This is probably the 10th blog post I have written on this subject – it was prompted by another rant in a large Facebook group about a customer being ripped off – we must all do our best to tidy our own house. Be authentic in how you deal with customers and they will come back again and again.

When you see an ad or get a Personal Message in a Facebook Group from a so-called Guru, how do you know that they can get you to where you need to be and, you will come out unscathed both financially and mentally?

The straight answer is that you don’t. Many times we see customers RAGING on about they answered an ad from a coach, freelancer or web developer and now that developer has disappeared. This can cause distress, anger, business failure, and legal hassles – especially if you have paid an amount up front. As with all business relationships, trust has to be earned, and that goes for both sides. Here are five ways to protect your self from disappointment.

1 Get References

Get references; recent ones only. Better yet ask for examples of work with live URLs or web sites. Connect with other customers directly to find out more about whether these so-called gurus did their job or not.

2 Get An Iron-Clad Contract

Before handing over any money at all, it pays to get a legally-verified, iron-clad contract. A contract will set out precisely what each party expects from the other; all backed up by the force of law. Although you could use a template, if you’re spending a lot of money, getting a solicitor to draft a contract for you is probably a better idea.

3 Never Pay More Than 50% Upfront

Don’t pay more than 50 percent up front. You want to make sure that the “Guru” has an incentive to deliver.

4 Always Ask For Examples Of Previous Work

Gurus should have a portfolio of work that they can show you from previous clients, along with names, locations, and feedback. Write down the names of the clients and get in contact with them to check that their claims stack up.

5 Ask To See Credentials

Credentials are a good sign that the person you’re paying has at least some expertise in their chosen field. Check to see if they’ve been to an accredited educational institution and whether they are members of any industry organizations.

Choosing a freelance web developer or coach (or any other self-proclaimed Guru) via an ad on Facebook or via a PM in a Facebook group can be a minefield. But, by following this advice, you’re much more likely to stumble upon one that can help you rather than merely empty your bank account.

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Andrew Palmer
Andrew is the founder of Elegant Marketplace.