Freelancing gives you the flexibility to work at your own pace. While it feels great to be your own boss, it’s not always a walk in the park. You may struggle with difficult clients, late payments, and missed deadlines. Truth is, being a freelancer means being a problem solver. There’s no boss or coworker who will help you solve issues that come up.
So, how to handle the spooky scenarios that come with freelancing? In this article, you'll learn how to overcome freelancer problems and freelancer mistakes.
If clients forget to pay the invoice on the set due date, simply follow up and resend the invoice. This may work in some instances, but sometimes, some clients still won’t budge.
In this case, the next step is to send a debt collection letter. This formal reminder usually includes the due date for the payment and accepted payment methods. You can also place a warning with the actions you'll take when you don’t get paid, such as a court claim. However, this course of action may lead to high legal costs and unpaid claims.
A good alternative is to join the Federation of Small Businesses, which can help you chase your debts with ‘no collection or no fee' services. You can also consult a lawyer to find out the best options for chasing debts in your state or country.
No matter how hard you try to stick to a schedule, you could still end up missing your deadlines. Life is unpredictable, so illness, family emergencies, and special circumstances may hinder you from submitting a project on time. Not giving the client a heads-up before the due date is a wrong move to make. It’s best to communicate potential delays as early as possible.
Even if it’s vague, offer an explanation in lieu of missing the deadline. You can say something like, “We agreed that the project will be finished by the end of the week. Due to unexpected circumstances, I believe I’ll need a few more days to make sure that all your feedback is integrated so you can end up with the best possible output. Will this be alright with you?”
Alternatively, you can suggest a deadline or give clients the option to see the unfinished work, so they know you’re still on track. You can say, “So far, we’ve finished 80% of the prototype, but we need more time to add in XYZ features for testing. Would you like to see what we’ve worked on so far? I believe that we’ll be able to complete the entire project by Wednesday at the latest.”
Imagine spending hours on a freelance project only to end up with a dissatisfied client. The negative feedback may be a blow to your pride, but it’s not the end of the world.
Just stay calm and figure out your clients’ issues with your output. Ask straightforward questions such as “What did you not like about the deliverable?”, “What can I do better?”, or “Can you give me your comments and suggestions so that I can come up with a project that suits your expectations?”.
Once you know your client's preferences, it’s easier to come up with an output that meets their expectations. Don’t be afraid of a little bit of criticism during the process. Also, keep communication channels open, so all relevant parties are on the same page.
If you lost your work because the computer crashed and you had no backups, then only you can take the blame. The best course of action is to come clean and admit your mistakes. To assuage the fear of clients, come up with a plan of action to recover the lost data or to re-do the work in progress.
If you get paid per hour, then it might be impossible to ask clients to pay you to recover your lost work in progress. After all, it’s not their fault. Take this negative experience as a reminder to always back up your files. Keep everything important on a hard drive or another storage device on a regular basis.
Getting a notice from the IRS can be a nightmare for freelancers. Self-employed professionals with receipts of more than $100,000 are 6x to 8x more likely to be audited. This is because freelance income fluctuates, and tax returns can vary from year to year for freelancers. If you score a big contract, then that could be a big red flag from the IRS.
Rest assured, a tax audit is not the end of the world. It’s always best to keep records of your invoices and tax returns. Keep a record of tax deductions for work expenses, meals, and travel. Create an account for your freelance business for clean-cut records and to avoid audits.
Better yet, hire a professional accountant to file your tax returns. Know the required tax forms and self-employment taxes so you won't be caught unawares.
In the age of virtual meetings, embarrassing moments may seem inevitable. Technical errors could lead your screen to freeze or turn black. Other times, children or family members could interrupt your Zoom call.
Chances are, these awkward situations could turn your face beet red. The most important thing is to calm down and stay positive. Rather than ignoring the embarrassing situation, embrace the awkward.
Let’s say your kids come knocking on your door to interrupt your Zoom call. Acknowledge the situation and apologize for the interruption. You can say something like, “Sorry, folks. My toddler just needed help to go to the bathroom.” If you say it in a lighthearted tone, your clients may laugh with you. If you fall apart and let the awkwardness define your meeting, it’ll be difficult to establish rapport with your clients.
At the start, some clients may seem very nice. As time goes on, you may realize you don’t have the chemistry to work together in the long run because they’re a nightmare to work with. How to handle these types of situations?
Most nightmare clients are not clear about their needs which can feel frustrating. They may also have a low budget and high expectations. If you see these red flags, review the scope of your contract.
For example, freelance writers can limit the number of revisions to two times. Once an unsatisfied client keeps asking for more revisions, then remind them of the scope of your contract. If they want you to do more, then feel free to negotiate the rate for your project. Consider increasing your fees based on the scope of the work and the number of revisions that they require.
When all else fails, the last resort is to walk away from the project and client altogether. Send a polite notice to terminate the relationship in a diplomatic way. For example, you can say, “Due to the delays in content creation, I don’t think we’ll be a good fit for each other.”
What happens when work stops coming your way? Even two weeks without enough work could make it hard for you to pay the bills. To prevent this spooky scenario, make sure to keep networking and marketing your business. Send follow-up letters to clients to remind them that you’re still available for work.
Here’s a template that you can use:
Hello Client XYZ,
It’s me (insert freelancer name). I hope your business is doing well! In the past year, I created XYZ projects which lead to XYZ results.
I’m available this month for some more projects, and I would love to work with you again. Do you have any projects or run-off tasks that I can assist you with? I’m here to help in any way I can, so let me know!
I look forward to hearing from you.
(insert freelancer name)
Another option is to join freelance groups online to meet fellow professionals. Some freelancers actively look for other professionals when they no longer have the capacity to accept more work. As such, it’s good to be on their radar.
Facing spooky scenarios can seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Most clients are not unreasonable, so you can overcome freelancer problems with good communication. Just explain your side of the story and offer solutions to resolve the issue without a lot of drama.