Yes, I’m aware of the date. No, this post is not a joke. In fact, it’s as serious as they come.
I couldn’t resist doing a post about “fools” on April Fool’s Day. After all, there are so many ways clients can make fools out of us freelance bloggers.
Sometimes we play the fool when a client refuses to pay. Other times, we’ll be made a fool when a client keeps piling on work that we didn’t sign on for. Or maybe, you’re that sad fool whose had the misfortune of working for an abusive client? Ah, yes… the saddest fool of all, perhaps.
Well, it’s time to take a cue from Cinderella and become “Nobody’s Fool.” (Feel free to play that song in the background while you read this to get in the proper mindset).
The Client Who Makes You a Fool by Not Paying
This is one of the most common ways a client can make a fool out of a freelance blogger. It happens, on occasion, to even the best, most established freelance bloggers. It’s nothing to be ashamed of… but it is irritating as all get out.
The first step is not to panic, or let rage consume you. You absolutely must stay calm.
From there, try resending your invoice, with a little reminder that it’s past due.
Still no response? Then it’s time to send your client a carefully-worded e-mail about the situation.
Try something like:
I just wanted to check in and make sure everything’s okay. Last I heard, you were pleased with the final draft I sent in, and needed no changes.
As it states in our contract, I’m supposed to receive my payment after the final draft has been turned in. I’ve already sent you an invoice, but I have yet to receive payment.
If there’s an issue, please let me know. If your budget is strained, we can work out a payment plan. Or, if you simply need a few more days, please inform me of when you will be paying me so I can make adjustments accordingly.
This does three things:
- It reminds the client that you turned in your work on time and they were pleased. (Pay up!)
- It reminds them that they have a legal contract to abide. (Pay up!)
- It shows that you’re willing to work with them, and their budget, but you’re not going to let the issue go. (Pay up!)
Usually, an e-mail like this does the trick. I’d say a good 90 percent of the time, you won’t have to take any further actions.
However, if your client is among the 10 percent of the population that’s just a total buttmunch and they STILL refuse to pay you, you’ll have to send them another e-mail warning them that you’re going to start charging a late fee (2 percent is the standard) for each day that goes by where you still don’t have your money.
If friendly e-mail reminders and threats of late fees still don’t scare them into paying up, then you’re going to have to get gnarly.
Let the client know that if they refuse to pay up, you’re going to take to social media and put them on blast – letting all the other freelance bloggers in your network, along with any potential customers they have, know that they’re going against their contract and refusing to pay you.
Don’t swear or be unprofessional. Simply let them know that you’re going to call them out on their actions publicly. Then, if they still refuse to comply: Do so.
Again, remain professional. Take to social media and share the FACTS of the situation (not your feelings). Let everyone know that [insert client/company name here] refused to pay you for your work. Don’t call them names, don’t use crass adjectives – just report the facts. They’re in the wrong, and you have nothing to feel ashamed of. Just be professional and warn others to stay away.
The ONE time I had to do this, the client paid up mere hours later, begging for me to take down the post I’d made. I didn’t take the post down, as I knew I wasn’t the only writer in their stable whom they’d refused to pay; however, I did make a follow-up post to let the public know that they’d come through.
If none of that works, then, sadly, you’ll likely just have to eat the cost and move on with your life – vowing not to be anyone’s fool the next time around.
Small claims court generally isn’t a great idea for freelance bloggers. Unless the client owes you thousands of dollars (and I’m talking $15,000 or more here!), then the cost of lawyers and other lawsuit charges will end up wasting more money than you stand to gain.
The Client Who Makes You a Fool with Too Much Work
When a client has “one more thing” to add to your pile of work, it’s generally not a problem. However, when a client “one more thing”s you to DEATH, that’s called “scope creep,” and it’s a huge issue.
In this case, the best offense is a good defense. You (hopefully) have a contract that outlines exactly what you’re supposed to be doing: Stick to it.
If a client asks you to do anything outside of your contract, refer them back to the contract terms.
If, however, you make the mistake of doing “one more thing” and one more things becomes MANY more things, and your workload gets out of control, then it’s time to write your client an e-mail reminder of the contract terms.
Let them know that you don’t mind doing the occasional favor, but if extra work is going to be an ongoing thing, then you’re going to need to renegotiate your contract – and ask for more money.
Or, if what they’re asking for is ridiculous, and you know you can’t successfully complete everything (even with more money), then let them know. Be firm and tell them your limits.
The Client Who Makes You a Fool by Abusing You
Does your client constantly call you names? Swear at you? Demean you and your work?
It’s really that simple. I’m sorry if you expected more.
First of all: YOU aren’t the fool – they are. Always keep that in mind.
If a client is acting unprofessionally and abusing you, you do NOT have to put up with them. You’re a freelancer. You’re your own boss. There will be plenty of other clients to take their place.
Keep your cool, and remain professional. Let the client know that you do not appreciate how they’ve been treating you, and that you will no longer be working for them after they pay you for your most recent work. Bam! That’s it.
Get yourself out of the abusive relationship, and find work elsewhere.
There will always be jobs for freelance bloggers. Nearly every company in America, and most companies in the Western world in general, has a blog on their website now. And they NEED writers like you are to work with them.
That’s one of the greatest things about freelance blogging: There are so many clients to choose from! There’s no reason for you to become ANYONE’s fool.
So, what do you think? Did I miss any “fool”-making situations when I wrote this that should have been covered? Let me know in the comments!