• Ana Gascon Ivey

What to do when a client ghosts you

Ghosting is a freelancer's nightmare. I'm not talking about your last hot date from Match. I'm talking about a client you think is incredible — "a match made in heaven." Then just like that, they go MIA. They don't respond to your emails. They don't return your phone calls. "I thought we had something special," you lament.

Don't take it personally. If a client disappears, it's often an issue on their end, not yours. After all, clients are people, too, and sometimes life happens.

Remain professional in all of your communication and respond with the following strategies:

  • Send a question. Whether by phone or email, ask: "Could we finish chatting about that project tomorrow?" People often feel the need to answer a question.

  • Interact with the client on social media. Like or comment on a post. It will remind the client they owe you a response.

  • Reach out to another team member if your primary contact is unresponsive. Let her know you've tried the main contact, but have not heard back. Ask for an update on your work.

  • End the relationship. Tell the client you're moving their file to your inactive folder unless you hear otherwise. Let them know you'd love to revisit the project, but need to move forward with other clients and assignments.

  • Protect yourself from clients who don't pay. Draw up contracts with payment details spelled out clearly. Collect the full amount or a deposit up front. Don't turn in final drafts until you receive payment. (Learned this the hard way!)

If you think the client is worth it, send the occasional "nurturing" email to keep your name and services on their radar. If not, move on. Learn from the lack of communication and be prepared to spell out better follow-up expectations with future clients.