How to get a client to pay you, how to get a testimonial from a client, and what to do when your work is stolen by another freelancer.
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Freelance FAQ: How do I ensure a client pays my invoice?
Always start with a deposit – typically 50%. This guarantees your time and services. Before sending over the final project, ensure you collect the remaining 50% first.
- (You don’t need to do this exact split, but collecting 50-100% upfront is the most straightforward way to ensure timely payment and a quality client)
Use a contract, and in it, stipulate that the intellectual property is yours and usage is illegal until payment in full is received.
- Clarify your payment schedule and refund policy in the same contract
- Attaching payment to milestones is an excellent practice for larger projects
- If a client is curious why you don’t offer refunds, clarify the time investment and that you have to turn down other work to complete this project.
Make it as easy as possible for the client to pay (e.g. Paypal, Stripe, Bonsai).
Automate reminders for the client to pay.
Until the client signs the contract and pays your deposit, do NOT start work.
- This stage is where you spend your time understanding, evaluating, and explaining things to the client.
- Once they pay, you should take a more active role.
As always, don’t give them any legitimate reasons not to pay you. Communicate, be on time, and produce quality work.
Clients who have issues paying at the start are likely to have issues paying you at the end of a project. Trust your gut in these instances.
As you get more experience, learn what to charge for, and what to offer as a free bonus.
Friendly emails and phone calls will cover you the vast majority of the time. The more direct the communication method, the harder it is to ignore.
Freelance FAQ: How do you get testimonials from clients?
Ask for one after a successful client engagement.
Reach out to past clients a few weeks or months down the line; see how the project is doing. While you have their ear, ask for a testimonial.
Make it as easy as possible for clients to give you a testimonial.
- Make your request short and to the point.
- Offer some light direction
- Follow up if you don’t hear back within a week.
If a client reveals they’re dissatisfied with your work and they won’t give you a testimonial, don’t treat this as a loss. Follow up; ask about the issues they experienced with you and what you can do to improve.
Feedback from the Inferno: What do I do about another freelancer who stole my work?
(This segment originally premiered over at The Freelancers Union.)
I know you’ve addressed clients stealing work before, but I’m in a slightly different situation. Another photographer – one who I’ve never met – has one my pieces in his portfolio and he’s claiming himself as the creator.
What should I do? Do I have any recourse, or should I just let it go?
– A picture-perfect freelancer
No need to take the Elsa philosophy; there are three things you can do.
Start by writing a polite request for them to take down your work.
After that, you can file a DMCA takedown. Here’s a basic breakdown from the NPPA on how to do that. All you need to do is find the ISP hosting your image and draft your takedown notice.
Finally, you can hire a lawyer to send them a cease a desist. I wouldn’t recommend this one; it’s not going to be worth your time and effort, and attorneys – in addition to being expensive – tend to take cases like this one in very specific circumstances, e.g. if you’ve registered your photo before the infringement.
One thing you should not do is go straight to shaming the perpetrator online; take the high road before you consider the low one. It’s important to stick up for yourself and take necessary steps to protect your work, but it’s unlikely that this will in any way cost you work or somehow tarnish your reputation. Starting an online mob, however, has the potential to do both these things, so tread carefully.
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