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Situation with a freelancer - Need advice

Active Member
Kenz S Member Since: May 14, 2019
1 of 7

I want to be fair about a situation so I'm asking in case we did something wrong.

We hired an artist for a job we posted on Upwork. In the job, we detailed all the milestones and fixed prices. We also explained the styles we're going for, gave examples of other assets in the game, etc. That was not just in the offer but in the job posting itself.

 

The artist reached out, we liked his previous work and decided to hire him. Before we did, we chatted with him a bit, explaining everything again. Provided another word document with everything we needed, etc. He accepted and the contract was signed.

 

Now, he provided some sketches and color palettes which we liked, but we didn't know the details that would actually go into the actual final item. They looked like concept art to us.

About a couple days before the deadline we gave him for the first milestone (was gonna be used for a trailer for the work), he delivered a 'final version'. That version was one picture. No game assets, nothing. The image matched the earlier sketches but everyone on the team (including other artists from Upwork) agreed that they looked like concept art not an actual fit for the product.

 

We try to schedule time with him to talk about it in case our previous descriptions were not good enough. He disappeared for two weeks. During those two weeks, we ended up delaying the trailer but he doesn't even know that. So, to him, he didn't even meet the trailer release date.

 

He then showed up asking for money for the work he delivered already which was not even delivered. We can barely use what he delivered as concept art.

 

During the time he was working, he also kept eluding to needing more money to be more motivated. Despite us detailing everything from the beginning. And despite us explaining in the job description to everyone that we're super indie. Everyone else is working for free/ out of pocket except for him and another freelancer from Upwork. So even bonuses are hard (we did give another artist bonus however because he was a rockstar).

 

In this situation, should we cancel the contract and pay him for the first milestone? Should we not pay him at all because we can't even use the product? What is the proper way of handling here?

 

We've only been working with him and the other artists so we don't have much experience on Upwork. 

 

We were really hoping to avoid situations like this by being upfront Smiley Sad

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 7

I think you are way over-thinking this.

 

Upwork is a great place for clients to find freelancers to hire.

Not every freelancer hiring is going to work out. That is normal.

 

The more successful a client you are, or the more successful business you have, the more likely you will be to hire people who don't work out for your project.

 

Don't waste your valueable time thinking about this. You are not the freelancer's coach or teacher or grandparent. Just close the contract on any underperforming freelancers and continue working only with the freelancers who provide the most value to your project.

 

Successful clients hire freelances who produce work they can't use.

Some of the best money you will spend will be paying those freelancers quickly and efficiently so that you can close their contracts and throw away their work.

 

re: "In this situation, should we cancel the contract and pay him for the first milestone?"

Yes.

 

re: "Should we not pay him at all because we can't even use the product?"

I don't know about that. You can try to not pay him at all, but he needs to agree to a refund - whether the refund is complete or partial. If he doesn't agree to the refund, then you need to go to dispute, and then maybe arbitration if the dispute doesn't work out in a resolution. As a client, all of that is just a waste of my time. So I just release payment, and close the contract. If I think the freelancer might try to contact me, then I just block him.

 

re: "What is the proper way of handling here?"

The proper way of handling this is to put yourself and your business first. Which means that you stop wasting time with freelancers who are not the top performers on your team. If you try to coach the underperforming freelancer or make deals with him or whatever it is you're planning to to do, then you're putting the freelancer above the needs of your business.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 7

re: "The artist reached out, we liked his previous work and decided to hire him. Before we did, we chatted with him a bit, explaining everything again. Provided another word document with everything we needed, etc. He accepted and the contract was signed... We were really hoping to avoid situations like this by being upfront"

 

That is the opposite of my approach.


I have hired dozens of artists on Upwork. I think Upwork is a GREAT PLACE to commission artwork. I never talk to the artists.

 

I post jobs and then hire artists who apply to the job post and whose portfolios I like.

 

In the original job posting, I provide detailed descriptions of the work I want done.

 

I let them do their work, and turn it in. If I like it, I use it. If I don't like it, I toss it.

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
4 of 7

During the time he was working, he also kept eluding to needing more money to be more motivated.

 

lol was he cheap? I've only ever seen the cheap bottom tier use this excuse. He also might be scamming you. Possibly farming out. No real professional asks for more money to stay motivated. lol

 

This sounds like one of those cases where you're gonna wind up paying more because you went cheap the first time around. I realize budgets can be tight, but there is a bottom tier on Upwork you have to do your best to avoid. Also scammers. It takes experience to spot them.

 

The best thing to do I think is go find someone on Upwork with a looooooooooooong history and great feedback who is obviously making good money and won't want to risk their account on scamming someone. You'll pay more probably, but you can be more confident that this person wont risk their account on scamming you.

 

People that have really tight budgets should stick with very active, high income freelancers because these people care about their accounts and take Upwork seriously.

Community Guru
Jennifer R Member Since: Sep 15, 2017
5 of 7

During the time he was working, he also kept eluding to needing more money to be more motivated.


If the freelancer requested to be paid upfront you can report him. The ToS says:
Making or demanding bribes or other payments without the intention of providing services in exchange for the payment;

If you can use any of the work provided by the freelancer, pay him a bit and leave an honest feedback. He will probably refund the whole amount so make the feedback disappear but his behaviour might get his account suspended.

 

 

Everyone else is working for free/ out of pocket except for him and another freelancer from Upwork. So even bonuses are hard (we did give another artist bonus however because he was a rockstar).
Not sure what you are trying to say, but requesting free work is also a violation of the ToS. You should always hire the freelancer so you own the work. Free work could backfire if a freelancer sues you for using artwork you do not own the copyright for. Set up a proper contract.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 7

re: "Everyone else is working for free/ out of pocket except for him and another freelancer from Upwork. So even bonuses are hard (we did give another artist bonus however because he was a rockstar).
Not sure what you are trying to say, but requesting free work is also a violation of the ToS. You should always hire the freelancer so you own the work. Free work could backfire if a freelancer sues you for using artwork you do not own the copyright for. Set up a proper contract."

 

Jennifer:

The original poster was simply pointing out that most of the people working on the project were working for free. This is fine. These people are not freelancers he hired on Upwork. These are friends and colleagues of the project owner.

Community Guru
Jennifer R Member Since: Sep 15, 2017
7 of 7

Preston H wrote:

re: "Everyone else is working for free/ out of pocket except for him and another freelancer from Upwork. So even bonuses are hard (we did give another artist bonus however because he was a rockstar).
Not sure what you are trying to say, but requesting free work is also a violation of the ToS. You should always hire the freelancer so you own the work. Free work could backfire if a freelancer sues you for using artwork you do not own the copyright for. Set up a proper contract."

 

Jennifer:

The original poster was simply pointing out that most of the people working on the project were working for free. This is fine. These people are not freelancers he hired on Upwork. These are friends and colleagues of the project owner.


But we couldn't really care less about him or his friends. If you are a founder you always start working without getting paid and most likely losing more money then winning. If he needs more money he has to try kickstarter or something like that.

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