When I hear stories about freelancers not getting paid it makes me cringe. So today I want to talk to all of you freelancers about getting paid and how I go about it. I know asking for payment is really uncomfortable for a lot of freelance designers, photographers, crafters, etc. But here’s what I’ve learned – it’s only awkward if you make it so. Do you feel weird about handing over a copay when you go to the doctor? Do you feel funny when you pay your waiter for a meal you just enjoyed? No? Then you shouldn’t get all stressed out about asking for money for your services and talent.
I’ve written before about estimating & billing but here are a few more tips (or reminders) on how to get paid:
1. Your client is not the enemy. I think this is important to note first. I hear so many horror stories about designer / client-from-hell situations and it makes me as uncomfortable as witnessing that unhappily married couple that always bickers in public. A lot of this is about determining a good fit upfront (which I’ll get more into later). But basically, if your client likes you they’re going to want to pay you.
Sana and Kathleen: An example of a client / designer love-fest.
2. Work in flat fees. This way everyone knows what to expect. If a client can’t afford you then they know it upfront. I talk a lot about estimating and flat fees here.
3. Get a deposit before you even begin the project. I like to ask for 50%. This establishes a clear commitment between the designer and client.
4. Get your final payment prior to final file delivery or before you send anything to print. But make sure you receive final approval, in writing, on all work first.
5. Have an invoicing and estimating process and stick to it every single time. The more you estimate and invoice the easier it becomes to know what you’re worth and ask for payment.
6. Have a contract. Make expectations clear for what you and the client can expect. If you don’t have a contract you can A) make it up (it’s better than nothing), B) hire a lawyer or C) refer to a book – like this.
7. Be nice. If you aren’t getting paid sometimes it’s a simple miscommunication. A friendly reminder can go a long way.
So those are a few tips on how I get paid with freelancing. I’ve never not received payment from a client so I think it’s a pretty solid system.
Do any of you have issues or tips for getting paid? I’d love to hear your point-of-view. Or if you have additional questions I would be more than happy to answer them in the comments section.
• Freelance Matters | Estimating & Billing
• Freelance Matters | Project Management
• Money | Matters
Next up on Freelance Matters:
• Working for Free (aka ProBono): How, when and when not to work for free