I think I have got scammed. Let me tell you my story.
I am trying to make a steady monthly income by freelance writing. I gather clients by either contacting them via their websites (I search mainly for websites where there is a page "Write for Us" or similar page to make sure the search will include people who are looking for writers) and I also make money on the freelancer site Upwork (previously known as Odesk which merged with Elance and is now known as Upwork).
I consider Upwork to be a quality website. Their representatives have always been helpful to me and answered all questions I had. I have not had any disputes on Upwork with clients yet but I know that once a client has awarded me a job and they have transferred funds into escrow for the project, there is no way for them to receive the money back without my approval. I think this makes Upwork safe because there is no way I could do work for the client without getting paid.
However, because I also work outside of Upwork, I sometimes find a client who pays me via Paypal. I found such a client about half a year ago. I was sending her articles almost daily and she always paid me on time. Then I send her one large one (it could almost be considered a book) and she has not paid me for it. She owes me about $300 which kind of sucks. I have notified her multiple times that I'd like to be paid for the piece and got no word from her.
I wonder if there is a way to enforce the payment and make sure I get paid for the work I have already given to her. Do you know of any such way? By the way, she was from Singapore and I am in Europe.
Also, about one week ago I got in touch with a client and we've been chatting on Skype. He would always send me assignments for articles and I would write them for him. We agreed he would pay me every other day for the work done in the previous two days. I welcomed this offer. So I worked for him for two days straight. During these 2 days, I wrote a lot of articles for him and made about $350 according to the rate we agreed on. I have sent him an invoice about three days ago and he still has not paid. That is despite the act that at the beginning he mentioned the exact time (3 pm EST) when he would pay me. The time went by without any payment.
I asked him on Skype, politely first, and he said he had connection problems and he was unable to open his Firefox browser, therefore he was not able to make the payment. I told him he should try to download Google Chrome through Internet Explorer if he was unable to run Firefox. He said he would call an IT guy in the morning.
Since then I have contacted him multiple times and he won't even answer me now. I'm kind of screwed. Is there a way to get the money from him for the work I've done?
Now I have read other "got scammed" threads here on the WF. I know some people ended up in a much worse situation than myself because they actually lost money during the process of getting scammed. The only thing I lost is time for the work I did for the clients without getting paid. Time is very important to me but I will get over it. It was just a few days worth of work anyways.
However, I would like to ask you guys if you have some tips you could share with me on:
1) How (and where) it is a good idea to search for clients for my freelance writing business,
2) Whether there is a way to enforce justifiable payments through Paypal once I have created the invoice and the client still has not paid me.
3) Whether you know of a safer and more efficient way to get paid as a freelancer other than Paypal. I know Upwork is safe but as I already mentioned, I am also seeking clients outside of that platform so would like to know of a better payment processor than Paypal.