I’ve been pretty lucky in my freelance career so far, most of my clients are excellent and the rest of them are amazing. Great people to work with, willing to experiment, and open to suggestions. One of the best things about these folks – many of them are excellent at referring new business to me. The best way to tell someone you value their work is to refer new clients to them, and I’m grateful that many of my clients are willing to do this for me.
I trust people. This might not always be the best business practice, but it is how I like to work. I’ve got (in my opinion) a pretty generous payment schedule that helps some of my clients stay cash flow positive’ish, and unless it’s a huge project (or a bit of online sleuthing reveals some previous payment challenges), I rarely require a payment upfront from someone that’s been referred. This has been working for me for quite a while, and I don’t see any reason to change it in the immediate future.
I was warned early on in my new career that I was going to get stiffed, that people were going to try and take advantage of me, and that for the most part, nobody would be willing to pay the rates I was charging. Luckily, I’ve only had two bad experiences in the past year, one client that I had to fire (another post, another time), and the other was a client that didn’t pay. Not that he refused to pay – he just disappeared. I’ve got his name and number, and I’ve tried to contact him multiple times (I even hired someone on Fiverr.com to contact him for me), but I haven’t had an email or a phone call from him, and that quick project started just about a year ago.
He was referred by an excellent client of mine, and all he needed was a quick write-up to close his posts on some online forums – specifically not for his website. “Just a paragraph – it’ll be the easiest $50 you ever made.” We hammered through the copy, he was pleased with the product, and I submitted the invoice. The first cheque never arrived, the second cheque never made it here, and the promise of an interac email never came to fruition, yet the copy we created was on over 20 sites, including his website.
Oh well – it wasn’t a huge amount of money, and it wasn’t a client that was going to develop into a long term relationship. It was a learning experience, but not one that is going to make me change the way I do business. My promise to my clients, I will work hard for you. All the time, every time. If you like what we create – please share it with others. If you don’t, let’s work together to make something that meets or exceeds your expectations, but please don’t tell me that the project is going to be the easiest money I’ve ever made….