When someone contacts me to arrange for a date, I make sure I give them a personalised answer. Even after that, I cannot be one hundred percent sure the encounter will actually take place until I'm physically in front of that person.
Sometimes, even though the client might want to meet, he might have to cancel a few days in advance or even on the same day. I also know what it feels like to be stood up after getting ready for a date. They might have given you false information, they might not take you seriously or they just want to play you for a fool. So, no matter how much information a prospective client can give me, that doesn't guarantee the job.
When I arrange our date, I'm prioritising that possible client over any other client who might also want to meet that day. I, sometimes, postpone or cancel my own plans in order to give that person absolute priority.
So, if when the time comes, that person fails me, I'm left with nothing, both, professionally and personally. As you can imagine, it's very frustrating.
I can accept and understand people being wary about me or my services. However, by the same logic, it's understandable that I also can be wary about possible clients.
In order to mitigate this distrust as much as possible on my part, I use my website and social networks to expose myself and to keep an updated and active profile. I often post on my blog so that you can get to know me a bit better, too. Besides, I'm asked to confirm my identity in most of the websites where I advertise my services. I am a real person who is not interested at all in wasting her time or anybody else's. I offer seriousness and commitment and I ask for the same in return.
Having said this, I ask for a deposit specially to new clients.
This deposit shows commitment on the client's part and guarantees my availability for the day we agree upon. If, for whatever reason, the client needs to postpone our date, we would reschedule and the client wouldn't lose the deposit, we would keep it for next time.
I didn't take this decision lightly or on a whim. This comes from experience. Over time I've realised this works well for me. And above all, I value my safety and my peace of mind.