Clarity is key

The scramble to snatch up scraps of work can sometimes cloud the details of exactly how much a job is worth and when we are going to get paid. This is almost always a mistake.

Negotiate and agree payment terms at the point of sale, not afterwards. Afterwards is too late. Either a genuine misunderstanding can come to light or someone might try to rip you off by offering less than initially agreed. If you have already done the work, it may be too late.

You don’t want to be in a situation where your client is saying: “I thought that was included in the price,” when you thought it would be for an extra fee.

Whatever deal you agree, make sure you put it in writing – an email – and that you keep a copy. Whatever your terms – and they may vary from job to job or from one client to another - make your terms of trade clear and unambiguous. Set out:

  • The details of the job, including any dates, quantities or other conditions you have accepted and what is excluded
  • Payment amount (s)
  • Limitations – any restrictions you have put on them using your work, such as copyright, ownership, repeat fees,
  • Date of expected invoicing
  • Credit terms (when you expect to get paid), including stating your intention to use the late payment legislation.

Once you have done the work or supplied the goods or service, get a confirmation that what you have supplied has been received and check that the customer is satisfied with the quality and number delivered. Errors or faults are often used as an excuse for delaying or reducing payment.

And get that invoice in sharpish.

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