You’ve decided to launch a business, product or event. You’re amped (excited) to finally start working with a designer you found/who was recommended to you. You get started and everything seems fine. But as it comes closer to the time you need everything done, you can’t find your designer. They don’t return your calls, texts, emails or DMs. They may or may not have disappeared from social media, or you may find yourself blocked. Whatever the method or reason, you’ve been ghosted by the service provider your hired. For the purpose of the post we’re going to assume that (a) designer is interchangeable for any freelance service provider; and (b) you have paid at the very least a deposit to start service. So let’s explore some of these reasons…
1. The project and project goals have not been clearly defined.
A successful project has clear direction, no matter the size. When you’re unclear about what you want, you’re unable to relay that to your designer and things like, “it needs more oomph” are said, eyes are rolled and 50leven revisions are requested.
Fix: get clear on what you want – the end result, goals, your audience – then tell your designer that up front.
2. The scope of the project changes every 18-24 hours
Project scope is made up of a project’s details: the who, what, when, where and why. Whenever you make a change to a component of scope, you change the time or cost. Scope changes are almost always a direct result of not being clear on needs.
Fix: be clear on what your project needs, and be prepared to wait and/or pay extra for changes that are not included in your initial quote or contract.
3. Boundaries and instructions are ignored
Business hours ignored. Submission deadlines missed. Texting or DMs instead of email. Sending a check instead of paying electronically, and doing so before confirming that’s okay. Inappropriate communication. The reasons vary but the result is almost always the same – #byefelecia!
Fix: there’s always a reason for the boundaries and instructions your designer sets. Seek to understand why before doing the complete opposite. Remember that each designer has their own way of operating, and, for the most part, while working with them it should be respected.
4. Invoices are not paid on time
Fix: pay on time. Orrrrr let them know when you’ll be able to pay, then be prepared to wait.
5. You micromanage
Here’s the thing – your freelance designer is not your employee. And hovering is horrible for creativity.
Fix: let the person you hired do their job.
6. Due diligence was skipped
You should totally do your research then still be cautious while building a relationship. Sure, some projects are smaller than others, but how a designer treats you and your small projects is definitely a measuring stick for how they’ll treat you and a larger project.
Fix: don’t ignore your intuition or horrible communication in the beginning.
7. Back like you never left
This one always stumps me. Working on a project then the client stops responding. All of a sudden – weeks, months, years later – they show up like the last time yall talked was less than 24 hours ago. I don’t know a designer, publicist or other freelance service provider that has been in business over two years who hasn’t had this happen at least once. The reasons vary – busy at work, illness, accident, other life priorities – and that’s understandable. What is helpful, though, is that a quick text or email to say “I need to disappear for a minute” or similar.
Fix: say something as soon as you are able, but understand you may (will) wait as long as you were gone to get put back on the schedule. And if there was a balance due when you disappeared, that will have to be taken care of first.
Honorable mention: You ended up with a designer who’s horrible at business/working with clients, and they really don’t care.
Some folk are just shady and slick in sales, even after you research them and their portfolios. There really isn’t a fix or way to avoid them, and for that I am sorry. While the next person may understand and be empathetic, please understand that they probably are not going to adjust their rate due to the unscrupulous actions of someone else. That’s like expecting to return a Coach bag to the Louis Vuitton store for cash.
Feeling like you got burned is never pleasant. When it comes to hiring a freelancer or agency to carry out the grunt work of your project, clarity pays a huge part in lessening the chances of being ghosted. As a client it’s not always your fault. Newer providers may ghost you because they are “not being paid enough for this bullshit” which could refer to the number of requested revisions, change in scope or lack of boundaries. I’ll address that with them so that we can all live, work and create harmoniously.