A reader once asked me how long she should wait for a freelance client to give her work again before ending their oDesk contract. As you probably would guess, there isn’t a right answer. It depends on the freelance client, on the type of project and what’s your agreement with that particular client.
If the oDesk contract is on an “as needed” basis
Having an open oDesk contract without frequent assignments is a practice on most freelance job boards. It’s convenient for the freelance client as it allows them to have a direct line of communication with the freelancer. They don’t need to re-negotiate payment schedule or any other details. Instead of posting a new job post and going through interviews every time they need a task done, they just ping the freelancer with whom they have a contract.
In such case, I wouldn’t end the oDesk contract regardless the time passed. But I would periodically send a ‘touch base’ e-mail. Here’s an example:
I am planning my time for the coming weeks and I was wondering if you have any work planned for me? Let me know so I can block some time for you on my calendar.
Upon receiving my email, the freelance client might give a green light to whatever task they have in mind or the very least, they might give me some information about it. If they don’t have any tasks for me – that’s fine. If nothing else, my e-mail shows my commitment and wish for mutual work in the long run.
Don’t overdo it though – sending an email every 2-3 months for such ongoing projects is ok, unless you have any other specific agreement in the contract.
If the client has stopped communication in the middle of the oDesk contract execution
On one hand, you should wait – the client might have a good reason for their disappearance – e.g. an accident, unforeseen workload or crisis, etc. On the other hand, if you haven’t heard from them for months, it is highly recommended you take some steps toward ending the contract.
First, try to get in touch asking for feedback or an update – what’s up with them, will you continue working on the project, what’s the reason for the lack of communication on their end. If despite all your efforts you still don’t get a reply, let them know you will have to end the oDesk contract because such delay is breaching your initial agreement and it is causing you inconvenience (if that is true, of course).
Apparently, this happens a lot because oDesk introduced a policy for such cases. If you have an active contract and you don’t work on it for a month, it is automatically paused until the freelance client resumes it, or either party ends it.
Take into account how many dormant freelance projects you have and at what freelance rate.
If you have 10-15-20 active contracts displayed on your oDesk profile, it is better to end the inactive ones. Otherwise you risk missing on some opportunities. When a prospective client looks at your profile and sees so many open contracts, they might think you are too busy and you would not work at your best on their project.
Should you have only 1-2 active contracts though, you should definitely keep the dormant ones as well. Having a few open contracts on your profile makes a better first impression to prospective clients who just found you online
The latter is an especially good idea if the oDesk contract is at a higher rate than the rest of your contracts (active or not).This way you better leverage your prices – your soon-to-be clients would be expected to pay at least the price which your current clients pay.
What’s your take on dormant oDesk contracts – when is it time to end such contracts and why?
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