Sourcing freelance services if you’re smart, young & web savvy

So you’re looking for a freelance designer (or maybe a pattern maker or sewing contractor) and come across a really great site -beautifully coded, neat and clean with tons of current designs, tech packs and image files from brand name customers the designer supposedly worked with. I’ve seen sites filled with such impressive stuff that even I am tempted to hire them to do my own job.

Have you had this experience? I thought so. Before you move any closer, check the dates on those sample sketches. If they are recent -meaning, stuff that isn’t even for sale yet or just barely is- better check your enthusiasm at the door because you don’t want to hire this person. No way. No how.

Or maybe you think that’s just old-school talking. I say that if you hire someone like this maybe you’d better get a signed NDA. Conversely, old pros find these offensive and will show you to the door the minute you whip one out because contracts are the antithesis of trust. Personally, I’d keep looking. A designer/patternmaker/sewing contractor who doesn’t know enough to keep mum on customer’s information probably doesn’t know a lot of other things either*. It doesn’t matter how nice they are. However nice or unintentional, you can’t trust a freelancer who could hurt you this badly.

This is the skinny: If you paid for it, it’s yours. No provider can use your stuff without explicit permission. A legitimate service provider will not use customer’s work to generate business for themselves unless it is dated. As a point of comparison, see my policies. A legitimate provider won’t even ask. If you hire someone who broadcasts customer information, why would you be so special that they wouldn’t do that to you?

As I’ve said ad nauseum, I’m more likely to trust a sewing contractor with a scruffy cardboard sign on the door; don’t presume someone is a pro by a slick website. These days, it’s almost a strike against someone. Give me a 1995 era website with the only interactivity being a button you can push to set off fireworks and I’d trust it more. Building a pretty site can cost close to $0 but everybody falls for it. Most of the best people in the business don’t even have websites. Never forget that this business is mostly offline and is very personal and relationship centered. You’ve heard of the diamond dealers who do it all with a hand shake? That’s us too only they dress better than we do.

And yeah, it annoys me. Start ups can be paranoid and crazy. Crazy wastes time and alienates the very people you should want to hire. People who put up professional websites but break the very precepts of professional conduct do things that fuel craziness and make the rest of us look bad. And you want to know the craziest thing? The people most likely to hire an amateur are smart and young, web savvy people. Don’t hire someone like yourself. That’s not the skill set you need otherwise you’d just do it yourself.

There’s more at the back story.
* I don’t doubt X worked for X company (being an associate designer in a lot of companies often means answering the phone, getting coffee, cutting swatches and filling out paperwork) but if they’re hanging their own shingle, they are out of the loop if they’re broadcasting customer information like this.

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