The most important part of freelancing is the big reward when you are finally finished with the late nights, client meetings, notes, revisions, etc.. The glorious day when you open the mailbox and see an envelope with a handwritten letter addressed to you. You open it and cha ching!!! All that work has paid off and you can now go cash your check.
But wait, it’s not always that easy. I have heard excuses from; “it was sent out weeks ago”, “I thought that was all included before”, or something as crazy as “I didn’t hear back from my client so I don’t think I can pay for this”. All kinds of excuses as to why you haven’t been paid yet.
So as simple as this may seem, having an online invoicing tool will help you get an edge up on getting paid quicker. First off, they can now use a credit card if need be. It’s instant and within minutes they can fulfill the invoice online and you have your cash. This is great if you require final payment before delivery files. They have no excuse to not plug in their CC info and have you deliver the files.
Now some of the processing systems do take a day or so do clear the payment, so keep that in mind. You never know when someone is sneaky, cancels payment or some other trick.
I recently started using www.wepay.com. In minutes I have an account set up and I am already sending invoices to clients. There are plenty of services like this out there, but I enjoy the design and ease of wepay. I’m in no way affiliated with them. You can use whatever app you want and here are some others to look at.
And just remember that if you have a client you have done work for and agreed upon a certain wage and have delivered on your deal… and they give you a hard time; there are 4 simple words to tell them. F U PAY ME.
If you receive an email and the body reads something like…
"Hi, how much for a logo?"
Run the other way!
There’s people you want to work with and then there’s nightmare projects. That is the start of the bad dream. If someone doesn’t show respect to introduce themselves and explain a bit about what they’re trying to achieve, they aren’t serious about commissioning you for work.
I’ve been freelancing for 5 years and this formula has been very comfortable and profitable for me. Here’s a bit of advice for new freelancers.
I prefer to be on retainer with one client/agency 20 or so hours a week. That covers your paper bills/expenses. The other 20 hrs a week you can choose good clients with cool projects. A retainer client is one which usually want to have you “on call” throughout the week/month/year as if you are part time. You’re an extension of their team. This will happen when you deliver good work for people and they typically want you full time. But remember, you set out to freelance and carve your own path. Talk with them about an ongoing, slightly discounted, monthly rate that works for both of you and what the expectations will be. Typically it will be a flat price for a certain amount of hours per week/month.
I also prefer working with agencies or other creative studios because:
1. Bigger budgets
2. Bigger (not always better) projects and clients
3. There’s less educating you have to do.
Smaller client’s “may” require more hand-holding and could have widely varied expectations. They are typically less knowledgable about hiring creative services and the process. And rightfully so, they don’t do this every day.
My keys to success have been:
1. Do great work and clients will want to keep you.
2. Be available (be a hero, come through when clients are in tight situations and need your help.)
3. Don’t promise a deadline you can’t keep.
4. Always deliver on time or re-manage their expectations ahead of time.
5. Be up front and aware of your time and scheduling. If you can’t make it happen don’t take it on.
6. Get 50% deposit up front from all new clients!!! No exceptions.
7. Don’t stop chasing down money owed to you. If possible get the remaining 50% before delivering final assets.
Make your own way!
Best of luck.