Photo by Aleksandr Neplokhov from Pexels

Freelancing: How To Avoid Delivering The Wrong Work

A cautionary tale

Andy Taylor
7 min readOct 6, 2021


The email came into the freelancer group late on a Thursday — they needed somebody to work 3 days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) to deliver some work urgently. There was a gap due to a staff member family issue.

This was a large project with many moving parts and deadlines. This specific work needed doing so it could be passed up the chain on time and keep the whole thing on track.

I looked at the brief and knew I could do it. It relied a little more heavily on a piece of software I’d used in a slightly different way, but it was a chance to explore what that system could do.

Due to the tightness of the deadline, the pay was reasonable. I threw my hat into the ring straightaway. I always have my supporting documents and examples of past work ready to go, so it’s easy to apply immediately.

By the next morning, an introductory call was set up, things were looking good.

The alarm bells rung during that call, but I ignored them. I thought I understood where they wanted to get to, but how they wanted to get there seemed bizarre.

Still, I went with it. A good chance to see a different way and build on my years of experience. Industry practices are always iterating and freelancing is a great way to stay up-to-date with new approaches.

Lesson 1

Don’t ignore the alarm bells. Have the confidence to question both the final destination and the route there. Don’t assume the person giving you this work:

  • knows exactly what they want or what they need to deliver
  • is more experienced than you in this process
  • has ever outsourced this part of the process successfully before

Also, don’t assume that the way you have worked before is the way this company, or this project, or this person likes to do things.

Clarify politely. Ask now (and keep asking) what the exact final deliverables are.

Try to hone it down to 3 points so that you can continue to quote these in your communications throughout the job. That gives them the…



Andy Taylor

I want to learn. I try to grow. I’d love to help.