7 Things Not to Do If You Want to Get Paid for Your Freelance Work

Caroline posted this on Running your business

Not being paid as a Freelancer

You can earn a good living as a freelance graphic designer, or you can go bust. The choice is yours.

What makes the difference between a freelance success and a freelance failure? One difference is knowing what to do (and what not to do) if you want to get paid for your work.

Often, payment troubles begin when there is a mismatch between the work the freelancer actually did and the work that the client expected them to do. That's why getting the right answers before you start--like the answers that Osmosis can help you get--is so important.

Of course, there's more to it. Here is a handy list of what not to do if you want to get paid for your freelance work.

What Not to Do Before You Start Work

Making sure you get paid starts even before you lift a finger to work on the client's project. This preparation takes a little extra work, but it in the end it pays off.

Here are some common mistakes that many freelance graphic designers make:

  1. Not Checking Your Client's Background. If you're going to be working on a project, you need to understand who hired you. Not only do you want to make sure that they're a legitimate business, you also want to understand how that business works and what their needs are. You'll only do your best work if you first do your homework concerning your client. Learning about your client could really mean the difference between getting paid and not getting paid.
  2. Assuming You Know What the Client Wants. You may be an expert in your field, but you're not a mind reader. Yet many freelancers act as though they can read minds. They don't pay attention when the client tells them what they want. Instead, they proceed to create what they believe the client needs--which may not be what the client wants. As a result, when the time for the freelancer comes to collect payment, the unhappy client drags their feet.
  3. Not Bothering with a Freelance Agreement. It's amazing that freelancers still take their work so lightly that they don't even bother to formalize their projects with work agreements. While you may not ever need to take a client to court to collect payment, having a written agreement that details what work you agreed to do definitely gives you an advantage when it comes time to get paid. Fortunately, Osmosis can help with this too.

Now that you know what not to do before you start work, make sure that you don't fall into any of these common freelancer mistakes. Of course, preparing for a project is just the beginning.

What Not to Do While You're Working

Once you've begun a project, there are many more mistakes that you can make that will cause you not get paid on time. Here are a few of them:

  1. Missing the Deadline. Most of the time, deadlines are important. Sometimes the client has planned a launch (or other business milestone) around a deadline. Missing it actually means that the client loses money. Other times the deadline is just an arbitrary date, but even when the deadline isn't vital to the client's business plans, missing it is a sign of bad faith on your part. It tells the client that you can't be trusted.
  2. Disappearing. One of the biggest complaints freelancers make about clients is that they fail to communicate in a timely fashion. Freelancers don't like it when clients aren't available to answer their questions. But oddly enough, freelancers often do the same thing to clients. They ignore client emails. They don't provide progress reports for long projects. In general, they act as though their client doesn't exist. No matter how busy you are, ignoring your client is not a good way to get paid.
  3. Getting Sloppy. No one likes sloppy work--your client least of all. Surprisingly, many freelance graphic designers rush through their projects and turn in work that is less than their very best. There are several reasons why this happens. Sometimes the freelancer underestimated the amount of work involved. Sometimes they took on too many assignments. Or they just might not like the project. Whatever the reason, sloppy work hurts your chances of payment.

As you can see, how you go about your work is very important to getting paid. The work that you turn in should always represent your best effort.

What Not to Do After Your Work Is Complete

Even after you finish a freelance project, you're not really done as far as developing a good client relationship goes.

Here's another common mistake that many freelancers make:

  1. Failing to Follow Up. Once you complete a project, it's important to follow up with the client quickly. First of all, this means sending an invoice promptly. The longer you wait to invoice a client after completing a project, the more likely you are to have to wait for payment. You should also check with the client to find out whether they were satisfied with your work and what you could have done better. Remember, you want to leave the project on a positive note so that the client will hire you again.

It's surprising, but many freelancers put off invoicing their client. Unless you have a pre-arranged agreement (such as a once a month billing), there's just no reason for delay.

Final Thoughts

If you're getting the picture that there's a lot to do to insure that you get paid, good. That's exactly what you need to understand if you want prompt payment for all of your projects. Don't fall into one of the freelancing traps above and miss out on payment for your work. Here's a summary of what we've discussed so far:

7 Freelancing traps

One of the reasons Osmosis was created was to make that work easier for you. They've simplified the process. You don't have to think of new questions every time you start working with a new client. Instead, you'll use their templates to get started. Also, they've got you covered as far as a freelancer agreement goes. And you can customize it all with your own logo and special touches.

What additional steps do you take to ensure that you get paid? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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