We have been working with few freelancers lately and one of the few things they cautioned about is dealing with non-complying clients and payment delays. In the freelancing space it happens often that people don’t get paid for the work performed and rises mostly because freelancers don’t take enough precautions and don’t follow a procedure.
We have asked few seasoned freelancers and entrepreneurs for their advice on this matter and here is a list of their recommendations.
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Have a deal and lock it
When you on board a client and you both agree to work together, lock it. Sign a paper or agreement or whatever.
This is important even before submitting any sample to your client. It happens with many freelancers that initially clients decline to accept none of the samples one submits and decline to pay and work together only to use one of the designs they declined for free. This is specifically true for creative folks. So be careful. Done deal? Lock it.
Make your agreement clear and set your terms properly
Now you have a done deal and you need to put the terms on paper, make sure you do it properly. Be specific, ask questions if you need explanation for anything, be open, and set things in black and white. This is critical because often times it creates problems. So state clearly when is the start time of your project, when is the deadline, how much are you going to get for per hour, when you will submit draft, how many samples you will provide, who will own the copyright of your works and samples, and more.
If you don’t understand any point that your client is putting in, ask for clarification. Asking questions when you have nothing to lose is critical when you have your pay at stake.
Know about the deliverables and the acceptable format to submit your deliverables. Know who to communicate for approval and when and how. Know about the approval process and get it right.
Payment terms: start with a down payment
Set your payment terms straight. If you are in creative industry, start with a down payment. Many of the graphic design freelancers we spoke with said, they often don’t get paid for their work when they start it without setting a payment term or without taking a down payment. The advantage with down payment is that there is no chance the client could get away without paying. Then and gain, set other stages of payment straight: when are you going to get rest of the payment, how it will be paid, how long it takes your client to process a bill etc.
Feedback and adjustments
How are you going to work on feedback of your clients and making adjustments to your work. How many times you will take feedback and fix it? What will happen after a certain time? You can add hourly rate for extra ad-hoc work and extra adjustments other than agreed one, that way it will save you time and money as well.
Communication and availability
This often becomes a problem since most of the time you and your client sit in different time zones. Set your communication straight: who is the main responsible person on your client end, what is the best medium to communicate, and if there is a particular time for communication. Pre-plan all these things ahead.
Working on your availability is important because it will put a bar on expectation and will also set you free for other assignments.