What to Do When a Freelance Client Doesn’t Hold Up Their End of a Contract
It is 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night and I’ve just ended a contract with a new freelance client without one iota of work being done for that contract. I am forfeiting the lost money and the lost time, graciously.
The client began flaking on their end of the contract and, rather than suffer headaches and even more wasted time and lost money, I told the client we needed to part ways. Or rather, I called them out on not fulfilling their end of the contract, they threatened to end the contract and then I did it for them.
Unfortunately, while not common, this is something that occurs in the freelance world. Bad clients just exist.
What’s a freelancer to do when they’re not being treated well by a client?
The very first thing you need to do is what I did above. Go back and look at what you agreed to before accepting the work and see who may possibly not be fulfilling their end of the deal.
In my case, the client agreed to provide certain deliverables needed for me to work on their project (and I even told them I would give them a reduced rate if they provided those deliverables). They failed to do so and asked me to do extra work to make up for the fact (for free…on top of the already reduced rate).
Do you have proof the client isn’t upholding their end of things? Show them.
Some clients will see the error of their ways, you can smooth things over and go on. Others will not.
So then what do I do when my client tells me to kick rocks?
Weigh your options. Is this something you want to get into a legal battle over? (If it’s something like a client not paying invoices on time, you may be able to pay very little cash, go to small claims court and get things settled.)
If it’s not worth it, though — run, baby, run, and never look back.
But I need clients, don’t I? What will I do if I can’t find a new client?
You can always find new clients. Always. So long as you’re a good freelancer, clients will need you. Don’t worry about finding a replacement client. They’re out there. You may have to go searching for them, but they’re there.
Okay, but what if I’m the bad guy? What if I didn’t hold up my end of the freelance contract?
Ask for forgiveness! Grovel! Beg!
If you’re a freelancer who’s in the wrong, own up to it. Offer a refund, free work, whatever you think the wrong warrants.
If you’re a client who’s in the wrong, again, own up to it. Offer to pay the freelancer for their time lost, write them a good review and then, well, kick rocks, because they probably won’t want to work with you again. And then resolve to be a better client in the future or, consider the fact that having freelancers on your team might not be a good idea in your case.