So you’ve landed a new client, agreed on a scope of work and started working on the project. You have been working together and communicating for a few weeks, and they are happy with your work. Then all of a sudden they stop responding to your emails and calls. You have been ghosted.
If you’ve been an online freelancer long enough, you’ve probably experienced this before. While it’s an unfortunate reality of working online, here are some things you can do to minimize the chances of being ghosted by a client.
1. Examine your customers
One of the biggest benefits of being an online freelancer is choosing who you work with. When you’re starting out as a freelancer and trying to grow your clientele, you may not have the luxury of being demanding and you may have to take on any job that comes your way. However, as you begin to establish yourself, a vetting process can help you identify red flags early on and avoid working with clients who are likely to ghost you.
For example, if a client is vague about the project requirements upfront, it may indicate that they don’t have a clear vision of what they want. This can lead to frustration on both sides and eventually the client may decide to ghost you rather than deal with the hassle. Additionally, before launching the project, you can request to submit a paid sample to test the waters and get a feel for working with the client.
Finally, you can work on reliable independent platforms, like Fiverr or other alternative services that act as intermediaries and help screen customers and secure payments to reduce your risk of being scammed.
2. Sign a contract
Another way to protect yourself against ghosting is to have a contract outlining the scope of work and expected deliverables. Having a carefully drafted written agreement detailing the project schedule and payment terms can help minimize miscommunications and provide a clear roadmap for both parties to follow.
If a client decides to ghost you, having a contract in place gives you a paper trail that you can use to try to recover unpaid funds. In some cases, you can use the contract to take legal action against the customer, especially if the money involved is significant.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be in the same physical space or use pen and paper, as various tools allow you to sign documents online. For example, if you have an iOS device, you can sign a document directly from your iPhone.
3. Get prepaid
One of the best ways to minimize your chances of being ghosted, or at least mitigate the financial impact, is to get paid upfront before you start working on a project.
Ideally, you want to receive 50% of the entire project fee upfront and the remaining 50% upon completion. This gives the client some skin in the game and ensures that they are committed to seeing the project through to completion. If the client is unwilling to pay this percentage or if the project is large and will take a long time, you may consider splitting the payments into smaller installments due at specific stages of the project.
Alternatively, you can entice your customers to pay the full amount upfront by offering them a discount. For example, you can offer a 5-10% discount if they agree to pay the full project fee. This way, you won’t have to worry about losing money if the client decides to ghost you, and you’ll still earn a decent profit.
4. Provide quality services and deliver on time
Much like a romantic partner, your client may ghost you because they are unhappy with the quality of your working relationship due to miscommunication, missed deadlines, or poorly done work, and they are easier to walk away than to talk about it.
To avoid this, it is essential that you fulfill your end of the bargain and provide quality services that meet or exceed your customer’s expectations. In addition, you must be punctual with your deliveries and meet all deadlines.
If you encounter any unforeseen issues, communicate them to your customer as soon as possible, so that they are not left in the dark. Doing your part will greatly reduce your chances of being ghosted.
5. Establish clear lines of communication
Early in the project, establish clear lines of communication with your client and agree on a communication method and timeline. This might mean setting up weekly check-ins via email, video call, or using a project management tool like Asana to track progress and deadlines. Whichever method you choose, make sure you’re both on the same page.
Once you achieve this goal, and in the unfortunate event that your customer is silent, you will know when, where and how to follow up with them. However, at this point, it’s too early to attribute their silence to ghosting. Maybe they are dealing with a personal emergency or they have too much to do.
By following up quickly, respectfully and professionally, you give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to explain themselves. You can start by sending them an email before using other methods like calling them or contacting them on social networks. If you haven’t heard from them after a few tries, it’s probably time to:
6. Stop working on the project
If you’ve tried all of the tips above and still haven’t heard from your client, it’s probably time to stop working on the project. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just give up on the project altogether.
First, you need to send your client a final invoice for the work you’ve done so far. If they don’t respond either, you can contact them one last time. If there’s still no response, it might be time to move on to a new project. You might consider taking legal action, but it’s often not worth the time and money.
Take precautionary measures to avoid ghosting
Being an online freelancer comes with its own set of challenges, and being ghosted by a client is one of them. While there’s no surefire way to prevent this from happening, you can reduce your chances of being ghosted by taking the preventative steps we’ve shared, and mitigate your financial risk by making sure you’re equipped. to get more customers quickly.