I am always talking about putting yourself out there, pushing yourself forward to meet your clients’ needs, while there are plenty of great clients out there, there are nasty ones as well, right down to scammers who would, without a blink of an eye, take your work and not pay you. Worst case, they blacklist you. To me, a loss of profits is a part of doing business, however, it is a matter of integrity and your precious time, effort and work that does not get the appreciation it deserves.
So to all the freelancers out there, today I am going to run some tips on how to protect yourself.
Use 3rd Party Platforms
When you are communicating with your clients, unless you are a company, it is probably hard to pursue a lawsuit if your client decides not to pay you in the end. Using 3rd party platforms will protect you as they most likely adopt the escrow system where they will charge your client first and hold on to the amount until you have completed the job before releasing it to you upon approval from your client.
Keep communication black and white
Most of the clients will prefer to communicate over Skype to discuss the job in further details. I do that too when I hire freelancers for my clients. However, make sure that if you spoke over Skype, do end with a typed summary of what both of you discussed and your client’s expectations. In the event, should there be a dispute, you’ll have black and white evidence to back up your claims?
Payment over Bank Transfer
If both you and your clients are in the same country or if you are holding a bank account in the country the clients operates, consider opting in for bank transfer payment instead of PayPal and cheque if you are not using 3rd Party Platforms. This being that cheque could bounce and your client can instigate an investigation with PayPal to claw back your payment. With bank transfer, it is nearly impossible to get back a transfer unless you have legal reasons.
Again, if you choose not to use 3rd Party Platforms to save the 10% commission fee, please do protect yourself by asking for a down payment before starting work. The usual practice is 50% upfront and 50% when the job is completed.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate your fees. If you think it is unreasonable, don’t be afraid to say so, politely of course. Ask if it is budget constraints and if you can do anything to help elevate that. For example, one of my clients want to engage me to write an advertorial but my fees are too high for his budget. I suggested that he give me 5 advertorial projects in bulk and proposed a discount. It is a win-win situation where I get more business and he gets the price he is hoping for.
Align on your expectations
When you don’t speak face to face, there are a lot of misinterpretation of words or speech. When a client engages me to write an advertorial, I check if the topic requires research, if there is any fact-finding needed, whether if copyrighted images are required, the timeline given, what kind of style he is looking for, who is his target audience and if he needs SEO words in his articles. All these are chargeable components. So it is not just simply $5 for an article.
Black and White
If you are not working on a 3rd party platform, please do ensure that your client provides a contractor contract to you. There are a lot of samples on the web for you to download and show it to your client. (If you need a sample, you can reach out to me.) As you are a freelancer, any contract you issued under your name would not have an as much legal impact as the client’s contract. If your client refuses, please do refer him to engage you on a 3rd party platform.
I do hope the above are useful to you! If you have any prior bad experiences, do share with us in our comments below.