Monday, June 21, 2010

In Freelancing, Can You Trust Anyone?

Once, when I had been in business for only a little over a year, I had a client I had worked with several times hire me for a small writing assignment. “No need for a contract,” the client said before we started, “I’ll just send over a check right now.”

Ordinarily, I’d never work with anyone without a contract. But this client was someone I knew—she had been referred to me by a friend. And we’d worked together several times before without a hitch.

So I did the project, the client was happy, and I hadn’t gotten my check yet. No big deal—sometimes the mail can take a little while. But weeks went by, and my emails to the client went unanswered. I didn’t have a contract—so I had nothing to fall back on to get the person to pay.

The bottom line? You never really know anyone—and you can’t leave your business decisions up to trust, even if you’ve worked with the person before. You never know what kind of financial pressure someone is under these days—pressure that could lead them to stiff you when they never would have before. Who knows? Get a contract. Just in case.

4 comments:

Issa said...

Sad, but true. There are many freelance sites that offer mediation, or jobs without the need for written contracts. Trust is something one needs to earn and if you're working with a person you've only met online - you can either pray for divine intervention or do necessary preparations. It's all about choices and knowing the seven habits of becoming an effective freelancer that gets you paid.

Lori said...

Jen, if you have email proof that she contracted the work - by asking for it - you might be able to get compensated. I'd sure as hell push for it. Send out that last invoice with this on it: "Please pay within 10 days to avoid litigation." You'd be surprised how well that works. And plan to file in small claims court if she doesn't pay. Never threaten what you're unwilling to back up with action, I say.

DJ said...

i agree with Lori. completely. you also have, through your blog, the chance to identify the deadbeat publicly. But once again, don't threaten (intimate would be the way i'd prefer to state it, or simply state it as the next step as a kind of fyi) anything you have any doubt about following through on.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. in my case I was attack using my personal life issues. see how unprofessional it is