The great majority of us looking to shared, collaborative work spaces are in the freelance game and if you’re new to it, you may have realized by now that, unfortunately, not everyone is out there trying to help you. In fact, for every good client, you’ll find another looking to get something for nothing. You do the work, go to collect your check, and the client is a phantom in the wind.
Late last year, I asked friends over at WePay for some advice on getting invoices paid. In spite of the due diligence you might do, your work as a freelancer is still bound to run into challenges so we asked them take the challenge up a level; getting invoices paid is one thing, how might freelancers avoid getting screwed in the first place?
Team Up with Peers
Nothing scares a deadbeat client away like bad word of mouth. After all, they won’t get away with their bad behavior if everyone knows about it. Screwing over one freelancer is one thing, but if that freelancer tells their freelancer friends and they tell their freelancer friends, the chances of it happening again are slim. Still wondering why working from a coworking space has advantages over working from home?
This is why you should meet others in your field and related industries. Not only will they be a wealth of sage advice, they can warn you when they encounter someone who won’t pay up when time is due. Without this system of colleagues, you run the risk of pairing up with a client who will burn you later. Local networking groups of others in your industry and national organizations like the Freelancer’s Union are both good places to start bringing attention to bad behavior.
Trust Your Gut
There’s a feeling when you’re first starting out that you need to take every job that comes along. No matter how busy you are, no matter how strange the job seems, you should take it because who knows what the future holds?
While the work ethic is something to admire, this mentality can land you in big trouble. If you take every job that comes along you’re going to run into a deadbeat at some point. Your gut will be screaming at you to run away but if your brain is telling you to do it anyway you’re out
money and time.
If something smells fishy, it’s probably fish, or however that saying goes. In any case, don’t just take a suspicious job because you need it – if it turns out to be a deadbeat client job, you won’t get paid anyway, so what does it matter?
Get Those Contracts!
You naturally want to get started working ASAP, so working up contracts for every client seems like a waste of time. However, these little documents canprevent so much future hassle it’s ridiculous not to work with them.
For example, if a client signs a contract, they have to make a conscious decision to break it when they don’t pay. If there’s no contract, they can find excuses not to pay you. The contract legally binds you to perform the work and the client to pay.
Also, have you ever had a client complain you didn’t do the job when you did it to their precise instructions? If you lay everything out in the contract word for word, this practically goes away. Don’t leave anything up to chance and your life suddenly becomes much simpler!
Every freelancer deals with deadbeat clients. Have a story to share? Let us know below!