What To Do If a Client Ghosts You
You finally landed another client as a freelancer and they seem like a great fit — hooray! But after a few emails and follow-ups, your messages have gone unanswered. So what should you do if a client ghosts you?
Ghosting isn’t only a problem on dating apps; it also occurs in the freelancing industry. Fortunately, the steps listed below can help address the situation and prevent clients from ghosting you in the future.
If a Client Ghosts You Stay Calm
The first response you’ll probably have after a client ghosts you is to panic. This is especially true if you’re lacking other work opportunities, or if you’ve completed their work, but they disappear before paying you.
If you encounter a client ghosting you, avoid panicking or becoming overly anxious about it. These emotions can influence your response, and often, your responses can become ineffective or emotionally driven. In situations like these, try your best to remain calm and act professionally.
Before you reach out to your client, remind yourself of the following things:
- Don’t jump to conclusions, as you don’t know what happened. It’s true your client might have flaked out completely, but they could have had an unexpected event or simply missed your email.
- Assess the situation before responding to it. Do you want to follow up with the client and continue working with them? Or do you want to reach out and inform them that you can’t work without constant communication? Make sure you have answers to these questions before sending another email to the client.
- It’ll be easier for you to respond to the situation and make sound decisions when you’re calm. Remind yourself that there are plenty of other clients who would be willing to work with you.
Send a Message to Follow Up
After assessing the situation, now you can reach out to the client that ghosted you. Depending on the relationship you have with your client, you can send them an email, call them, or use the messaging apps or software that you usually communicate through.
The message you’re going to send to your client should be aimed at resolving the issue at hand – finding out if they received your last message. If you need to, read your message to a friend or colleague and have them assess whether the message sets the right tone. Although it can be frustrating not to hear from your client, avoid letting your emotions get the best of you when sending the first message.
Here are a couple of examples of first follow-up messages I’ve sent clients:
If don’t get a response from your client after sending the first message, send another. But this time, add a bit of escalation to your email to create a sense of urgency. If a client has ghosted you at the beginning of a project, let them know your schedule is filling up. If a client has ghosted you at the end of a project, remind them if you have a price escalation clause in your contract, and after another email or two, that you will pursue legal action.
Here are a few examples of later follow-up emails I’ve sent:
Learn From Your Experience
Moving on from a client is challenging. However if they’re no longer responding to any of your messages, it’s best to break up with the client and move on.
If you don’t hear anything from your client after sending a second or third message — sometimes it’s best to take a loss and look for new, better clients. Take note of any red flags this client had, and look out for them in future interactions with clients.
3 Common Reasons Why Clients Ghost You
There are several reasons why clients may ghost you, and it’s important to know what the reasons are so you can plan accordingly for future clients.
Here are three common reasons why a client ghosts you:
It’s Not a Good Fit
One of the most common reasons why clients disappear is because the freelancer’s services don’t fit their current needs. Just like applying to traditional jobs and dealing with recruiters ghosting you, clients often think it’s easier to simply not reply, instead of sending a message to inform you that you’re not the right fit.
They Started Working with Someone Else
Clients will always want the best person for the job and will likely lose contact with anyone else who doesn’t fit their qualifications. If the client you’re talking to found someone who was a better fit, they likely won’t continue communicating with you. This is especially true for clients working in highly competitive, fast-paced industries.
They Lost Confidence in Your Services
Do you have bad work examples in your portfolio? Was the client unhappy with the first output you submitted to them? Clients also cut ties with freelancers when they lose confidence in the services provided to them. Business owners have a lot of things on their plates, and most would rather move on to looking for a better candidate than train or lecture someone who’s newly hired.
How to Prevent Clients from Ghosting You
Be quick with your responses.
Responding to clients within the first 24 hours of when they reach out to you increases their chances of working with you.
Always sign a contract.
As a freelancer, it’s important to always have your client sign a contract that outlines the scope of work you’re agreeing to complete, as well as the payment terms. Some freelancers will ask that clients pay 50% of the project amount upfront, and 50% upon completion. That way if a client ghosts you, you will have at least received partial payment for your work.
If you aren’t comfortable doing this on your own, using a platform like Upwork or Fiverr can help ensure that you get paid on time for your work.
Realizing that a client ghosted you is frustrating, especially if you were looking forward to working with this client long-term.
But since this situation is out of your control, it’s best to take the steps outlined above to move forward. Having a client ghost you might be hard, but trust us it’s part of the freelancing experience. Over time you’ll learn how to spot if a client is high quality, or if they’re likely to ghost you.