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Advice for Tech Freelancers When Projects Go Sideways

Community Manager
Lena E Community Manager Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
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From managing cash flow and planning your personal finances to finding insurance and looking after yourself, growing a business is easier when you have help. Upwork Business Resources makes it easy for you to find service providers and connect with them directly—with special deals for Upwork members. Eagerto is one of the program partners.


Sometimes, projects don’t go as planned—despite your best efforts. Even when challenges aren’t within your control, you can inadvertently leave yourself and your business exposed. How? The following hypothetical situation is a scenario developers and coders may encounter.




A year ago I quit my job as a full-time, front-end software developer to finally fulfill my dream of being my own boss. I now work as a freelancer and I finally feel in control of my own destiny: I choose what I work on, I decide my own hours, I can work wherever I please, and I have unlimited vacation days. I am a business of one—but when trouble strikes I have no one to go to for help.


Three months ago, a major online clothing company based in Spain contracted me to help with its website redesign. The designs were already drawn so my task was simple: Implement the new website design for the checkout page. As you can imagine, the checkout page was very important since this would be where customers pay, and thus, where the company made all of its money.


While I was working to bring the designs to life and paying particularly close attention to my work, other developers were also working to get the backend running smoothly…and I couldn’t account for what they were doing.


I was chugging along and the page was looking sleek. Before, the website was outdated and required a complete overhaul—new colors, new fonts, and a completely different layout. Now, I had rearranged pixels, there were new radio buttons, and the old heavy-looking links were transformed into a classy and subtle gray.


Then The Project Went Sideways


The very last thing I changed was the style of the checkout button. The HTML had an old, cumbersome—and to be frank—just bad naming convention, so when I changed the style of the button, I also changed its name in the HTML. I checked my work, placed a few orders with the new code, and everything worked. I saved and pushed my code. I was good to go, done with the project, and it was payday!


But the same day that my code went live, so did another developer’s whose new code for the database interacted with the checkout button. Unfortunately, he used the old class name—which no longer existed—so his code depended on code that was no longer there.


Everything broke, and for six terrifying hours, no one could place an order on the website.

The company lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there’s rumors I could have been held responsible. My contact says it’s unlikely, but if this were ever to happen again, I could never afford to pay them, or any client, that amount.


How Liability Insurance Can Help Protect You


Accidents happen and they’re unpredictable; you don’t always have control over every aspect of a project, and you can’t always predict what will happen. The good news is that you’re eligible for liability insurance.

Each insurance provider will have a variety of plans available with differing monthly premiums and coverage limits. However, all liability insurance plans protect against:


  • Mistakes in your professional services
  • Bodily injury arising from product design
  • Copyright infringement
  • Data privacy and security


Liability coverage will typically include an appointed attorney to defend you and cover the cost of any judgments or settlements. Most plans will also pay you $250 for every day that a claim pulls you away from your freelance work.


Where You Get It

Some providers will allow you to purchase a policy all online, while other providers may also include a phone call from a representative. This process helps determine what plan’s right for you based on how frequently you freelance and what type of work you do. After completing the process, your insurance kicks in.


How It Works When You Make a Mistake
If an accident happens, you’ll need to submit a claims form. Some providers allow you to access and submit an information form via your profile, while others may request that you email it directly. Once you’ve submitted a form, a representative will call you to discuss the situation. From there, you’ll be guided through the process of determining whether you need a lawyer or can settle out of court, and your liability insurance provider will pay what is owed up to your coverage limit.


While it’s certainly important to enjoy the perks that come with being your own boss, if the time ever comes where you need a little help, there are teams of professionals available to guide you.


To learn more about the insurance options available to you, contact Eagerto—or check out one of the other Upwork Business Resources partners.