What do I do if my freelancer’s gone AWOL?

Your follow-up email didn’t get answered. Neither did the follow-up to the follow-up. As time creeps on, you start to feel like you must have done something wrong. Maybe the editor doesn’t like your post. Maybe they’ll never speak to you again. Maybe you won’t get paid, either.

The tension’s killing you. All you want to know is what happened?pexels-photo-large

And right now, only your editor knows the answer. But they’re not talking –at least, not to you– so it’s up to you to find out. Here’s how to cope when your freelancer goes AWOL:

Check for signs of life

Check to see if the freelancer is tweeting or posting on Facebook regularly. If they’re posting fresh updates, then they’re still out there somewhere within reach of an internet connection.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have they changed email addresses? – do you get any auto response emails like “we’ve received your message and will get back to you”, or do you just get dead silence?
  • Not to be condescending, but have you double-checked the spelling of the email address?
  • If your emails have been caught by a spam filter, might they not have seen your emails?

Connect on a different medium

I’m praying to all the gods that you get full contact information for all your clients as soon as you start discussing a project. If you already did, great! Pick up the phone and give them a call.

But if you didn’t, Google is your friend. Try to get a phone number for your editor, or for someone –anyone!– in the same company who might be able to tell you the best number to use.

If you can’t find any phone numbers, or you’re simply too chicken to use them, search out any other way you can contact your editor:

  • LinkedIn is good. Connect with your editor if you haven’t already, and send them a message.
  • A second email address might help, but it might be one that’s rarely checked, so don’t rely on it to save the day.
  • Facebook, Twitter and Google+ aren’t so useful because you have to either send a public message (which isn’t professional unless you word it *very* tactfully) or send it privately and risk it never being seen (a lot of people, including me, don’t check their private messages on social networks very often).
  • Snail mail isn’t dead yet. Some people pay more attention to a piece of paper in an envelope than they do to email, so it’s worth trying if you’ve got a postal address for your editor.

Forget Emotions and Follow Facts

Don’t give up straight away just because your follow ups were ignored.

Ask a ‘no’ question

It might seem counter-intuitive but asking a questions which forces them to answer with a ‘no’ can be a really effective way to get a response.

Get someone to fight your corner.

When all else fails get someone to fight your corner and contact the freelancer on your behalf.

Move on

Although you should be persistent you also shouldn’t wait for a response forever. Then you need to start looking for another freelancer to complete the project. Even if it’s not an urgent project, don’t let them going AWOL put you off finding a freelancer to complete the project.


Joe Scarffe

Joe Scarffe

Joe is the CMO at Twine.

When he’s not moaning about the state of the music industry or public transport in Manchester, he works with the Twine community and handles social media, the blog and partnerships with companies and institutions.

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