4 Unexpected Challenges that can Come When Working with Freelancers

Running an online business has it’s pros and cons. One of the many benefits however, is having the ability to hire freelance workers and virtual assistants around the world to complete tasks for you. Such tasks usually outsourced to freelancers include content creation, social media management, design work or anything else that you might be able to teach and automate. No matter what it is you are using freelancers for, they are a vital part of the entrepreneur and business process.

At the same time, while more entrepreneurs, businesses and brands are looking to outsource and hire freelancers over in-house staff or employees, millions of jobs are being automated and outsourced in the process. A new report from The Register shows just how far the global economy has come and how jobs are quickly changing around the world. IBM, which is one of the largest employers in North America, has a growing number of employees contracted from both India and Bangladesh… and they aren’t alone.

Entrepreneurs are finding the process of locating, hiring and retaining talent from outside their home country easier than ever before thanks to new platforms designed to put these groups in touch. As wonderful and amazing the concept of hiring and using freelance workers might be, there are always going to be some unexpected issues and problems that arise in the process. Here are four unexpected, but still fairly common problems that new and established businesses run into when they work with employees outside of their home country.


There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to payment, but we’ll start with wages themselves. How much do you offer, and what is a fair rate to be charged? These are some of the first questions you’ll face as an entrepreneur, and you’re not alone. The truth is somewhere between “you get what you pay for” and “offer a living wage”. Payment also varies depending on where your freelancer is from, and what the actual work is they are going to be completing. Currency exchange rates, value of service and a host of other variables mean that what you pay for in one country might get you quite a bit more in another. A good example of this can be seen in India right now and how they are seeing an extra level of taxation on all payments leaving the country — which can hurt both the freelancer and client.

The best advice to offer is to gather some data on what the going wage is for what you’re asking. Look at sites that offer the kind of content or service you want and see what they charge. Also be sure to review existing job postings and query candidates that interest you about their salary levels. Often, you’ll find freelancers want work and can be flexible with rates if you agree to certain conditions. Many freelance writing jobs sites and marketplaces will have all of these options in place and readily accessible.


The primary method you’ll use to pay freelancers is what’s known as a digital wallet (like Paypal or Payoneer), and most allow for an international money transfer to many but not all countries. If your freelancer works in a country that isn’t serviced by that provider, then you might have a hard time retaining his or her services. Not every wallet and payment processor can do currency conversions to any country, and some will outright refuse working within a particular country. You don’t have to look very far to find horror stories of what can happen if you don’t pay your freelancer, but you shouldn’t have a problem with this if you ask questions ahead of time.

This is something we’ve all too commonly see in the world of affiliate marketing and e-commerce when trying to sell or promote products out of the US. Sure, there is going to be demand for your product or service, but if you don’t accept the right payment methods, all of your efforts will be in vain.

When working with a freelancer, see if they have a preferred method of receiving or transferring money. In most cases, Paypal is one of the most common solutions, but there are other options to explore as well.

Rates and Fees

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you transfer money, it’s your freelance contractor who ends up footing the bill in many cases. They may be able to write off or recoup some of those costs, but a vast majority of that money is just lost to third parties. There’s not much you can do to cut those middlemen, but you can work with your freelancer to find a solution with reduced fees. Some employers will even go so far as to handle currency conversion on their own. Certainly a nice and welcome gesture, but not a requirement.

This is actually just another factor in the overall pricing of hiring freelance workers out of country — it’s going to be cheaper! Personally, I will often eat any charges that might be passed along to the freelancer or VA, and it’s usually something that should be negotiated on beforehand. Another thing to consider is using any of the major freelancer writer marketplaces like TextBroker or Contentmart. Not only are they providing the service and making sure both parties are happy with the work and transaction, they are also dealing with any foreign payments and transaction fees as well.

Unless you’re looking to go above and beyond to retain proper talent (more on that in a moment), you’ll be fine if you offer to try and cover some of those fees or find some other way to help out.

Ownership Over Work and Content

Let’s face it… if you are outsourcing anything to a freelancer or virtual assistant in another country, you are probably paying well below average U.S. rates. While this isn’t a problem in itself, it does offer the opportunity for things to occasionally go wrong. One such issue could be the inability to stay in contact with your freelancer, receive the work you’ve paid for, or even having your content, work or relations taken advantage of.

It’s one thing to work with a company or service provider within your country and have everything go smoothly. It’s another when things go bad. Usually you would have the option to hire an attorney and take legal action for such damages against someone working in your same country. However, when you start working with virtual teams or freelancers in other countries, it’s pretty much all up for grabs. Not only would the process be a thousand times harder to take action on and win, it would also be much more costly in the process.

The lesson here is simple… don’t delegate out work that could jeopardize your business or come back to hurt you later on.

Final Thoughts

If your goal is to acquire and retain top talent, then paying attention to these important details is a crucial step for you to take as a business owner. You won’t need to ask around for too long to find someone who has hired the wrong kind of talent. Retaining a good freelancer is worth the struggle of making sure they can get paid without eating too much in fees.

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