How to not get SCAMMED as a FREELANCER Programmer

Written By John Sonmez

Today, I'm gonna do a real quick video today to tell you about how not to be scammed as a freelancer as a programmer because you might be doing some side jobs.

It's a really dangerous situation in terms of wasting your time.

I've been scammed myself, I've been not paid for things and it's just a real hassle.

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Transcript Of The Video:

John Sonmez: What's up guys? John Sonmez here from So I'm going to do a real quick video today. I want to tell you about how not to be scammed as a freelancer, as a programmer, because you might be doing some side jobs. It's a really dangerous situation in terms of your wasting of time. I've been scammed myself. I've been not paid for things and it's just a real pain, real hassle.

So if you guys are just joining me for the first time, I'm John from On this channel, I teach you how to be the programmer that you want to be. I teach you the soft skills that you need in order to succeed in your career to climb that ladder and to become a better, maybe not better but a well adjusted human being. I un-nerd people. They call me the nerd whisper. So I'll make you less of a nerd and more of a cool guy.

Also, you should get my book, The Complete Software Developer Career Guide because that's pretty damn cool. This thing is cool to carry around. You carry this around, chicks will be just crawling all over you. You'll be un-nerded in no time. So go check it out on Amazon, click on subscribe button, join us.

So let's talk about this. How do I protect myself from being scammed? Lexi asked me this question. She said, “My question for you is, I'm a new web developer and I've started freelancing for a company for about three months and it was a total bust. I got scammed out of $8,000 worth of work. Now my friends and family tell me that it's my fault for not leaving as soon as I didn't receive my first paycheck. But I'm a gullible person, always believing in the good. What should I do to make sure I don't get scammed in the future if I do decide to keep on freelancing?”

So here's the simple thing that I do is, I always work on a retainer, just like a lawyer does because a lawyer ain't going to get screwed. So you should always do what lawyers do because lawyers are smart. They know. And they can actually sue you very easily, yet they still work on a retainer. Why? Why, why why? Because people don't pay their invoices. See, I won't lift a finger to do something for you until you've paid me. Once you've paid me, I will get to work. But until you pay me, I ain't doing shit. That's right. I ain't doing shit. Now, I've had situations where I had some freelancing work and a company said, “That's not how we work. We pay you after you do the work.” And I said, “Haha. That's not how I work. I like to get paid.” And they were like, “Well, you know…” And I'm like, “Well, you're not worth the trouble. Sorry.”

I'm not going to take a job where I risk not getting paid or where you do some kind of net 90 invoice and you play games with payroll. I've done all that. I did that, guys. I did that before. So you're going to turn down some business, but you just have to explain it in a very simple way. Just say this, if someone wants to do business with you, say, “Look, here's the way that I operate. I work on a retainer, so it will cost you. Whatever our estimated work is for one week, I need you to pay that in advance as a retainer and then I will bill towards that time, what you've already paid. This is advantageous to you because you don't have to worry about paying me or me going over budget or sending you a higher bill than what you expect. If I'm going to go over a budget, I would tell you, and then you could decide if you wanted to pay more or not. But I'm only going to work as much as you've paid. It works for me. I don't have to worry about bugging you about invoices. I can be pretty annoying when it comes to that, and it works for you because you know you're going to get this work done and you know what the price is going to be.”

So that's one way of saying it. You could say it a lot of different ways, whatever you want to come up with, but you have to have some guts and you have to be able to turn down work and I've turned down work before, because I know that chasing invoices isn't worth it. And if someone does not pay you, they're done. That's it. You don't have time in your life to deal with people who don't pay. If they don't pay, that's it. You cut them off and they're no longer a client. It's as simple as that.

This is real short, real simple video. Hopefully you guys get the message here, but if you haven't been stiffed for eight grand, you're not going to understand what it's like. But if you have, then you know that you have to go down this road, you have to require a retainer and unless it's someone that you've worked with for a long time before, that's a totally different thing. But you can just explain, you can just say, “Hey, look, a lot of times people don't pay me. I know that you're not probably going to do that, but again, we don't have a history. You can pay me a retainer and then after some period of time, if everything is going well, then we can go to an invoice system.”

I wouldn't even recommend that, honestly, just get people used to paying a retainer. I do a lot of business. I bill over $250,000 a year on retainer right now, just on freelance type of business, type of work. So people pay it. You just got to put your foot down and say that's what you require if you want to get paid. Otherwise you're going to be chasing invoices. You're going to be chasing deadbeats and you're going to be wasting a lot of time. All right, guys. Like I said, if you haven't already, go pick up the book. This talks about freelancing, has some freelancing advice in here as well. I will talk to you next time.