How to avoid frauds and cheap clients while freelancing

Freelancing is one of the best ways to make someones living. I’m a full-time freelance web developer for two years now. During last two years, I have learned a lot. Learned a lot about freelancing itself, technologies, financial management & most importantly about clients.

Freelancing or any business client is the most important person. Because that’s how any business earn money right? There is a saying “Client always right”. So making the client happy increases revenue and ultimately drag the company or individual to the road of success.

There are lots of versions of clients. Genuine decent clients, cheap clients, and frauds. So far I met all of them I bet you will do the same. Genuine clients are great. They are decent, they pay on time and there is no problem with them at all. Cheap clients on the other hand always need more work for less money, always bargaining, always complaining, unreliable and have to put an effort to get our money. And finally the frauds, as the name implies they will try to get their work done without paying.

Personally, I always avoid both cheap clients and frauds. They are no good to us anyway. I suppose you should do the same. In this article, I describe my way of avoiding those unwanted fellows.

Freeze the requirements.

Identify what the client wants and clearly describe what you are going to build for him. Make some project proposal describing everything. This way you can avoid extra development which cost you both time and money. If the client wants some major changes in the middle of the project, you can charge extra, since new requirements are out of the project proposal scope.

Request an advance payment to start work.

Requesting an advance payment before the project starts indicates that you are serious about the project. Usually, I take 30%~50% from project budget at the beginning depending on the project. If the project duration is long you may set milestones and inform the client how much you need when each milestone completed. Or you can ask a monthly payment during the project.

If the client is not happy to pay you at the beginning maybe he has some trust issues with you.It’s reasonable, right? the client doesn’t know you, you are a freelancer. But you can convince him to trust you. Probably during the initial discussions. Show some work samples, leverage your existing clients and your previous projects to make him confident about your work. Show him you are the best for his project. And most importantly be honest with him, don’t ever lie, don’t give a false timeline. It’s important to clearly describe your workflow during the initial discussion. So then he knows you are expecting an advance payment at the beginning.

If he is not going to pay an initial payment, kindly refuse the project. We don’t have a guarantee. If he isn’t paying now how can we sure he will pay later, right?

Do some background checks.

It’s a good idea to do a little background check on the client if you don’t know him. Thanks to Google and social media we can learn a lot about a person. Common sense comes in handy. If he is a fraud his previous activities will come up when you are browsing social media. Many people keep notes on social media or publish on their blogs when someone gave them a hard time.

Deploy the application on own server

This is a must if you not taking an advance payment. Don’t give away source code till you paid in full. If you want to show the product/website progress, set up a demo on your own server.Then it can be deployed on client’s server later. Make it password protected, so third parties can’t access it.

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Sign an agreement 

To be honest, some clients really don’t like to sign. But it’s a good move. Both parties can have leverage on each other legally. But if client prepares an agreement for you, it’s really important to read it many times and understand every word of it. Showing it to your attorney first is a great idea. And client asks you to prepare one, again meet your attorney.

Beware on “Freelance Platforms”

There are lots of Freelance platforms now. Upwork (Previously know as Odesk), Fiver, Freelancer, etc.. These platforms are great. Lot’s of competition. But great. I don’t have many experiences on these since my clients come either directly or via referees. Anyway, these platforms have taken lots of precautions to avoid frauds but human error, it can’t be fixed by a program. So, please read their guidelines. Some people try to trick freelancers telling “let’s do business directly, you don’t need to pay for them. Let’s do this outside of the platform”. Don’t fall into that. If you proceed, follow the guidelines I have mentioned earlier.

I know some people who work directly with overseas clients they met via freelance platforms. But they did some projects first. Once both sides gained each other’s trust then they started to work directly.

That’s it for now. What I’m missing? Leave a comment below 🙂 . Have a great day.

Cover Photo Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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