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I'm PM with a reasonable amount of experience, both in person and remote. This is my first time working as a freelancer and I'm struggling a bit. My main problem is communication I think. My client just ignores everything, because I think he's busy. At the same time I'm getting almost no work from him, and I'm struggling to make any forward progress because he won't even answer yes or no texts. Getting him on the phone is hit or miss as well.

It's especially frustrating because the first few weeks were fairly good, but the last 3 weeks have there has been no tasks, work, or communication from him. I don't know how to handle this. I've tried sending him very specific, single task emails which he rarely responds to. I've tried sending him weekly in review/upcoming emails which he's responded to once. I've tried setting meetings, but he'll just postpone them.

It's just that I'm out of ideas, and I feel like I'm missing something. I was just hoping for a new perspective, advice or anything.

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    Are you billing him for the hours you spend waiting for answers or to receive work? Is he paying those bills? It would also help to know what kind of project you are managing. Maybe the client expects you to manage without him. – Bogdan Jan 26 at 8:28
  • Have you asked your client how the client perceives the problem? How the client prefers to receive status information? Have you explained to the client the impact of the communications situation on the project's schedule/cost? – MCW Jan 26 at 9:56
  • No, I'm not. It's hourly for work done and sitting around waiting on him isn't really work. That's part of my frustration, I'm spending a lot of time on this, but not getting much money. – Ransomrin Jan 26 at 16:18
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First, you should think about how you can supplement communication with him by rather speaking to the CTO or tech leads. Please note that this way only covers the problem and does not solve it. But this is what I found effective at my work - I always think first if there is anybody lower in the "food chain" who can give me information/provide access/help, etc. It's just a good habit overall put less stress on the high heads.
Emailing is not the best idea because those emails just get missing forever in a long queue of messages. However it is very easy to trace down conversations and decisions in emails.
Writing to the chat I have found not very effective as well. People still treat chatting as something unofficial.
From my perspective, the best practice there could be is allocating time for calls and making those time slots recurring so that you could use them for communication with your client by arranging a call slightly in advance. You both agree not to use that time slot for any other planned activities so if there is a need to get on the line, there is always an opportunity. This will narrow down the range of excuses your client will have not to talk to you.
But all of it can have little impact unless you make sure your client understands that by hiring you it does not mean that he does not have to care about project management anymore. It is in his interest to collaborate with you so he could get better results and better return on his investments. It is "help me help you" rhetoric you should be using.
Also do not try to ask all of your questions in one go. I know that in a situation like you have, questions pile up rapidly. But asking all of them makes a person afraid of speaking to you because you always ask so many questions. Instead prioritize your questions using importance and urgency aspects and ask only the most important right now. Think about solutions in the long run, no this week.

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  • Yeah I'm trying to throttle the number of questions in one go, but it's on week 3 of him not really responding, so it's really starting to pile up. Scheduled calls are very hit or miss, unfortunately, but I'll try to get something set up. – Ransomrin Jan 26 at 16:22
  • Review the questions for each interaction with your client, do not just copy and paste the sum which has piled up. You will have to make tough decisions here what to throw out of the agenda. Try to speak to other people who can also supplement the interaction with the client just as I mentioned (CTO, tech leads and so on). And above all, make sure the client understands that he has to be committed, not just involved. Follow the analogy here: visual-paradigm.com/scrum/scrum-pig-and-chicken Good luck! If my main answer helps, please accept it. – chullspen Jan 27 at 9:19
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Try to use an email tracker, as it can clarify if the client has free time to respond. If this client continuously opens emails but doesn't respond it's a red flag that he/she isn't interested in a project.

Try to send emails with questions.

If a project scope has been specified I prefer to do it. In emails, I inform a client what is done, what will be done next, and if he/she has objections.

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  • This is essentially why I've been trying to do. Write out in an email. 'Done/updates this week' 'Pending things' 'To-do/Action Items' It never gets any response. – Ransomrin Jan 26 at 16:20

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