How freelance creatives can become ghosting-busters

Not paying the person during the period that they ‘ghosted’ you – in other words has been absent without notification or even a trace, is among the advice given to employers to tackle ghosting. It’s advice from law firm Peninsula.

But, asks Joseph Scott of the Knowledge Academy, what anti-ghosting advice is there for freelancers?

These self-employed workers can equally be ‘ghosted’ by prospective engagers, although unlike would-be applicants with permanent jobs eyeing other permanent jobs, they enjoy much fewer workplace protections and benefits.

Indeed, due to the sometimes infrequent and potentially unstable working pattern that freelancers and the self-employed must contend with, being ‘ghosted’ if you’re a one-person, independent business would be more directly impactful.

Ghosting: what we know about it in creative sectors

Firstly, it should be remembered and put into context just how prevalent ghosting is. Last year, Peninsula witnessed a 21 per cent surge in calls to the firm’s helpline from would-be engagers on the receiving end of ghosting from candidates. So it's more and more common for candidates to make all the right sounds at interview, potentially, and then leave the hiring manager in the lurch and totally disappearing.

The eagle-eyed will notice that this fact about ghosting from last year doesn’t give much sense of scale to the evidently growing problem of never hearing back and never hearing again. But from our work, we know that almost one in three workers – so almost one third – have experience of ghosting in the creative industries.

We’ve already outlined why we think ghosting is big in the creative industries. Now it’s time for us suggest what can be done in response or, more specifically, what steps you can take to reduce the risk of yourself falling victim to ghosting and seeing opportunities disappear before your very eyes! We’ve got four:

1. Establish a rapport early on.

The more personal and friendly an interaction or relationship with someone, the more remorse and guilt they would feel towards ghosting you! This advice is straight out of the dating world, where ‘ghosting’ as a concept was created.

2. Maintain your reputation

As with any freelancer trying to establish a name for themselves, keeping on top of your responsibilities is essential. Even when starting out, if a company/commissioner can see you’re on time and successful, they’re more likely to remember you and, importantly, less likely to ghost you in the future. This is always good news, especially if you can secure a regular contact for future work!

3. Be honest from the get-go

Honesty goes a long way in a partnership. Even if it means delivering bad news or turning down work, an individual would much rather you be honest with them. It means that they, and others, can trust you, and it by no means equals a loss in future work. If you’re honest, they’re also likely to be honest back. That means if some issue or snag does arise, instead of not telling you and dropping the potential contract, they’ll broach it with you and let you know.

4. Confirm specifics ASAP

With fewer strings attached, it’s easier for someone to simply walk away! Planning as much as you can before beginning a project (the brief, deadline, even price if possible) creates proof of the agreement. And this proof means it’s much more difficult for a party to avoid that agreement! Getting a deposit or part-payment up front is one step better; if they do walk away never to be seen again, you’ve effectively still been paid for your time and any initial work as a freelancer that you outlaid. Ghosting never proved so lucrative!


15th November 2019

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