Practical tips so a client can’t swindle you out of your hard-earned money.
You land your dream client, submit your best work, and eagerly wait for payday. But when it’s time for them to make the payment, the client suddenly stops replying to your emails.
I wish this was a hypothetical scenario, but it’s not uncommon for freelancers to get ghosted.
How do you safeguard yourself against that?
The first step is to always insist on a contract and have a lawyer go over it to check if it’s air-tight. But a contract can’t guarantee you won’t be ghosted ever.
Here are a few extra precautionary steps that I’ve adopted as a freelance writer. I hope they’re helpful to you as well.
1. Ask for upfront payment
Ask for payment before you submit your work.
Not all clients would agree to this. Here are some alternatives you can offer: Ask for a certain percentage (usually 50%) of the amount to be paid before the work begins in earnest.
This way, you have some assured amount in the bank and won’t completely have to be broke even if you client turns out to be an a##hole and ghosts you later.
2. Accept contracts towards the month-end
You can start working preferably with just a week remaining.
This way, you can complete a week’s worth of work and submit your invoice. If you get paid, it’s amazing.
If not, well, it sucks, but at least it was only for a week. Now you’ve got your priorities straight.
3. Ask to submit a paid work sample
Before starting to work in full force, insist on submitting a paid sample.
When the payment is made, you’ll at least have peace of mind that the client is reliable. Of course, this doesn’t 100% guarantee that you won’t be ghosted on payday, but this is an added layer of protection.
4. Only work with credible people
How can a client establish credibility? This can be someone a friend recommended to you or a person you’ve interacted with a few times on social media.
If it’s a complete stranger, check their website for how long they’ve been in business and if they have any reviews.
No background research can be 100% reliable, but at least you’ll be armed with the knowledge that will make you less likely to be scammed.
Summing up, here are four practical steps you can apply to avoid being ghosted as a freelancer:
- Ask for upfront payment.
- Accept contracts towards the month-end, preferably with just a week remaining.
- Ask to submit a paid work sample.
- Do a background check and only work with credible people.
What other steps do you take up to make sure you aren’t ghosted by a client after a contract is signed? Do let me know in the comments.