As a Freelancer, How Do You Know a Potential Buyer is Genuine?

Last week, we looked at how to determine whether a freelancer is trustworthy—and ways to demonstrate credibility as a freelancer. But on the other side of the coin, freelancers need to determine whether their potential buyer is genuine and trustworthy. After all, you don’t want to deliver the work only to find the client has disappeared off the face of the planet! A recent PayPal survey found that 60% of freelancers report not being paid for the work at some point. So let’s take a look at how to ensure your buyer is trustworthy.

Method #1 Freelancer feedback:

Just like the client will read your reviews before hiring you, it’s vital to check out any feedback on the client, especially from freelancers they’ve worked with in the past. On most freelancing platforms, you can see feedback about the client from their previous projects. On some sites, such as PeoplePerHour, you can even access the reviews they’ve left about other freelancers. If your potential client has terrible or average feedback from freelancers, or has left lots of bad reviews for other freelancers, then it’s best to avoid them.

Method #2 Work through escrow:

One of the major worries in freelancing is not getting paid for your work. If you work via freelancing websites, the client pays the money into an “escrow” (holding) account, and the website looks after it until the work has been delivered. When you finish the work, you send the invoice via the site, and your earnings are released to you. It’s safer for both sides, as the money is protected by an impartial third party.

Method #3 Get a deposit:

If you’re working with a client outside of freelancing platforms (i.e. private clients), then you can request a deposit from them—or even request the full payment in advance, though they may not agree to this, because they also have no guarantee that you’ll actually deliver the work. If they’re wary about paying you before the work is delivered, you can invite them to work with you via a freelancing site, meaning you can use the site’s escrow facility. Some sites even waive their normal fees because you’re bringing a new client onto their site.

Method #4 Terms of business:

Another worry is that the client will change their requirements part-way through the project. As such, for any client you work with (private or through a freelancing site), you should provide them with a terms of business document. Detail the terms of your service, the delivery, scope, price, and payment—and ask them to sign it to confirm their acceptance. If they’re not willing to sign, then walk away.

Method #5 Personal recommendation:

When you work with private clients—even with a terms of business agreement in place—there’s always a risk that something might go wrong or you might not get paid. As such, you may decide to only accept private clients who are recommended by someone you trust. That way, you have some guarantee that they’re genuine and somebody to chase if they don’t pay up.

Method #6 Do your research:

Do your research on the client beforehand, especially if they say they work for an organisation. With private clients, try to get contact details from them, such as a number and personal email address, so you can chase them if they suddenly disappear. If you’re working through a freelancing site, sharing contact details is often prohibited, but if you encounter problems with the buyer, get in touch with the site’s support team, who should be able to help.

Got any other ways to figure out whether your potential buyers are genuine?? Comment below or get in touch.

In our next article, we’ll look at whether freelancers should ever work for free, so stay tuned.

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