Chasing clients can be one of the trickiest + touchiest situations within the freelancing game. Just like with any typical contract, both parties are supposed to perform and communicate to the best of their abilities … but unfortunately, there are many instances where things get grey. For example, maybe your client goes silent for weeks on end without notice. Or maybe you’re having trouble collecting overdue payments. In situations like these ( and many more ), the common thread is simply a lack of communication. For whatever reason, one half of the party isn’t informing the other of what’s going on, which can be frustrating beyond belief. We’ve all been there! So what do you do?? Personally, I’ve found that the best plan of action is to be both patient + persistent. And above all, understanding + fair. Not only to yourself, but your client as well.
There’s two sides to every story here. You, the freelancer, are trying to run a successful business. You have schedules, deadlines, and things that need to happen in order to move forward. But both parties, however, also have a life. One that doesn’t stop for anything. And truthfully, there’s no telling what sort of road blocks, project related or not, will place themselves right within your timeline. That’s what makes things so difficult! Maybe your client had a sudden health scare in their family. Or maybe they had an unexpected expense come out of nowhere. You never know! As freelancers, our first reaction to silence is typically project related + negative. Things like “I haven’t heard from them for WEEKS! They must really hate what I’ve done and not want to move forward” cross our mind. But nine times out of ten, that’s just not the case. So instead of creating scenarios within your head, try getting to the bottom of it instead.
The first thing I like to do when I’ve been expecting to hear from a client is a simple check in if a week has passed. I’ll keep things short + friendly and remind them about whatever it is that I need from them to move forward. If I still don’t hear from them within the following week, I’ll do the same thing – but also remind them that our communication is imperative for completing deadlines on time. By spreading these reminders out, you’ll prevent yourself from getting TOO annoying, while still remaining fair to yourself. And usually, a few check ins does the trick. Once you hear back, you’ll be able to analyze the situation and respectfully discuss an updated timeline with your client.
If there’s ever a case where you don’t hear back from a client, after weeks and weeks of check ins, then it may be time to consider a more aggressive approach. Perhaps in the next check in, you explain how the lack of communication is affecting your business + schedule, and that if you don’t hear from them in “X” amount of days, the contract will need to be closed. Think of this as a last ditch effort to get their attention. Your client, after all, has invested time + money into this project and will most likely go out of their way to finally respond if you’ve clearly outlined what happens when a constant lack of communication occurs. But if they don’t — ask yourself if the chase is really worth it. Always keep your best interests at heart and realize that this end of the road type stuff rarely happens. I promise.