And I am sure that on top of the list of unwanted situations is “I still haven’t got my money!”. Here is some business advice that could avoid such unpleasant issues.
First of all, I want to say this topic has been extensively discussed on forums where designers meet, especially on emptees.com , where pro designers and noobz alike (I sure hope no one is offended by me using such slang) have often discussed the same problem: what to do when you don’t get paid as expected, how to avoid this nasty problem. As aparticipant in those discussions, I will point out some of the aspects that work well for most people.
A rule that always works is to not send anything unless you get paid up front. Most designers charge 50 percent as a guarantee, others have different quotes of the final price, but the essential rule is to never send a high resolution file until you get at least some of your money. You will send mock-ups, details of your work, but never something that could get printed without you knowing- this includes drawings that could get live-traced, always use a watermark. This does not guarantee that the client won’t ask someone to copy your design for very few dollars, or that they won’t use the low-res for printing anyway (ever saw a printed design that looks like jap porn with your name here written all over it? That’s why). To sum up, if they pay the first rate, it’s safe to say that they will pay the whole price. Worst case situation, you still got 50 percent, better than no payment.
What if the client forgets to pay the rest of your money and stops answering your calls/mails after you send the original design? In this case, having a written agreement, stated as a binding contract and signed/electronically confirmed by both sides helps a lot. You can use that contract in order to press charges, or in order to send invoices reminding the client that the more they delay the payment, the more you will have to add to their bill. Set some clear dates for the process of payment, giving deadlines as often as possible. Sure, as a designer, you understand how hard it is to meet those deadlines sometimes, but you also know how important those are. Summing up, use a written form of agreement that clearly stipulate the obligations of both parties before you even start working on a design.
As another argument, you can threaten that you will make any type of unwanted situation public on forums and designer communities, which will havea negative effect on that customer’s reputation and business, also meaning that that customer will have a very slim chance of getting some work done by another designer.
These are only two of the methods you could use in order to minimize the possibility of not getting your payment, but these two are a must, especially when working with new customers that you don’t trust/know that well.
Please don’t forget that creating a good collaboration environment requires efforts from both parties, so if you want a good client, you need to be a good provider. It’s important to establish a reputation as a professional and to act like one, in order to be treated the way you want by your customers.