If you’re a freelancer, chances are you’ve had a client “ghost” on you at some point. That is, they suddenly stop responding to your messages and requests for work, leaving you in the dark about what’s going on.
It can be really frustrating, especially if you were counting on that income to pay bills. But before you start panicking, there are a few things you can do to see if your client is truly ghosting you or just busy with other things or even sick.
First, try reaching out again and sending reminder letters. It could be that they didn’t see your first message, or that they’re just very busy and haven’t had a chance to get back to you yet. I personally prefer phoning clients who haven’t paid as it’s more personal. If you don’t hear anything after a few days, then you can start to worry.
Another thing you can do is check in with other freelancers who may have worked with this client before. See if they’ve had any similar experiences or if they have any insight into what might be going on. On Upwork and possibly even on Fiver, it may be possible to see previous freelancers that clients have worked with if any.
Lastly, if you still haven’t heard anything after a week or so, it’s probably safe to assume that your client has ghosted you. At this point, you can reach out one last time and give them a deadline for getting back to you. If they don’t respond by then, it’s time to utilise your insurance and see if they can send some type of letter.
Some signs my client is ghosting me
- They stop responding to your emails or messages. This is probably the most obvious sign that something is up. If your client suddenly stops responding to your attempts to communicate, it’s likely that they’re ghosting you.
- They stop making payments. If you’re not being paid for your work, it’s a pretty good indicator that something is wrong. Your client may be trying to avoid you because they don’t want to face the music.
- They start making excuses. If your client starts making excuses for why they can’t meet deadlines or why they’re not responsive, it’s a sign that they’re trying to distance themselves from the situation.
What to agree with clients before you start work:
When you start working with a new client, it’s important to agree on a few key things before you start. This will help prevent any misunderstandings or miscommunication down the line.
First, agree on what the project entails. What exactly are you going to be doing for them? Make sure you have a clear understanding of the scope of work.
Next, agree on deadlines. When does the client need the work delivered by? Make sure you can commit to these deadlines before you start.
Finally, agree on payment terms. How much will you be paid for your work? When will you be paid? Again, make sure you’re happy with these arrangements before starting work.
Create a contract
If you’re starting a freelance project, it’s important to have a contract in place. This will help protect both you and your client in case anything goes wrong. Without a contract, there’s always the risk that your client may try to ghost you (i.e. disappear without paying).
So if you want to avoid any potential headaches, be sure to get everything in writing! Also, make sure to include a clause in the contract, stating that deadlines can only be met if the client sends through the information and replies in a timely manner e.g. within 48 hours.
Ask for a deposit
If you’re starting a freelance project with a new client, it’s not uncommon to ask for a deposit. Sometimes it’s important not to start work until payment has been received. This ensures you that the client is serious, and committed to the project and that you’re willing to start.
However, if you have worked for the client in the past or the client is very established, then asking for a deposit may not be necessary.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to ask for a deposit. Consider the client’s relationship with you and the project’s scope before making a decision.
Listen to your heart
If there are any red flags or warnings before you start working with the client, don’t just ignore them. red flags can include, poor communication or unreasonable expectations. Freelancers can fire and reject clients as well, so don’t feel bad.
How insurance can help freelancers
Insurance can help freelancers in several ways. For example, if you’re ghosted by a client, your insurance policy can cover the lost wages and start chasing the client to pay. Or, if you’re injured while working on a project, your insurance can help pay for your medical bills and any loss of pay.
Furthermore, some insurance companies offer separate Professional Indemnity Insurance. This helps cover costs in case the client makes a claim for a freelancer’s malpractice or error.
Of course, not all insurance policies are created equal. Be sure to read the fine print and understand what your policy covers before you purchase it. But if you’re looking for ways to protect yourself as a freelancer, insurance can save you a lot of money.
Can freelancers be taken to court?
The answer, unfortunately, is yes. If you take on a project and then stop working on it without any explanation, your client can take legal action against you. This is especially true if they’ve already paid you for the work.
So, if you’re thinking about skipping out on a project, think again. You could end up in hot water (and not the good kind).
The client can also take the freelancer to court if he/she makes a mistake and the mistake costs the company a lot of money or wasted product. Professional Indemnity/Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance is vital if you want to be protected in case the worst happens.
Yes, my client is ghosting me.
There are many reasons why clients ghost. Don’t let one bad experience such as being ghosted discourage you from freelancing – it’s bound to happen at some point! Just remember to stay calm and be professional, and you’ll eventually find clients who appreciate your work and hopefully, you will learn from the experience.
By taking the time to agree on the terms of a project up front, you can avoid any potential problems further down the line. So start your freelance projects off on the right foot by getting everything in writing!