I love being a freelancer. I’ve been a freelancer for more than 11 years now, and even though I have had so-so clients, I believe that most of my clients are fantastic. Overall, we have had excellent communication, mutual respect and a professional relationship.
On the other hand, before I found long-term, respectful clients, I had a few clients that would go MIA and disappear from the face of the Earth, avoiding paying my invoices.
In a situation like this, what can you do? To help, here are several tips for what you can do when a client falls off of the map.
The Big Picture
When this first happened to me, it was in my early years of freelancing, and I was devastated. I thought, like many people, that I`m the problem; that my work was not good, that I did not meet the client’s expectations, that I did not give everything to make the project successful.
No, none of these are the reason, and you should stop thinking that.
I never heard back from that client and ended up with two unpaid invoices, but later, I heard that he did the same to other freelancers; he simply did not pay them.
As you can see, sometimes you can give your heart to finish the project, to be perfect, and in the end, you will always find a client that will avoid you and not pay.
Not Everyone is as Strong as You Are
The world of freelancing and being a small business owner means negotiations, contracts, deadlines, follow-ups and invoicing, and it`s not for everyone.
However, when I started to work as a freelancer, it was entirely a new world, and it was stressful for me. Nevertheless, after 11 years and few different clients, I have gotten used to it, became tougher, and so will you.
Here’s another example:
When working with clients, do you deliver the project and get paid, then never hear back from them again? It happens, as well, and again, it`s not your fault.
Maybe they are done with the work or don`t need any other projects, or it was a one-time project instead of on-going, or perhaps, they simply don`t have enough resources and don’t want to tell you that.
Look Around the Internet
If once the world was your oyster, these days the internet is your oyster.
If you feel bad that you didn`t get paid or hear back from your client, try to research online and see maybe if it happened to another freelancer, too. Maybe, it`s a client with a history of non-payment.
Alternatively, if you Google that company, you may find that perhaps they are out of business and didn`t say anything to you.
As a freelancer and a business owner, you will do everything that is in your power to finish the project, deliver the goods and services, and meet the client’s expectations. However, from time to time, you will find clients that are not paying, not taking calls and not answering emails.
Remember, it will not always be your fault, especially if you did your best.
What you can do in a situation like this is to get feedback from other clients and freelancers and see if there is something to improve in your work process.
Also, keep in mind that researching your potential new clients before starting to work with them is the best prevention to avoid situations like this.