was completed. He was also paid an additional $100. He also asked for and was given an awesome 5-star review to help his profile. My mistake was that I should never have paid him a penny until the milestones were completed. 


I sincerely hope that if the developer is successful he will agree to maintain the website for me ongoing. The developer agreed to maintain the website for $50 per month, then backed out of the agreement. 


The developer will also receive 5 per cent of all gross earnings monthly. 


The developer was told not to undertake this work unless he was sure he had the expertise to do it. He said he had the expertise. He was invited to prove he had the expertise by fixing one menu. He said he didn’t need to prove it, he knew how to do it.

Retired Team Member
Retired Team Member

Hi Seamus, 


I'm sorry to hear about the bad experience you've had and the inconvenience this has caused you. I checked your account and I can see that you're already communicating with our team directly on your ticket. Feel free to follow up directly there with any additional questions and information you have. Thank you.

~ Goran
Community Member

But here's the thing...

I have been online.

I have personally experienced websites and mobile apps that work well. That I admire.


I know that they exist.


So logically speaking, there must be a way to create them.

And I know that clients regularly use Upwork to create successful websites and mobile apps. I have personally been a part of those efforts. I have personally observed both successful and unsuccessful efforts.


So if we consider possible causes of failure, which seems likely?
- Upwork does not work as a platform for hiring freelancers to create a website 

- an individual project owner does not understand how to use Upwork successfully to create a website 

Question: Is it possible for a client with little or no technical expertise to use Upwork to create a complex website?

Answer: Yes


Question: Is it possible to do this without hiring a competent project manager?


A: Maybe.

One must keep in mind that web development projects of sufficient complexity ALWAYS have a project manager.


The client hires an independent project manager.


But what if the client (project owner) does NOT hire an independent project manager? Then it is the client herself who is the project manager, because she knows how to perform the task of being a PM.


But what if she doesn't do so? What if she does not actually know how to be a PM?

Then the lead developer is, by default, the project manager.


But isn't it true that only about 20% of lead developers can successfully fill the role of bring their own project manager?

Yes, this is true.


Then... what happens if a client hires a lead developer who is not one of those 20%?


Then the project will fail.

Most projects commissioned by a client in which the responsibility of project manager falls to the lead developer... most of those projects fail.


So... the developers failed?
No. It is not the responsibility of the developers to ensure that an entire development project succeed.


What? That's insane. Whoe responsibility is it?

It is the project manager's responsibility to ensure that a development project succeed. That's basically the job description.


But what if there is no project manager?
How can it be the project manager's responsibility to make sure the project succeeds, if the client doesn't even hire a project manager?


Never mind, I think I just answered my own question.


I have hired 160+ freelancers, so I am not new to this.

But I have never experienced anything like this before.

The freelancers simply couldn't do the job, but because they'd spent weeks trying to do it they felt they should be paid anyway. 


I do not represent Upwork. I am an Upwork user (freelancer an client). What follows is my experienced opinion:


Here are some tips to follow, that will help you succeed:

- Decide now that you will never try to get money back from freelancers, no matter what. Decide that you will never file a dispute or ask for a refund. The REASON for making this decision is to save you time and money.


- If you have been primarily using fixed-price contracts, and failing in your development efforts while doing so, then stop. The ineffective use of fixed-price contracts is often a big cause of why development projects fail.


- Using hourly contracts is a great way to save money. You can set the "Maximum number of hours per week" setting to any integer value. You can leave it blank and allow unlimited hours. Don't do that unless you have experience with a freelancer suffiicent to trust them a lot. You can set the maximum number of hours to 1. If you hire 5 different freelancers and allow them to work for only one hour and then review the work that they did after that amount of time, you can learn a lot about their relative strengths. You may find 1 out of the 5 who is clearly the best value. One who clearly gets the most work done for the least amount of pay. This would be who you want to continue working with. You can fire everybody who doesn't impress you so much.


- With hourly contracts, you can view what freelancers are doing in near-real-time, using the screenshots displayed in the Work Diary. You can check mouse/keyboard levels. You can read memos. Some clients like to study the Work Diaries of freelancers. Others do NOT do this. Many clients focus only on the work actually submitted by the freelancers. John finished 8 tasks in an hour. Peter finished only 1 task. Each of these tasks is of comparable difficulty. John is clearly the more proficient freelancer and the better value. I don't necessarily need to study their Work Diaries to know that.


- When I client decides that she will never ask for refunds, and never try to get money back from freelancers, it frees her up to focus on successful ways of getting a project done. Refund thinking hurts clients. An effective client (or project manager) hires multiple freelancers simultaneously to work on the same project. Hire freelancers at different pay rates, different levels of experience, different backgrounds, different locations. Assign these freelancers specific modular tasks. End the contracts with all underperforming freelancers. Continue working only with the freelancers who provide you with the best value.


- Focus on your project. Not individual freelancers. The freelancers you hire are not your children or students or apprentices. You don't owe it to them to let them continue staying on your project. No individual freelancer should be considered "important". The project goals are what is important. So if a freelancer provides value to your project, then contine working with him. If a freelancer doesn't provide value, then end the contract. Don't spend time thinking about any particular freelancer who didn't work out. EXPECT that a good percentage of the freelancers you hire won't work out. Don't try to figure out what went wrong. Don't try to get money back from them. You realized that their work didn't measure up. You ended the contract. They don't matter any more.


- If your project is sufficiently large and complex, but it can't be worked on my multiple developers simultaneously, then you are doing it wrong. A structurally sound web development project uses a modular architecture that makes it possible for many different people to work on at once. If you don't have the technical understanding necessary to make that happen, then you need to hire a lead developer to craft the architecture of your system so that it is sufficiently modular.


- Never try to hire a freelancer to "complete your project." Hire freelancers who complete specific tasks. If you desire that the end project has 15 key features, you should never hire a freelancer to "implement 15 key features." Your project manager will assign tasks to freelancers. Freelancers will complete tasks. Each task can be submited, reviewed, understood by the project manager. Each feature or task can be demonstrated to the project owner, who can view it and test it. If you try to complete all 15 features at once, you will probably fail. If you try to compete Feature 1, and then Feature 2, and then Feature 3, you can succeed. You CAN have different freelancers working on different parts simultaneously, because your system architecture is sufficiently modular.


- Emphasize modularity. Content should be separate. Design should be separate. Backend database should be separate. API layer should be separate. You should have different people working on the different aspects of the system. The CSS-based graphic designer should only be focusing on design, not doing back-end development work, etc. Even if some freelancers "double up," it shoud be possible for different people to work on different layers of the system. It should be possible for different developers to work simultaneously on different tools, screens, functions, etc.


- If a client has struggled to get a development project finished, this means that the client does not yet possess sufficient project manager skill and knowledge. The client may yet acquire such knowledge and skill, but does not currently possess such. The client needs to either hold off on working on the development project until he has acquired sufficient project manager skill and knowledge, or the client needs to hire an independent project manager.


- Even if a client DOES KNOW how to perform the role of a project manager successfully, the client can still hire an independent project manager. In fact, many clients who have extensive knowledge of what a project manager does, decide to hire an independent project manager. Because they understand how crucial a project manager is, and they want their project to succeed. Many clients hire independent project managers specifically because they want to SPEND LESS on the project and they want to make sure the project gets done on time and on budget.


I think that the main causes of problems you have encountered are:

- not having an independent project manager

- using fixed-price contracts (you should be using hourly)

- refund thinking

- insufficient modularity

It is perfectly acceptable to use WordPress for projects that are appropriate for WordPress. Some projects are appropriate for WordPress. Some projects are not.


If you have been using WordPress and have hired many freelancers and your project is failing, then immediately stop using WordPress.


For one or both of these reasons:

- WordPress is not an appropriate framework for your project


- You do not know how to manage a WordPress project

The problem is not in Wordpress but probably in him not hiring developers, but "implementers"  the guys who solve everything by using bunch of plugins but lacks basic skills and don't know how to program. I cannot know this for sure since most of original post is censored but base my idea on keywords Fiver, $300 dolars for 40 menus whatever that represents.

I would love to look at that site, so if OP reply to my message I will post here overview of what went wrong here...

re: "The problem is not in Wordpress but probably in him not hiring developers, but 'implementers'..."


I agree.

But if the client has failed to produce the website he wants after hiring around 15 different freelancers, then - by definition - his approach is not working.


Like I said, that could be because WordPress is not the appropriate tool for his project. OR it could mean that he does not know how to manage a WordPress project.


Either way, he needs to change this approach.

Various changes he could make which could lead to success include:

- learning how to manage a WordPress project

- hiring a project manager who knows how to manage a WordPress project

- stop using WordPress


If the orignal poster STOPS USING WordPress entirely, and finds success using another framework, no framework, or a custom framework, then the final outcome is positive. Even if WordPress IS a viable framework for his particular project.


That would be an instance in which:
"There is nothing wrong with this tool. But this particular client can't use this tool effectively. So if the client can use another tool to achieve his goals, then that's what he should do."

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