Let's say I hire some developer or an artist for a project, and that I pay him hourly. How am I supposed to know how many hours he worked for the content he provides to me ?

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    Define "effectively" – WorkerDrone Jan 2 '17 at 21:26

If you are concerned about this, contract by the job rather than by the hour. That eliminates the question. Realistically, you don't care if they create the world in six days, or goof off for five days and then pull an all-nighter; all you care about is that the product is delivered on time and within budget.

This may mean you pay more on average than if they billed by hour. Distrust has costs.

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    But be prepared that you pay through the nose for deviations from the agreed-upon project scope (the later in the project the more). So it is really important to have exact specifications before the project starts. – Eike Pierstorff Jan 2 '17 at 22:54
  • Yeah, we creative types love doing it that way. I've joked that I would take 10% of what I saved the company. My first project saved the company 4.5 million, and I did it in 3 weeks. :D – Old_Lamplighter Jan 3 '17 at 21:32

Let's say I hire some developer or an artist for a project, and that I pay him hourly. How am I supposed to know how many hours he worked for the content he provides to me ?

In most circumstances, the people you hire work where you work, and you can see when they arrive and when they leave. You can also periodically check in with them to see how things are going.

I'm guessing you are talking about hiring a remote worker. In that case, you need to be able to trust that the worker is actually working during the hours that are reported. You can find a worker you trust by personally knowing them, by having someone you trust recommend them, or by otherwise depending on their reputation.

You can still ask for and receive a detailed weekly status report indicating what they have worked on, as a sanity check.

And ultimately, you will depend on their work products to tell you that they are actually making progress and putting in time on the project.

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The real answer is, you don't. Take more than one bid and make comparisons. You may find some will charge more because they have more experience and a reputation for doing good work. They should be less-risky to work with, so you pay more.

Once you've determined who will give you a reasonable rate, you need to check references and ask if they produced results on time and budget. No point in having someone tell you they can do something in 5 hours and turn-around and tell you it is going to cost more for whatever reason they give. Experienced professionals are better at giving estimates, but they're not always honest about it.

Otherwise, your only options are to learn how to do it yourself, so you have a better idea what is involved or watch over their shoulder the entire time.

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First, someone who you pay by the hour to create some graphics for you is not an employee, it's a contractor.

You know the hours worked by looking at the bill. You either believe that bill and pay it, or you say that you suspect him or her of defrauding you. That's unlikely to help you avoiding payment unless you have evidence (which you are unlikely to have). You work with people, at some point you have to trust them.

There are things you can do: Instead of saying "do this work and send me a bill for your hours", you can hire someone to do eight hours or 16 hours of work for you. That's your payment fixed. This may also get you the best possible quality for your money; if the designer is paid for 16 hours they will give you the best possible quality they can do in 16 hours.

What doesn't work well is having a contract to do the job for a fixed price. One, the designer will not accept any requests for changes from you. Second, the designer has no motivation to do a good job, only one that meets the contract. Third, the designer will add into the price the risk that the job takes longer.

What doesn't work whatsoever is trying to control the designer (looking over his or her shoulder). Some car mechanic's prices list was: "Fixing your car: $25/hour. $35/hour if you watch. $45/hour if you give advice. $55/hour if you try to help".

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