It Wasn’t A Sequel To Begin With
November 29, 2012 – 18:32 | No Comment

My 3rd novel wasn’t meant to be a sequel to the 2nd novel in the first place. Then something happened. Characters began to beg to be included in the story. Thus, a sequel was born.

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Home » Freelance & Business, Freelance Talk

Freelancer: When Client Robs You

Submitted by on April 27, 2010 – 03:035 Comments

And I really do mean (literally) robbing you off your hard work, time and creative juices. Let me share with you a personal experience.

A couple of years ago, my friend who was an Art Director came to me and said he needed copywriting services for a business proposal he was putting together for a client. It was not our first partnership together and this dude has quite a good reputation for getting great clients and jobs done. The project was a huge one. I gave him a quotation and everything went on well. Just as we got 70% of the work done, the client disappeared. Without paying a single cent too. That project was worth RM10k – I lost RM3k for my part of services. My friend chased the client right down to Indonesia and then Hong Kong before we lost trace of them totally.

I might have lost a great deal in that project – money, time, creative juices, ideas, etc. – but I gained one important knowledge: As a freelancer, you have to protect yourself from being robbed by your very own clients. And here are some tips on how to prevent clients from robbing your hard work.

Get them to sign on the quotation. Before you start working on a project, work out a quotation based on the brief you have received. Then, discuss the quotation with your client. If they are satisfied and agreeable to your quotation, get them to sign on the document. Make sure they put down their signature, Identification Card number and perhaps company chop. Politely tell them that you just want to get things done professionally. Clients who mean well and really want to hire you for the project would be willing to sign it off for you without much fuss.

Ask for down payment. Personally, when a project goes beyond RM1k, I would usually ask for a down payment from the client. Because when the charges are high, it also means the amount of work required of you is a lot. You don’t want to be working on many things and putting in so much effort without getting paid at the end of the day. So just in case, for high-costing projects, always ask for a down payment (unless you really trust the client a lot!). If it is a repeated client, normally I would not ask for down payment because our trust is based on the previous projects. Nevertheless, it’s a personal calling. You decide what is best for yourself.

Ask client to pay first. If you are working on something that requires you to fork out money during the project, always get the client to pay you first. For example, client has agreed on a visual which you propose and the next step is to purchase the image from the photo gallery. Don’t use your own expenses to pay for the photo (even though you will be charging the client for it later). Always get the client to pay for any third party expenses during the project so that (just in case they don’t pay you later) you won’t have to suffer the lost. At least, if they rob you of your time and effort, you didn’t have to lose money too.

Never pass them any softcopy until the cheque clears. This should be a culture for all freelancers. When you are working on a project, always find ways to present your ideas and work to clients without giving them anything. You can present your ideas on a laptop or print out hard copies. At the end of the day, if they want to run away with your ideas, at least they still have to pay someone else out there to re-create what you have created. For that extra cost, they will stick to you like a glue. And if they ever do ask for soft copy, always send them a low-res copy. Only pass them all the raw files and soft copy when you have received your payment. That way, they can’t run away with all your hard work.

Warn your fellow industry friends about it. I have met a client who has robbed so many people in the industry, I wonder why people still fall into his trap. He goes from one freelancer to another, getting them to work out the projects he want, and then runs off with their hard work without paying a cent. So if a client robs you, don’t be embarrassed about it. No one will judge you for having bad clients. Tell your friends about it, warn them about it. So that someone else out there won’t be robbed by the same client too. If your friend has a bad experience with a specific client, I am sure they will share with you too so that you won’t fall into the same trap. As freelancers, we must help one another. And this is one way to do it.

Remember, you have to play smart. Especially if you are a freelancer. Cause you can’t afford to sue them; You can’t afford to chase them all over the world for that amount they owe you, that’s why clients take you for granted. Because freelancers are harder to trace. They don’t get into much trouble robbing us. So play smart, and protect yourself. We are freelancers, but we are not here for people to rob us. We are here to make the world a better place with our skills and knowledge.

Originally written by Gina Yap Lai Yoong © 2010

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