Where, oh where, did my client go?

3 ways to deal with the client who’s gone missing.

You had the most amazing time.

You’re on cloud nine thinking about all the possibilities.

…your future together

…what you’ll create.

 

Only to be stunned when you never hear from them again.

 

"Was it something I said?"

Doubt starts to creep in.

Sounds awfully similar to what happened after that amazing first date you just had. But it’s something most freelance designers experience all too often when their client suddenly goes MIA.

How can we make a living if our client flakes and doesn’t respond back? Or worse yet, skips out on paying?

Here are 3 ways I deal with (or avoid altogether) the dreaded client that goes missing:

1. Get 50% payment up front.

I know for newbie freelancers it can be hard to work up the courage to charge what you’re worth, and on top of that, to ask for half of it up front before the project has even begun! But I have found that charging a 50% (non-refundable) deposit for large projects lets the client know you are serious about the work you do and you expect them to take it seriously as well.

2. Give them a deadline to respond.

I like to wait about a 3-5 days after my last email to check in. If I don’t hear from them within a few days after checking in, I will then try once more and let them know that I will need a response by X date or I will need to put their project on hold or cancel it altogether.

3. Realize it’s not me, it’s them.

I know, easier said than done. But it’s unprofessional for someone to never respond back to you. Especially if you went beyond the initial project inquiry and started working on the design for them. If they did not want to continue working with you, they could have just been upfront with you. Ya know, like a normal professional.

It can be quite defeating when you think things are going well with a client, only to never hear from them again. I’ve had clients stop responding after they hear how much the project cost. Some go missing after I’ve sent them the initial designs or even halfway through the project. If this has happened to you, know you are not alone. It’s happened to the best of us. The trick is to keep going. Learn what you could have done differently and make note of red flags. As I learn from my experiences, I have had fewer problems with clients who stop responding mid-project, and I’m sure you will too.


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Melinda Livsey

Orange County, Ca