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Don’t Be A Whore!

Don't be a design whore.10 Tips to help designers avoid being taken advantage of.

If you’re freelancing or just starting your own design company, you may be in jeopardy of being a whore. That’s right. Some seemingly sweet client may come along, wine and dine you, bend you over the back of the couch, have their way with you – then dump you like last week’s trash without paying you. You may be getting pimped right now and don’t even realize it. If you haven’t been stiffed by a client yet – just wait five minutes.

After 11 years in business I feel like I’ve learned to spot the busters and know how to avoid them. But, I’m still learning lessons every day. Here are ten quick rules for you to live by, so hopefully YOU won’t get “turned out.” After all, nobody wants to be a design whore.

Require a deposit.1. Require a deposit. This is my “A” number-one rule for filtering out busters. People that want to rip you off don’t want to do it partially. They want to rip you off completely. Having to make a cash deposit will scare off at least 80% of the jerks that will take advantage of you. I try to get a 50% deposit on projects. But larger projects – say over $5,000 I’ll take 33% or 25%.

2. Hold their files until final payment is made. It’s a shame that we have to resort to this sort of hostage negotiation to get our payments, but we do. As long as you hold the files – you hold the power. The second you hand over your files, you’re screwed. And don’t fall for the old: “I need to get those files to the printer immediately! We have a crushing deadline!” A client that is trying to rush you is a serious red flag. Your response should be: “I also have a crushing deadline! I need your money in my bank immediately!”

3. Beware of fast-talking promoters. Most busters that are going to rip you off fall into the category of “fast talking promoters.” These guys are full of energy, talk really fast and are GREAT at getting you excited. They feed off of your emotions. They compliment you a ton. Their project (whatever it is) will surely change the world, and YOU get to be part of it. They will frequently make huge predictions, and offer you piles of cash. Of course, these piles of cash come later. Right now they just need you to start working (for free)… and everything will pan out in the end. You’ll be rich and famous. Yeah, right.

4. There are no future profits, so don’t count on them. 90% of businesses fail in the first year. In my experience it’s closer to 99%. So, keep this in mind when someone offers to pay you a portion of the profits. Odds are – there won’t be any. And even if there are some profits – what are the odds they’ll actually share them with you if they come in? I’ll tell you: slim to none.

5. Avoid projects that are TOO BIG. Huh? Avoid big projects? What do you mean? Here is the rule: beware of projects that are larger than 10% of your previous year’s total sales. So, if you sold a grand total of $100,000 worth of design services in 2008, you should be a little wary of projects over 10K. Why? Well, it’s easy to over extend yourself. If a project is too big, it may monopolize all your time. Your other regular customers may have to be put on the back burner. You may even lose them. Then what happens when the project ends? What if the client doesn’t hire you again? Of course you want to grow and land big projects. Just be sure not to get too dependent on one customer. Stay diversified. Keep your options open. Or else you’re over the barrel. Your one big client may make you his whore.

Don't let the little stuff slide.6. Don’t let the little stuff slide. One way I’ve been taken advantage of is through the rapid compiling of little changes. The client starts all nice and easy to work with. Then they ask for one little extra bit of work. They purposely avoid talking about extra pay and play down the amount of work it will take. “Oh hey – could you just throw that logo onto a t-shirt too? It will only take a second.” Of course, this is just the start of a whole series of “little” additions. Pretty soon you’re working for days on end with no pay. So, the very second they try to add some little item onto the project; stop them cold and say: “Why sure, I would love to do that for you. It will only cost you $x.xx. Would you like me to charge your Mastercard for a 50% deposit?”

7. Document everything through e-mail. When clients do make changes that deviate from the original project scope, make sure you document that very clearly in an e-mail. For instance: “Mr. Jones, as I understand it, you want me to scrap the logo you gave me and now want me to design you a new logo as part of your website design project. As we were expecting to be working with your existing logo, this additional work will cost an extra X dollars and take an extra X days to complete. We will require a deposit of X dollars to begin this additional NEW work. Please confirm with an e-mail and we will charge your credit card for this deposit. Thank you for the extra work!”
God forbid you ever end up in court – these e-mails will prove invaluable as evidence. Many companies even use a “Change Request” form. The client has to literally sign on the dotted line and fax the change order back.

8. Make sure checks clear. A check isn’t cash. So, I like to make sure that checks clears in my bank before I start work.

Get out-of-pocket expenses paid in advance.9. Get out-of-pocket expenses paid for 100% in advance. This is a HUGE one, particularly if a client is ordering printing and you’re handling those up-front costs. We got royally f*cked this way once. I was paid for my design services ($600) but paid $1200 up front for printing, which I got stiffed on. So, the net result was that I PAID THIS JERK $600 for the privilage of designing him a flyer. Now Go Media requires all “out-of-pocket” expenses get paid 100% in advance.

10. Define the project scope as clearly as possible before starting. Whether it’s in a proposal, e-mail or invoice; define the scope of the design project as clearly as possible. Describe exactly what you’re going to produce and in what time frame. Talk about the number of revisions and how the files are to be delivered. Discuss the payment details. Talk about how much extra work will cost. Talk about it all. The more details you can put down the better. Once you start – stick to the project scope.

Well, that’s it. Stick with these policies and you’ll save yourself a ton of headaches. Good luck!

About the Author, William Beachy

I grew up in Cleveland Hts. Ohio and was drawing constantly. As a child I took art classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art and eventually became known as the "class artist." I graduated from The Ohio State University's department of Industrial Design. I have always tried to blend my passion for illustration with Graphic Design. Go Media was the culmination of my interests for both business and art. I'm trying to build a company that is equally considerate of our designers AND our clients.
Discover More by William Beachy

Discussion

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  • Adam

    Best title and intro paragraph on this website.

    …oh yeah, and a lot of helpful tips for newbies like me ;)

  • http://BeyondRandom.com BeyondRandom

    What a great read! Some great tips so Im for sure going to have to bookmark this for later reference. Thanks.

  • http://BeyondRandom.com BeyondRandom

    What a great read! Some great tips so Im for sure going to have to bookmark this for later reference. Thanks.

  • http://www.gamingtruth.com D’Juan

    Wow, those are definitely need-to-know rules when starting out. I can speak from experience that requiring a down payment will stop a lot of grief!

    I like this list – keep up the good work!

  • http://www.gamingtruth.com D’Juan

    Wow, those are definitely need-to-know rules when starting out. I can speak from experience that requiring a down payment will stop a lot of grief!

    I like this list – keep up the good work!

  • http://www.WarGraphicArts.com WAR

    I agree with all the post’s points fully and have added all of these to my client relations over the years, becuase of learning from bad mistakes. Most of these should be common sense, but usually when we first begin as designers we forget standards and try to work for everyone.

    Overall, I think this post should definitely be passed around every art college and to anyone about to start their own design business, whether freelance or not. These crucial points for dealing with every client should be implimented by everyone in the industry.

  • http://www.WarGraphicArts.com WAR

    I agree with all the post’s points fully and have added all of these to my client relations over the years, becuase of learning from bad mistakes. Most of these should be common sense, but usually when we first begin as designers we forget standards and try to work for everyone.

    Overall, I think this post should definitely be passed around every art college and to anyone about to start their own design business, whether freelance or not. These crucial points for dealing with every client should be implimented by everyone in the industry.

  • http://www.okaygreat.com OK Great

    #6-We almost always require a change request and I’d recommend using these even if you think it’s overkill. Some of the bigger clients have big legal teams. And those big legal teams can often times get email correspondence thrown out in court (like you said, god forbid you end up there). Hopefully, using some of the other tips in this list, you’ve already filtered out the kind of clients that will try to dismiss your work in the end and hand you their napkin sketch.

    Regarding #8, if you don’t know to wait for cleared checks, you shouldn’t own a business. This shouldn’t be a tip, it should be a prerequisite.

    last of all, #10. Ooooh, #10. In my eyes, this is tops. Clear definitions from the jump will save you soooo much hassle in the end. This is the time you’ll be getting signatures on legal documents like your proposals, thus your opportunity to preemptively cut any BS out of the deal.

    Thanks for the list, dudes. Fun read.

  • http://www.okaygreat.com OK Great

    #6-We almost always require a change request and I’d recommend using these even if you think it’s overkill. Some of the bigger clients have big legal teams. And those big legal teams can often times get email correspondence thrown out in court (like you said, god forbid you end up there). Hopefully, using some of the other tips in this list, you’ve already filtered out the kind of clients that will try to dismiss your work in the end and hand you their napkin sketch.

    Regarding #8, if you don’t know to wait for cleared checks, you shouldn’t own a business. This shouldn’t be a tip, it should be a prerequisite.

    last of all, #10. Ooooh, #10. In my eyes, this is tops. Clear definitions from the jump will save you soooo much hassle in the end. This is the time you’ll be getting signatures on legal documents like your proposals, thus your opportunity to preemptively cut any BS out of the deal.

    Thanks for the list, dudes. Fun read.

  • Eric Schultz

    Nice article – A must have for beginning… or any designer for that matter. I am a huge fan of the money up front point made here – if the client doesn’t have money up front, they won’t have it on the backside either.

    Don’t EVER design for FREE!!!!

  • Eric Schultz

    Nice article – A must have for beginning… or any designer for that matter. I am a huge fan of the money up front point made here – if the client doesn’t have money up front, they won’t have it on the backside either.

    Don’t EVER design for FREE!!!!

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Great advice as always. I’ve had clients disappear on me even after getting a deposit, and some who stopped responding to me before I even started doing the work (thankfully), and this was all in my first month of freelancing! Once you find the good ones, hold onto them. Nothing is more frustrating than dealing with unresponsive clients.

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Great advice as always. I’ve had clients disappear on me even after getting a deposit, and some who stopped responding to me before I even started doing the work (thankfully), and this was all in my first month of freelancing! Once you find the good ones, hold onto them. Nothing is more frustrating than dealing with unresponsive clients.

  • http://www.visual7.com.br Fábio ZC

    Excelent Article!
    All that you said is true!! Dont be a whore!!

  • http://www.visual7.com.br Fábio ZC

    Excelent Article!
    All that you said is true!! Dont be a whore!!

  • http://www.thecosmonaut.com Eric Oliver

    Solid advice, my man. I’ve been in this business for 10 years as a freelancer and at large agencies and these SAME issues always crop up. #6 (Don’t let the little stuff slide) is a big one for me. “Project creep” can quickly and easily get way out of control. Now I use change orders for EVERY change – even if I do a change for free, I issue a change order saying how much it should cost and then list that I’ve comped it and still have the client approve it. That seems to stop project creep quickly – clients knowing that they didn’t pay for the change this first time but they will in the future seems to nip that kind of thing in the bud.

    Good stuff, my man.

  • http://www.thecosmonaut.com Eric Oliver

    Solid advice, my man. I’ve been in this business for 10 years as a freelancer and at large agencies and these SAME issues always crop up. #6 (Don’t let the little stuff slide) is a big one for me. “Project creep” can quickly and easily get way out of control. Now I use change orders for EVERY change – even if I do a change for free, I issue a change order saying how much it should cost and then list that I’ve comped it and still have the client approve it. That seems to stop project creep quickly – clients knowing that they didn’t pay for the change this first time but they will in the future seems to nip that kind of thing in the bud.

    Good stuff, my man.

  • http://www.battlemedialab.com Joe

    Agree with most everything but the “I also have a crushing deadline! I need your money in my bank immediately!” thing sticks out as kind of unprofessional.

    When a project is complete, most agencies will give the client a grace period (let’s say 30 days) to pay the balance of the invoice upon receiving it.

  • http://www.battlemedialab.com Joe

    Agree with most everything but the “I also have a crushing deadline! I need your money in my bank immediately!” thing sticks out as kind of unprofessional.

    When a project is complete, most agencies will give the client a grace period (let’s say 30 days) to pay the balance of the invoice upon receiving it.

  • http://www.battlemedialab.com Joe

    meant to add, my last comment is based on an existing relationship with the client and/or any sort of trust you may have for them.

  • http://www.battlemedialab.com Joe

    meant to add, my last comment is based on an existing relationship with the client and/or any sort of trust you may have for them.

  • http://honeydesign.com Rina Miele

    But it’s too late for me… imadesignwhore.com

    Ha! Yea, still coming soon. In any event, this is a great article packed with great tips for all. Thanks!

  • http://honeydesign.com Rina Miele

    But it’s too late for me… imadesignwhore.com

    Ha! Yea, still coming soon. In any event, this is a great article packed with great tips for all. Thanks!

  • Michelle

    Thanks for the great post! I’ve been freelancing more lately and will definitely take your advice to be more stern with clients especially when they change their picky minds and expect mock ups and extra work for free. time is money. thanks again!

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    Great post. I usually require a 50% deposit on my projects aswell, although they’re nowhere nearly as big as $5,000. Wow.

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    Great post. I usually require a 50% deposit on my projects aswell, although they’re nowhere nearly as big as $5,000. Wow.

  • http://xerode.net/ xerode

    Useful post for any creative freelance work, not just designers. I’m more of a (Flash) developer and the “Document everything through e-mail” point is particularly pertinent – every single change should be documented and signed off!

  • http://xerode.net/ xerode

    Useful post for any creative freelance work, not just designers. I’m more of a (Flash) developer and the “Document everything through e-mail” point is particularly pertinent – every single change should be documented and signed off!

  • Shoaf

    #2 and #7 have been very effective for me.

  • Shoaf

    #2 and #7 have been very effective for me.

  • http://www.ianmattingly.com Ian Mattingly

    I really enjoyed this article and found it extremely helpful. I’ve gotten screwed a few times in the past and I won’t allow it to happen again.

    Thanks!

    Ian

  • http://www.ianmattingly.com Ian Mattingly

    I really enjoyed this article and found it extremely helpful. I’ve gotten screwed a few times in the past and I won’t allow it to happen again.

    Thanks!

    Ian

  • VRizo

    Great stuff, as always. But could you explain #9 a little bit more? Are you saying to research the expenses outside of your own work and to put up their prices in the project scope? Do you add any amount to that, or leave the other company’s prices (such as a printer’s fees for shirts)?

    thanks :)

  • VRizo

    Great stuff, as always. But could you explain #9 a little bit more? Are you saying to research the expenses outside of your own work and to put up their prices in the project scope? Do you add any amount to that, or leave the other company’s prices (such as a printer’s fees for shirts)?

    thanks :)

  • http://www.marenkellydesign.com Maren

    You know, I want to move more in this direction to also avoid getting stiffed. The problem that I am finding is that even with big clients, (a major action sports player I just did tees for) they sent me some livid email about ‘if I want a deposit upfront, this relationship isn’t going to work out’…funny thing was, I never asked for one! I just wanted my paycheck for work already done! How do we take the approach mentioned in this article (which totally makes all the sense in the world) and still get clients? Especially lately, I’ve been bombarded with clients who make me feel bad for invoicing them or for charging them late fees (as clearly stated in my invoices) when they don’t pay on time! They threaten not to work with me again simply for asking to get paid?!?!?! How do you guys at GoMedia manage to walk this tight rope? Does your reputation play a big role in helping them to see that you are serious?

  • http://www.marenkellydesign.com Maren

    You know, I want to move more in this direction to also avoid getting stiffed. The problem that I am finding is that even with big clients, (a major action sports player I just did tees for) they sent me some livid email about ‘if I want a deposit upfront, this relationship isn’t going to work out’…funny thing was, I never asked for one! I just wanted my paycheck for work already done! How do we take the approach mentioned in this article (which totally makes all the sense in the world) and still get clients? Especially lately, I’ve been bombarded with clients who make me feel bad for invoicing them or for charging them late fees (as clearly stated in my invoices) when they don’t pay on time! They threaten not to work with me again simply for asking to get paid?!?!?! How do you guys at GoMedia manage to walk this tight rope? Does your reputation play a big role in helping them to see that you are serious?

  • http://duncanmckean.co.uk dmk

    Excellent and valuable article. Thanks for the advice. Especially point 9. I can see me losing sleep over that one.

  • http://duncanmckean.co.uk dmk

    Excellent and valuable article. Thanks for the advice. Especially point 9. I can see me losing sleep over that one.

  • Adam

    Best title and intro paragraph on this website.

    …oh yeah, and a lot of helpful tips for newbies like me ;)

  • http://aetoricdesign.carbonmade.com Aetoric Design

    Oh, if only the clients had blogs telling THEM how to deal with US!

  • http://aetoricdesign.carbonmade.com Aetoric Design

    Oh, if only the clients had blogs telling THEM how to deal with US!

  • http://www.ritchielinao.com Ritchie

    WOW! nice article.

    One question Bill,

    If there are certain things that you can’t do in the job and the client already paid 50% of the project cost and you have already done 40% in the project and the client wants the down payment back because you can’t do something that he wants. In your own opinion what will you do?

  • http://www.ritchielinao.com Ritchie

    WOW! nice article.

    One question Bill,

    If there are certain things that you can’t do in the job and the client already paid 50% of the project cost and you have already done 40% in the project and the client wants the down payment back because you can’t do something that he wants. In your own opinion what will you do?

  • Michelle

    Thanks for the great post! I’ve been freelancing more lately and will definitely take your advice to be more stern with clients especially when they change their picky minds and expect mock ups and extra work for free. time is money. thanks again!

  • http://www.bobkatdesign.com Kate

    I’m a whore. My partner’s a whore. Sad but true.

    What else can you do when you’re just starting out? It’s tough. We’re even doing work on CrowdSpring which seems to be on every designer’s shit list now. We’re working on our marketing efforts and hope to get out of this pimp and ho lifestyle soon though. Fingers crossed.

  • http://www.bobkatdesign.com Kate

    I’m a whore. My partner’s a whore. Sad but true.

    What else can you do when you’re just starting out? It’s tough. We’re even doing work on CrowdSpring which seems to be on every designer’s shit list now. We’re working on our marketing efforts and hope to get out of this pimp and ho lifestyle soon though. Fingers crossed.

  • http://myspace.com/spinnas22 sw8t

    THankyou that was like the only thing I have read on this site fully. I appreciate the tips

  • http://myspace.com/spinnas22 sw8t

    THankyou that was like the only thing I have read on this site fully. I appreciate the tips

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  • http://colorburned.com Colorburned

    Great article! Getting screwed over sucks. It’s amazing how many seemingly nice people will screw you over in a second if given the chance.

    http://twitter.com/Colorburned

  • http://colorburned.com Colorburned

    Great article! Getting screwed over sucks. It’s amazing how many seemingly nice people will screw you over in a second if given the chance.

    http://twitter.com/Colorburned

  • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

    Awsome post, bookmarking this for later and then I’ll sure I’ll use it as reference on a post of my own. – Some really great points made.

  • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

    Awsome post, bookmarking this for later and then I’ll sure I’ll use it as reference on a post of my own. – Some really great points made.

  • Anonymous

    I have to say this is an awesome list – If I had read this about a year ago it would have been even better! But thats ok… If you are starting off in Freelance, HEED THESE WORDS! :)

  • http://www.alteredaspect.info Rob MacKay

    I have to say this is an awesome list – If I had read this about a year ago it would have been even better! But thats ok… If you are starting off in Freelance, HEED THESE WORDS! :)

  • http://raph.urtof.com Ramon

    You’re so right!!
    i’ve already had a deal with a fast talking promoter and he obviously tried to screwed me.. Promised me loads of work after that (exactly as you said..)

  • http://raph.urtof.com Ramon

    You’re so right!!
    i’ve already had a deal with a fast talking promoter and he obviously tried to screwed me.. Promised me loads of work after that (exactly as you said..)

  • JonasEd

    Sometimes you need to be a whore. That pays the bill, roof over you head and dinner on your table. Great article!

    Maybe you should change the title?

  • JonasEd

    Sometimes you need to be a whore. That pays the bill, roof over you head and dinner on your table. Great article!

    Maybe you should change the title?

  • http://www.thermosis.com/ Jayden

    Great post. Also – beware of doing work for agency’s that have 30 day accounts. I got screwed after I was owed a few K. I ignored the tell-tale signs… they were starting to take 40 days to pay – and then longer. Unbelievable. Either ask for SOME deposit up front, or be verrry careful if they take longer than a DAY more than your agreement to pay.

    Ps. – Colorburned – nice logo :P

  • http://www.thermosis.com/ Jayden

    Great post. Also – beware of doing work for agency’s that have 30 day accounts. I got screwed after I was owed a few K. I ignored the tell-tale signs… they were starting to take 40 days to pay – and then longer. Unbelievable. Either ask for SOME deposit up front, or be verrry careful if they take longer than a DAY more than your agreement to pay.

    Ps. – Colorburned – nice logo :P

  • Tim

    Eh, I feel like a whore sometimes. Us people attempting to enter the freelance realm have to take some jobs that we just know aren’t going to be easy.

    E.G, my last client was someone I’ve known for a while (not personally, a member on a tech forum), so I was relatively relaxed about doing business with him. 10 logo concepts, developments and about 5 hours work later, he completely falls off the radar.

    The guy already has $350 of mine for a screen he sold me which broke…

    He seemed like such a nice, genuine guy…

  • Tim

    Eh, I feel like a whore sometimes. Us people attempting to enter the freelance realm have to take some jobs that we just know aren’t going to be easy.

    E.G, my last client was someone I’ve known for a while (not personally, a member on a tech forum), so I was relatively relaxed about doing business with him. 10 logo concepts, developments and about 5 hours work later, he completely falls off the radar.

    The guy already has $350 of mine for a screen he sold me which broke…

    He seemed like such a nice, genuine guy…

  • Tim

    @Ritchie

    In this case, this is where a contract comes in handy. You should always have a contract that defines exactly what work they’re paying you for. As long as both parties stick to the outlines stated in the contract, neither should have reasons to pull out.

    They want something extra you can’t do? Fine. You just finish what you said you’d do, get paid, and point them towards someone who can.

    A kill-fee is another great idea. Define a certain percentage of the total value of the work, that they have to pay should they end the project mid-way through.

  • Tim

    @Ritchie

    In this case, this is where a contract comes in handy. You should always have a contract that defines exactly what work they’re paying you for. As long as both parties stick to the outlines stated in the contract, neither should have reasons to pull out.

    They want something extra you can’t do? Fine. You just finish what you said you’d do, get paid, and point them towards someone who can.

    A kill-fee is another great idea. Define a certain percentage of the total value of the work, that they have to pay should they end the project mid-way through.

  • Mike

    “There are no future profits, so don’t count on them.”
    So true! I dont know how many times i had to block clients and wanted to get me working for them without payment and getting a slice of the cake afterwards when they become millionaire…

    And another thing to be aware of:
    Never work for family members, friends and artists! Its just a rip-off!

  • Mike

    “There are no future profits, so don’t count on them.”
    So true! I dont know how many times i had to block clients and wanted to get me working for them without payment and getting a slice of the cake afterwards when they become millionaire…

    And another thing to be aware of:
    Never work for family members, friends and artists! Its just a rip-off!

  • ilkut

    you rock! Priceless entry. Thanks for sharing.

  • ilkut

    you rock! Priceless entry. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.designbuddy.net Nicholas

    This is some good stuff. Advice like this is what I need to share with my class mates on http://www.Designbuddy.net. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.designbuddy.net Nicholas

    This is some good stuff. Advice like this is what I need to share with my class mates on http://www.Designbuddy.net. Thank you for sharing.

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  • http://www.room122.com room122

    Wonderful info! And words to live by. Who wants to end up getting bent over the couch?!?

  • http://www.room122.com Nathan

    Wonderful info! And words to live by. Who wants to end up getting bent over the couch?!?

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    @ Marmen

    Hey Marmen, I’ll be honest… it sounds like you have a bunch of jerks for clients. If they’re harassing you about asking for payments or deposits – just let them go. I know it’s scary to be without clients. But in the long run your time is better spent using your energy to find NEW clients.

    The FEELING I’m looking for when I’m working with my clients is a life-long well respected friendship; honesty, integrity, friendly, etc. If a client of Go Media’s is making us feel bad… we dump them.

    It takes a long time to FIND clients like this. There are a LOT more busters and jerks out there. Well, no, not exactly. But the good clients don’t bounce around from vendor to vendor. So, they’re harder to find because they’re loyal. So it’s often the case that you’ll more easily FIND busters and jerks because they’re spoiling relationships and constantly on the outlook for some naive designer to take advantage of.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    @ Marmen

    Hey Marmen, I’ll be honest… it sounds like you have a bunch of jerks for clients. If they’re harassing you about asking for payments or deposits – just let them go. I know it’s scary to be without clients. But in the long run your time is better spent using your energy to find NEW clients.

    The FEELING I’m looking for when I’m working with my clients is a life-long well respected friendship; honesty, integrity, friendly, etc. If a client of Go Media’s is making us feel bad… we dump them.

    It takes a long time to FIND clients like this. There are a LOT more busters and jerks out there. Well, no, not exactly. But the good clients don’t bounce around from vendor to vendor. So, they’re harder to find because they’re loyal. So it’s often the case that you’ll more easily FIND busters and jerks because they’re spoiling relationships and constantly on the outlook for some naive designer to take advantage of.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    @ Ritchie

    Hey Ritchie… Well… This is a tough situation. Discussing the project in great detail BEFORE you get started is the only solution I can think of. You really should have a rock solid understanding of what they want done BEFORE you ever start.

    If you’ve done this – and then the client throws you a curve ball, then asks for their deposit back – sounds like a scam to me. Sounds like they wanted to get out of the deal, and just needed an excuse.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    @ Ritchie

    Hey Ritchie… Well… This is a tough situation. Discussing the project in great detail BEFORE you get started is the only solution I can think of. You really should have a rock solid understanding of what they want done BEFORE you ever start.

    If you’ve done this – and then the client throws you a curve ball, then asks for their deposit back – sounds like a scam to me. Sounds like they wanted to get out of the deal, and just needed an excuse.

  • http://www.jagdesignideas.com Joel Glovier

    Wow, thanks for the advice. I’ve been freelancing full time/sorta full time for a year and a half now, and those tips are really great. Just when you think you start to know your way around a little something always comes up. Excellent reminders on some of that stuff (and reminders ARE priceless) and good heads-up on the rest.

    THANKS!!

  • http://www.ritchielinao.com Ritchie

    @Tim and @Bill

    Thank you for the reply guys. I really appreciated your advice.

    Level Up! Tan tadadadant 2x!

    hehe ^_^

  • http://www.jagdesignideas.com Joel Glovier

    Wow, thanks for the advice. I’ve been freelancing full time/sorta full time for a year and a half now, and those tips are really great. Just when you think you start to know your way around a little something always comes up. Excellent reminders on some of that stuff (and reminders ARE priceless) and good heads-up on the rest.

    THANKS!!

  • http://www.ritchielinao.com Ritchie

    @Tim and @Bill

    Thank you for the reply guys. I really appreciated your advice.

    Level Up! Tan tadadadant 2x!

    hehe ^_^

  • http://www.outliersolutions.com Outlier

    As a fast talking charismatic guy, I give a full agreement to this article. Future profits, Ha! I also love, “Do this one thing at bulk price, cause there is more down the road”. Every sales guys will fall for that one. Sometimes it is true, but it will happen anyway! not cause you caved on job 1.

    The hardest one to internalize is that you can’t take that huge project. It is a hard lesson to learn.

  • http://www.outliersolutions.com Outlier

    As a fast talking charismatic guy, I give a full agreement to this article. Future profits, Ha! I also love, “Do this one thing at bulk price, cause there is more down the road”. Every sales guys will fall for that one. Sometimes it is true, but it will happen anyway! not cause you caved on job 1.

    The hardest one to internalize is that you can’t take that huge project. It is a hard lesson to learn.

  • http://www.cartoonsmart.com Justin

    Very funny, very true. Consider it Dugg.

  • http://www.cartoonsmart.com Justin

    Very funny, very true. Consider it Dugg.

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  • http://www.jkaps.com Jonathan Kaplan

    It is so good to see advice like this. I am starting out and these kind of posts are incredibly helpful.

  • http://www.jkaps.com Jonathan Kaplan

    It is so good to see advice like this. I am starting out and these kind of posts are incredibly helpful.

  • http://hydrovibe.com Heather St. Marie

    Hey, Bill! I WAS born on the Louisiana bayou, and I really appreciate this article. Unfortunately, I learned a few of these the hard way too… But it’s great that fellow designers from an amazing company are willing to share experiences and tips.

    Keep ‘em coming, mon amie… and
    Laissez les bon temps rouller!

    Heather

  • http://hydrovibe.com Heather St. Marie

    Hey, Bill! I WAS born on the Louisiana bayou, and I really appreciate this article. Unfortunately, I learned a few of these the hard way too… But it’s great that fellow designers from an amazing company are willing to share experiences and tips.

    Keep ‘em coming, mon amie… and
    Laissez les bon temps rouller!

    Heather

  • Tom

    I almost threw up when I read this. Realizing someone has made you their bitch is not a fun feeling.

  • Tom

    I almost threw up when I read this. Realizing someone has made you their bitch is not a fun feeling.

  • Morten FC

    Great article! I can really relate to a couple of episodes I’ve been through, and evensomething I’m working on now :|

  • Dave

    sadly there are too many youngens out there that will do all of the things they shouldnt just to get out there, thus ruining any leverage designs used to have. I know hundreds of designs that will not only do spec work but FREE work. They dont realize that they are screwing it up for everyone. It is only till they leave home and have to pay thier own bills that they see what damage they caused. I wrote all this in hope they will read this :)

  • Dave

    sadly there are too many youngens out there that will do all of the things they shouldnt just to get out there, thus ruining any leverage designs used to have. I know hundreds of designs that will not only do spec work but FREE work. They dont realize that they are screwing it up for everyone. It is only till they leave home and have to pay thier own bills that they see what damage they caused. I wrote all this in hope they will read this :)

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  • Morten FC

    Great article! I can really relate to a couple of episodes I’ve been through, and evensomething I’m working on now :|

  • http://gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Hey Bill, good article.

    What about when you work for clients that like to set their OWN payment terms? Ad Agencies, Merch Companies, etc. We almost never get a deposit up front from these guys. When we try to treat them like every other client and ask for a deposit up front, they usually respond with “uh, that’s not how we do things around here….”

    Yet we still continue to work for these types of clients. So at what point to you discard your policies? Should we have to? I mean, working for agencies is some of the more higher profile and higher paying work we do, so it’s in our best interest to make them happy. But why do they get “special” treatment that our other clients cannot get?

    I think our readers might like to know some insight on when to abandon your policies. And some insight into when a client hasn’t paid us in 6 months and are racking up bills (yet we keep doing work for them) under the premise of “oh they always pay us eventually.”

    I think having policies is important, but it seems every client is different and requires different treatment and care. Would you agree?

    Anyway, this is too long of a comment. I’m open for discussion!

  • http://gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Hey Bill, good article.

    What about when you work for clients that like to set their OWN payment terms? Ad Agencies, Merch Companies, etc. We almost never get a deposit up front from these guys. When we try to treat them like every other client and ask for a deposit up front, they usually respond with “uh, that’s not how we do things around here….”

    Yet we still continue to work for these types of clients. So at what point to you discard your policies? Should we have to? I mean, working for agencies is some of the more higher profile and higher paying work we do, so it’s in our best interest to make them happy. But why do they get “special” treatment that our other clients cannot get?

    I think our readers might like to know some insight on when to abandon your policies. And some insight into when a client hasn’t paid us in 6 months and are racking up bills (yet we keep doing work for them) under the premise of “oh they always pay us eventually.”

    I think having policies is important, but it seems every client is different and requires different treatment and care. Would you agree?

    Anyway, this is too long of a comment. I’m open for discussion!

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  • Ruben

    LOL, love the title

    Pretty impressive list…one that I would like to see is “How to handle designing for friends.” Should they be charged if the job turns out to be just like the ones you get paid for?

    Again, totally on point.

  • Ruben

    LOL, love the title

    Pretty impressive list…one that I would like to see is “How to handle designing for friends.” Should they be charged if the job turns out to be just like the ones you get paid for?

    Again, totally on point.

  • http://ashleymcfarland.com Ashley McFarland

    Good tips – Great title!!!

  • http://ashleymcfarland.com Ashley McFarland

    Good tips – Great title!!!

  • Bill

    @ Jeff

    Great question Jeff!

    Regarding working for “bigger” companies like advertising agencies and representation firms, what you have to remember is that we’re talking about managing risk vs. reward.

    So, if you’re working for some shady looking dude that you met on the street – your RISK is obviously VERY high. On top of that he’s probably not going to be paying you much money – so your reward is very low. In this scenario I say you need to stick strictly to your policies. It’s a high risk, low reward scenario.

    Now – one scenario where Go Media does NOT follow these policies is with one of our new clients. They are a large advertising firm. They have been around for 90 years. We went and met with their owners. We toured they’re facility. AND they’re paying us a good rate on some big projects. Not only that, but they’re high profile projects. So, in this scenario we have a low level of risk combined with a high reward.

    Now, is it guaranteed? No. Are we still taking a risk by giving them 30 day terms? Could they stiff us? Yes.

    Everyone needs to use their best judgment and pick and choose when and who they take these risks with.

    I think when you’re first starting out, you take tons of risks – and consequently get burned a lot. As you get bigger and have more clients you take fewer and fewer risks. At the end of the day, unless you’re asking for 100% payments in advance (which some firms DO DO!) then you’re always taking SOME kind of risk.

    Hope this answers your question.

    -Bill

  • Bill

    @ Jeff

    Great question Jeff!

    Regarding working for “bigger” companies like advertising agencies and representation firms, what you have to remember is that we’re talking about managing risk vs. reward.

    So, if you’re working for some shady looking dude that you met on the street – your RISK is obviously VERY high. On top of that he’s probably not going to be paying you much money – so your reward is very low. In this scenario I say you need to stick strictly to your policies. It’s a high risk, low reward scenario.

    Now – one scenario where Go Media does NOT follow these policies is with one of our new clients. They are a large advertising firm. They have been around for 90 years. We went and met with their owners. We toured they’re facility. AND they’re paying us a good rate on some big projects. Not only that, but they’re high profile projects. So, in this scenario we have a low level of risk combined with a high reward.

    Now, is it guaranteed? No. Are we still taking a risk by giving them 30 day terms? Could they stiff us? Yes.

    Everyone needs to use their best judgment and pick and choose when and who they take these risks with.

    I think when you’re first starting out, you take tons of risks – and consequently get burned a lot. As you get bigger and have more clients you take fewer and fewer risks. At the end of the day, unless you’re asking for 100% payments in advance (which some firms DO DO!) then you’re always taking SOME kind of risk.

    Hope this answers your question.

    -Bill

  • http://www.jagdesignideas.com Joel Glovier

    @Jeff – What a GREAT question.

    @Bill – What a GREAT answer. Thank you for the insight!! That is a terrific perspective to have. Risk vs. Reward. Hmmm. Kinda catchy.

  • http://www.jagdesignideas.com Joel Glovier

    @Jeff – What a GREAT question.

    @Bill – What a GREAT answer. Thank you for the insight!! That is a terrific perspective to have. Risk vs. Reward. Hmmm. Kinda catchy.

  • http://smashill.com smashill

    I guess it’s the hardest part to learn for every designer and artist that you have to pay the bills and that fancy artwork alone won’t protect you from people wanting to rip you off. It’s like stealing from babys, most won’t hit you in the face and rather laugh when you take something from them. Not that I would do that… not never… seriously :)

  • http://smashill.com smashill

    I guess it’s the hardest part to learn for every designer and artist that you have to pay the bills and that fancy artwork alone won’t protect you from people wanting to rip you off. It’s like stealing from babys, most won’t hit you in the face and rather laugh when you take something from them. Not that I would do that… not never… seriously :)

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    A lot of good advice in this article. Unfortunately, some of these I had to learn on my own.

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    A lot of good advice in this article. Unfortunately, some of these I had to learn on my own.

  • Mauritius N. DSilva

    Amazing Post.. was very informative for designers like us! “Don’t be a Whore”…. he he…. Thanks!

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  • Mauritius N. DSilva

    Amazing Post.. was very informative for designers like us! “Don’t be a Whore”…. he he…. Thanks!

  • Simon H.

    This is really interesting. Especially when you’re a young designer starting and you need to let yourself known, you can sometimes think that you have to let the customer “eat” you.

    On the other hand, for some really inexperimented freelancers (which I might be), it’s hard to catch where the balance is between being customer friendly and appearing greedy… I think we should have some customer management classes in design schools. But that would be oriented towards our type of job (creative) and not just a regular salesman for life insurance (true experience right there…).

    @Bill : let’s come back on your story of that big company you could work for. What happens if they screw you ? I guess Go Media is wealthy enough to be able to afford a lawyer, but what do you do when you’re a freelance designer (especially a starting one) ? I don’t know if the time and energy you’d spend to sue them, sometimes without having good enough knowledge of your rights, is worth it…
    At the same time, I disagree with people saying that you have to learn the job that way, especially when it’s the hard way…

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    @Simon – We actually DID have a large company stiff us. We did get paid a large deposit on the project, but in the end, they project scope kept changing and deadlines kept moving. Eventually things got ugly and the client bailed right at the end. We spent months working and eseentially did not get paid for our work.

    I think something that could have helped us in this situation was to have had a monthly payment system. Sometimes on big projects that take a few months, a monthly bill is your friend.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    @Simon – We actually DID have a large company stiff us. We did get paid a large deposit on the project, but in the end, they project scope kept changing and deadlines kept moving. Eventually things got ugly and the client bailed right at the end. We spent months working and eseentially did not get paid for our work.

    I think something that could have helped us in this situation was to have had a monthly payment system. Sometimes on big projects that take a few months, a monthly bill is your friend.

  • http://www.grafikkid.com Chris Stauffer

    Great information! Also, you guys should have a link to the GoMedia Forum on here (I didn’t see one.)

  • http://www.grafikkid.com Chris Stauffer

    Great information! Also, you guys should have a link to the GoMedia Forum on here (I didn’t see one.)

  • Simon H.

    This is really interesting. Especially when you’re a young designer starting and you need to let yourself known, you can sometimes think that you have to let the customer “eat” you.

    On the other hand, for some really inexperimented freelancers (which I might be), it’s hard to catch where the balance is between being customer friendly and appearing greedy… I think we should have some customer management classes in design schools. But that would be oriented towards our type of job (creative) and not just a regular salesman for life insurance (true experience right there…).

    @Bill : let’s come back on your story of that big company you could work for. What happens if they screw you ? I guess Go Media is wealthy enough to be able to afford a lawyer, but what do you do when you’re a freelance designer (especially a starting one) ? I don’t know if the time and energy you’d spend to sue them, sometimes without having good enough knowledge of your rights, is worth it…
    At the same time, I disagree with people saying that you have to learn the job that way, especially when it’s the hard way…

  • http://www.presidiacreative.com/ Eric Shafer
  • http://www.presidiacreative.com/ Eric Shafer
  • http://www.jagdesignideas.com Joel Glovier

    @Bill – I love the point you make about FINDING good clients being tuff because they don’t bounce around alot. That is a great point to ponder…mostly because I think it is encouraging in the end. When you think about the fact that if you find a good client, they may be yours for years to come, it’ll encourage you to stick to your gunz and wade through the bogus clients.

    General statement here, I know the whole point is not to be a whore and I agree. Totally. In fact I’m a huge fan of the NoSpec article too – and for those that come knockin with the “I’ve got a great opportunity for you..it’ll get you great exposure/look good on your resume/good practice” etc. line, I believe in edumacating those folks! (with some tact, of course) But I want to make a comment that sometimes it’s OK to work for free. Now the only times I actually talking about is donating services for a cause you support. There are a few non-profits that I’ve had some personal involvement with, one being my church, and I regularly donate work to them. Now a lot of them have also paid me for projects at times. But overall I know they are not going to be cash clients, but I so strongly believe in what they stand for or what they are doing, that I like to get involved by donating my services. Church people talk alot about tithing their money to God. I also believe in tithing my talents by giving back to organizations I can stand behind.

    There’s a fine line, though I think too. It can also be tempting to “donate” work more so with the hopes that it will gain you exposure or the business of that client. You need to be careful about that.

  • http://www.jagdesignideas.com Joel Glovier

    @Bill – I love the point you make about FINDING good clients being tuff because they don’t bounce around alot. That is a great point to ponder…mostly because I think it is encouraging in the end. When you think about the fact that if you find a good client, they may be yours for years to come, it’ll encourage you to stick to your gunz and wade through the bogus clients.

    General statement here, I know the whole point is not to be a whore and I agree. Totally. In fact I’m a huge fan of the NoSpec article too – and for those that come knockin with the “I’ve got a great opportunity for you..it’ll get you great exposure/look good on your resume/good practice” etc. line, I believe in edumacating those folks! (with some tact, of course) But I want to make a comment that sometimes it’s OK to work for free. Now the only times I actually talking about is donating services for a cause you support. There are a few non-profits that I’ve had some personal involvement with, one being my church, and I regularly donate work to them. Now a lot of them have also paid me for projects at times. But overall I know they are not going to be cash clients, but I so strongly believe in what they stand for or what they are doing, that I like to get involved by donating my services. Church people talk alot about tithing their money to God. I also believe in tithing my talents by giving back to organizations I can stand behind.

    There’s a fine line, though I think too. It can also be tempting to “donate” work more so with the hopes that it will gain you exposure or the business of that client. You need to be careful about that.

  • Andy O

    Best article I’ve read in a long time. I recently did a job that was for a tax write-off instead of payment. They were a non-profit and did follow through in the end. However, the “free” clients are always the most demanding too. It’s just not worth it without the cash-in-hand.

  • http://wynneleungart.com Wynne

    Thanks for posting this article. Sometimes I feel bad charging people a deposit, but I also got screwed a few times so I always take a deposit now.

  • http://wynneleungart.com Wynne

    Thanks for posting this article. Sometimes I feel bad charging people a deposit, but I also got screwed a few times so I always take a deposit now.

  • Andy O

    Best article I’ve read in a long time. I recently did a job that was for a tax write-off instead of payment. They were a non-profit and did follow through in the end. However, the “free” clients are always the most demanding too. It’s just not worth it without the cash-in-hand.

  • Preston Lewis

    Hey!

    Kind of an unrelated question but I’ve been trying to ask you guys questions on twitter and it doesn’t seem anyone is noticing. Common Gomedia Guys! :)

  • Preston Lewis

    Hey!

    Kind of an unrelated question but I’ve been trying to ask you guys questions on twitter and it doesn’t seem anyone is noticing. Common Gomedia Guys! :)

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Michael Thomas

    This is great advice. I am now 23 working for a large web design company, before this I was freelancing while I was at School and University from the age of 16. The amount of time I have done work and not been paid is incredible. Once was for a Motor Racing club where I was in contact with the director of the club, and then the club secretary got involved and wanted the whole site changing from blue to grey, which meant changing everything, then she went behind everyones back and got a nephew of hers to build the site who was one of those fake web designers (A programmer with no design knowledge) to build the site and to top it all off he used my photography. I still got 2/3 of the payment and threatened to take the programmer to court if he did not remove my photography. I have also fallen in the trap of doing a job and then being paid once the company makes any money, this was for a friend of a friend who also got stuffed as he put in a lot of work for the company who went of on their own. Unfortunately for them I was hosting the site so it was just a case of taking it down, but it was still a waste of time. I think you learn as you go along. Sometimes the hard way but it is all for the best in the end. These are were all for jobs below £750 if you learned the hard way on a £5000 job then it can be gut retching! Keep up the good blogs.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Michael Thomas

    This is great advice. I am now 23 working for a large web design company, before this I was freelancing while I was at School and University from the age of 16. The amount of time I have done work and not been paid is incredible. Once was for a Motor Racing club where I was in contact with the director of the club, and then the club secretary got involved and wanted the whole site changing from blue to grey, which meant changing everything, then she went behind everyones back and got a nephew of hers to build the site who was one of those fake web designers (A programmer with no design knowledge) to build the site and to top it all off he used my photography. I still got 2/3 of the payment and threatened to take the programmer to court if he did not remove my photography. I have also fallen in the trap of doing a job and then being paid once the company makes any money, this was for a friend of a friend who also got stuffed as he put in a lot of work for the company who went of on their own. Unfortunately for them I was hosting the site so it was just a case of taking it down, but it was still a waste of time. I think you learn as you go along. Sometimes the hard way but it is all for the best in the end. These are were all for jobs below £750 if you learned the hard way on a £5000 job then it can be gut retching! Keep up the good blogs.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Adam Wagner

    @Preston Lewis
    Jeff is surprisingly good at responding to twitter questions. When addressing the question, be sure not to forget the underscore in @Go_Media – otherwise we don’t see it!

    And, of course, you can always send an email.
    We’ll keep a lookout!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Adam Wagner

    @Preston Lewis
    Jeff is surprisingly good at responding to twitter questions. When addressing the question, be sure not to forget the underscore in @Go_Media – otherwise we don’t see it!

    And, of course, you can always send an email.
    We’ll keep a lookout!

  • http://www.jagdesignideas.com Joel Glovier

    @Andy O – Amen. Yeah I have had a similar experience with alot of my donated work. That’s why I’ll only donate my services if I really believe in the cause. Otherwise you just get uber-frustrated.

  • http://www.jagdesignideas.com Joel Glovier

    @Andy O – Amen. Yeah I have had a similar experience with alot of my donated work. That’s why I’ll only donate my services if I really believe in the cause. Otherwise you just get uber-frustrated.

  • http://spoutcreative.com/ Tracy

    Great post. I completely agree with all of your points. Been burned a few times by a number of them. Now I’m very diligent about contracts and upfront fees. Wish I had your advice before they happened!

  • http://spoutcreative.com/ Tracy

    Great post. I completely agree with all of your points. Been burned a few times by a number of them. Now I’m very diligent about contracts and upfront fees. Wish I had your advice before they happened!

  • Erina

    This was super helpful! thank you guys so much for all that you do and sharing your wisdom to newbies like me!

  • Erina

    This was super helpful! thank you guys so much for all that you do and sharing your wisdom to newbies like me!

  • http://www.gomedia.us jeff_finley

    Great post (testing with Disqus)

  • dev

    Great advice for newbie like me, i really dont know most of this, and some make me think that freelancer work or start a new design company is really a difficult work.

  • Santiago Ramirez

    Great article. I agree, some of these are lessons that you just learn from experience but it's nice to have a cheat sheet we can go back and make sure we are doing everything we can to be great artists. I was wondering, what do you do if they still haven't paid? Have you used something like RipoffReport.com? Any comments, please post.

  • Karina Myers

    Good stuff, all of it. specially tip #1 you got to have some insurance at all times ~ after all you got to pay the bills, the same with laying down the project specifications very clearly from the beginning ~ some clients don’t understand about boundaries, I believe it’s up to us the designers/developers to explain the specifications of the job.

    I also enjoyed the risk vs. reward advice.

    Thanks for these great tips!

    - Karina

    http://www.tablox.net
    http://www.karinamyers.com
    http://twitter.com/karinamyers

  • anhhungnxh

    hi hi

  • http://www.mariepoulin.com Marie Poulin

    Isn't it kind of depressing how many of us freelancers have been screwed at one point or another?
    Great post ;)

  • Kerry

    Here is a short article entitled … Dont be a Sucker…

    Which is from the purchasers point of view.

    How many people have said “Oh sure, that's not a problem, yea 1/2 day”, only to find out…, and wasters like that also cost money. And there are a plenty of them.

    For this “Sucker” article…….I'll start…

    1) Dont give them a penny till you've see a portfolio, and they can prove its their work. Too easy to download and say “I made that”

    2) Put the money in escrow…. 50% deposit 3/4 of the time you'll never see that again. Sucker.

    3) Be clear about copyright ownership. You pay you own.

    4) Be clear about portfolio use. Is this work confidential? will it be so in 3 months?

    5) No NDA (non-disclosure agreement) = no deal. Some artwork maybe very sensitive, you dont want it appearing on myspace.

    6) Record / email everything. Better safe than sorry, helps reclaiming escrow money.

    7) If you want concept art first, limit payment just to that. If continued then escrow again. And you have no obligation to continue if you dont want to. Irrespective of the quality. You pay, you choose.

    8) No legit address / phone – no deal. There are lots out there that are take_em@free_for_a_day.com. via paypal.com

    9) Phone previous clients. Any legit person has NO problem with this one.

    10) No previous client info = no deal, esp. if portfolio show's client work.. The rest is just conversation.

    Lastly give a kid a chance… always be willing to give a new person a chance…..let them work in your office if that makes you feel better, and is possible…but remember everyone was a beginner once….But don't be a sucker. By you being professional, it will help them be professional too.

  • T

    I gotta add this. Even if the pure production (excluding the paper) of a product (ie flyer) costs more than $20,000 and is for a major company, some are trying to tell you, that they didn't get much for this project and try to bring you down from let's say 300 to 240. It's a pure ego trip to them and makes no difference to them at all. The numbers are no exeggaration.

  • Liza

    Yes, that is the problem! When you are going to ask for payment in time, you hear all the same “You don't trust me?But why? I'll pay later, I'm busy now”
    I trust my client otherwise I see no sense to continue collaboration, but I want them to understand, that I need money too because of my bills , that I do not extra work for free because need to work for money to live. I can not understand why when you are good to your client , he immediately begins to name you My Friend and asks for free services. That is nonsense.

  • Liza

    №9 LOL if I work NDA you can not receive any information about my clients, if I work NDA I have no good portfolio, if you do not trust freelancer, go to a big fat agency and pay X time bigger, and they will treat you very firmly. Agencies have their own rules too ^)) BTW serious clients describe their needs at the beginning not to be “irrespective of the quality”. Do not use chip freelancers from Chinese – that is your article, and you'll get perfect work.

  • http://www.patrickstjohn.org/blog Patrick St. John

    It's true; it's a real hassle. My usual line is to take the apologetic route:

    “Gee, I wish I didn't have to require a deposit – I know you're good for it – but I'm on strict orders from my accountant.”

    That way you can compliment them while still standing firm on requiring the deposit.

    This is also EXTRA-SUPER IMPORTANT in today's economic climate. More and more organizations are pushing off, or simply not paying, bills sent them. Unless you're in the mafia, you're going to run into some payment problems.

  • http://www.gomedia.us jeff_finley

    Good advice Patrick. I'll have to remember that accountant line!

  • http://www.gomedia.us jeff_finley

    That's some sage advice for a CLIENT for sure!

  • Pingback: Freelance Radio, Episode 29: Repairing Client Communications - FreelanceSwitch - The Freelance Blog

  • Cantrell

    That's a clause you need to include in the contract/invoice. That if by any reason the project fails to reach completion, your client is entitled to x% of their deposit back based on x% of work all ready completed. Or simply make the deposits non-refundable. Either way it needs to show up in the official paperwork.

  • marc

    hey i loved the article. lots of useful advice. I have just graduated from graphic design course at uni and want to do freelance because it seems near on impossible to find the right job for me with the tough times the world is facing i was offered many jobs while at uni but they have all faded away. so what i want to ask is any tips on securing clients in the first place?

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Mat

    Some really interesting stuff, to be honest one of the best posts i have read for some time, with some great replies and answers too. keep it up.

  • http://www.bc-media.co.uk Ecommerce Web Design

    Heres a good tip for UK designers – get your deposit in the form of a cheque. If the customer fails to pay you can go to a judge with the customers banks details and request the money is taken straight from their account.

    Its called a Garinshee order and puts a freeze on the clients account until your money has been paid. Great stuff – Power to the Designer!

  • http://milwaukeeairbrush.com Everardo

    Great article and amazing advice. I thought only we airbrush artists had to deal with such knuckleheads. Thanks for the heads up. Very useful advice as I make my transition from airbrush to digital.

  • http://argstudios.com Anthony

    Oh soooooooo true! I have experienced every one of those scenarios. Great article!

  • http://www.digitalroom.com/business-cards-printing.html Business Cards Printing

    Your post is very helpful. Some of them I've experienced already and I bet a lot have. thanks for the tips. I think it also applies to not just designers. A lot of people with other jobs need this sort of thing too. Thanks!

  • http://www.sandersdesign.com martin

    first visit to the gomediazine site, and wow what an article. very helpful points and a great title to boot

  • http://angrybunniportfolio.blogspot.com Crystal

    Thank you for posting this.

    After a different project was completed(more like an event), I was approached with my first 2 clients in the freelancing business within 4 days. The first client, I quoted extremely cheap and without deposit because I was taken aback and unprepared. The second I quickly learned to take a deposit and quoted him 3x my price to the 1st client but is still very cheap.

    I am very nervous of being “pimped” but I already have taken the risk with the 1st one-now i await payment!

    How do you encourage timely payment in this case? I have not released the original files but have communicated via e-mail with .PNG attatchments of my work.

  • http://www.hostpipe.co.uk Stroud Web Design

    It's taken me 5 years but I find it quite easy to qualify leads for new projects now. It's too easy sometimes to say yes to any job and ignore that gut instinct which can be applied to any part of a new lead, whether it be the project, the client or their methods of communication and payment.

    I think the worst thing you can do is undersell yourself in this instance, quoting less just to get a job more often than not means that you end up resenting the project and/or client and probably won't do as good a job as you would if you'd quoted 100%.

  • http://www.jmkdesignsonline.com Joni King

    I have been designing and working prepress printing for over 30 years. I own my own ad agency and the biggest thing to share with all of you new designers is be a NO SPEC company. By this I mean, charge the client for each speculative design done.
    The main product of my business is ideas — creative solutions to the communications problems and opportunities facing our many clients. And good ideas — creativity — can be tough to define, or agree upon. One person’s passion is often another’s poison. So it’s no wonder that potential clients often ask me to take a project on speculation. That is, to try out our creative product in much the same way they may try out other types of products before purchasing.

    I make money mostly by selling my time. Unlike businesses that sell products, I can’t take time back and resell it. Thus, the less time I actually sell, the more I have to charge for it. So I attempt to hold my prices down by keeping constantly busy.

    I also have substantial fixed overhead costs — computers, peripherals, software, etc. So the higher the percentage of our time that is productive (billable), the more I can spread these costs, and the less each individual client gets charged for them.

    In addition, the only way I can recover my overhead costs is through what I charge my clients. If I accepted speculative projects, (without pay) the overhead for these non-billable hours would have to be added to the factor I already charge
    my regular, paying clients. I don’t think this would be fair.

    This is payment your computer time, electric, internet, your knowledge, etc. (If any designer wants the letter that I send in my quotes, I will be glad to forward it to you just email me).

    Never feel embarrassed to get 50% down on all projects, (cover expenses) and if marketing, get a retainer as well. This is a business, not a charity. We design ideas..that is what we do.
    Remember that every time you touch your computer for a client…that is costing you money and it must be covered.

    Another tip: charge $1.00 extra to each and every project. That is an extra office cost payment for free to help offset any bad deals.
    I have been in business a very long time and now am working with web design and 3d animation projects.

    Thanks and keep designing guys!
    JMK

  • http://www.downloadic.com Downloadic

    True and creativity works…

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk gaz's website

    really great article,

    enjoyed reading and i will be taking your advice twice daily on an empty stomach!

    just one thing for me though, what do you mean by hold their flies? im from the uk!!!

    gaz.

  • http://www.jmkdesignsonline.com Joni King

    Do not upload to the FTP servers for print, publish to server for web..etc. Hold the files.
    JMK

  • Andie

    #5- Very Important!

    I've seen a business collapse because the owner was tempted by a very large client. He saw the potential income from this one client and said “Eff our little regulars!” We became their whore and unfortunately found out that the owner didn't know about a little thing called the 90-day billing cycle. The cost of the up-front expenses (he didn't know about rule #9) for this client's projects drained the company in a matter of weeks.

  • http://www.nicolemorsecreative.com/ nicole

    Amazing! Where has this article been all my life? My freelance life, anyway… I'm spreading the love by spreading this article around to other freelancers.

  • http://www.nicolemorsecreative.com/ nicole

    Amazing! Where has this article been all my life? My freelance life, anyway… I'm spreading the love by spreading this article around to other freelancers.

  • Chad

    Shewt, from my experience, if you cave on Job 1, that client will expect the same treatment for every job thereafter.

  • Chad

    Shewt, from my experience, if you cave on Job 1, that client will expect the same treatment for every job thereafter.

  • http://cynicdesign.deviantart.com cynicdesign

    This is the single best nuts and bolts money article for young designers- ever.

    Never, ever, ever ever ever ever, ever deliver files before you get paid.
    Thank you.

  • http://www.harmonlegal.net/ Arizona bankruptcy lawyer

    Great title!
    Great points. I really like #6 because little things always start to add up and you can easily be taken advantage of.

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

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  • Ariful Hasan

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  • Arifur Rahman

    Thanks for this useful article. Keep it up

  • Arifur Rahman

    Thanks for this useful article. Keep it up

  • http://www.facebook.com/lex.singleton Alexander Singleton

    Amazing post- definitely changing the way I handle printing costs!!!