One of our readers had a bad-client-experience a few days ago. The client did not pay in-time and created a big headache for our poor designer. The designer sent me an email seeking guidance for taking “legal actions” against the client. There was no possibility of such actions because the contract agreement was not devised properly. So today, on the request of our designer, I’ll describe the basics of forming contract documents. This article is supremely helpful for freelancers and small-size IT house owners.
Note: Each country has unique legislation so rather than focusing the system and rules of just one country, I have kept this article universal. In medical, doctors have a quote “prevention is better than cure”. I’ll be only describing tips to prevent the disasters because the cures can’t be universal.
You should know that not all clients will be trouble-makers. Most of them are very nice actually and you’ll have fun meeting with new people (clients) and working with them. But there is one in many who is a nothing less than devil kind of a guy and today we have that guy focused.
Amount of Data
I said it before in my articles today I repeat it. One of the basic things which will create problems between the designer and the client is the data. Clients are not usually aware that how crucial it is for the designer to know the exact amount of data (text, images, page count etc.). After a few revisions they add more data and that becomes a headache for the designer.
Ask them specifically about pages of the website and their content details.
The most important part of a design contract. On the routine small type orders what I did was 50% in advance, 50% on completion (and a revision). After receiving the total payment I would give them the source files and/or passwords.
Here’s a more scientific method. You can distribute your design process into phases. For example, first phase is the order details when you spend a few hours with the client understanding his needs. 2nd phase is to create a layout (presuming you are making a website design). After a revision when the layout is final, 3rd phase starts which is to fill the content. You can distribute any kind of project into such phases.
You can ask for payment installment at the completion of each phase, this way the client doesn’t feel that he might be robbed (that you take the money and don’t work) and you get the wages before your sweat evaporates.
Note: You can also add a clause in the contract agreement that if the client does not pay you in-time, any installment received is designer’s and the client will have to repay the whole amount again if he decides to complete the project. But I suggest you don’t include such a thing, it offends even the nice guys.
Tip: to the clients who I knew will add additional data later-on, I played this trick. I told them that I charge for creating a layout, and that’s all a designer does. Data filling charges are additional, more the data – more the charges. (I charged very less for just the layout)
Invoicing after every payment is important, it relaxes the client. And for your benefit, you should include the project details (page count, etc.) so the clients keeps getting a reminder once in a while about what was done. Nosy clients usually have a short term memory. You can use Great Online Tools To Complete Your Invoicing Needs
I was going through a rough period of time a couple of years ago, didn’t have any work, proper job or anything. A close friend of mine consoled me with this epic sentence “you don’t have a job or any work, go hang yourself”. If you also need some work and such a devilish clients walks in, you know that this guy will make your life miserable but just for the sake of one project, you take it, you hang yourself. That’s not a good idea. Sometimes you just have to let it go, believe me, better is coming.
Know the data, the exact amount. Schedule the payments according the methods described above. Keep reminding the clients what was done. And don’t hang yourself.