As many of you know, being freelancers, is the pain of dealing with payments, as in negotiating your fee, deposits, sending invoices, chasing invoices, it can all be very frustrating.
There are many times when it's all very straightforward but sometimes you get into some complications and that's what this article will focus on as well as how to avoid them in the future.
To set the scene, it was a very common situation, a client hired me for some work over a longer period of time and we had agreed on a fee but we hadn't discussed the matter of a deposit.
Deposits are something that's very common to ask for, especially if it's work that stretches over a longer period of time because it gives you, the freelancer who got hired, a sense of security. It means that even if something happens along the way, let's say the client runs out of money by the end of the project, or they didn't sell enough tickets for the show, or any other excuse they can think of, you still got paid for the work you were hired to do. It will also help you cover any expenses along the way.
Back to the conversation. We had a meeting over Skype and I brought up the matter of a deposit and requested 50% up front. This was all fine and I even got offered to get fully paid straight away.
I'm not sure I would suggest paying everything up front (as a client) because it takes away some security from the client and they end up risking the same things we do if we don't get a deposit.
However, we agreed on that I would get fully paid just before the project started.
So, happy days....right?
A few days later when we spoke again, it was like our previous conversation had never happened.
This time around I was asked why I should get paid before the project had even started and that you usually pay someone when the work is done.
Sure, valid points. But why wasn't this brought up during our first conversation? And if it was I could have explained why it's common to request a deposit and all that.
It was a complete 360-degree turnaround from, yes I'll pay you everything beforehand to I don't want to pay you until our work is done.
After going back and forth and trying to remind the person of our last conversation and what we had agreed on, we agreed on the more common set-up, half before and the other half when we are done with the work.
Great, we reached a deal that worked for both of us.
However, it actually doesn't end there. A few days later I got a message saying that I will get paid in full and that the payment should come in the next few days.
Was this a 360-degree turnaround from the 360-degree turnaround?
So, what's the lesson to take away from this?
Always put things in writing.
This way you can go back and "prove" what has been agreed on instead of having to rely on he said - she said mess. If you do have a meeting, either in person or over Skype, you can politely suggest that you will just put this in an email so we know what we have agreed on.
This is something that will help you sort out any misunderstandings that can come along the way because it's all there, in clear writing.
Now, let me know if you have any stories of weird situations with payments in the comments below.