5 Things Getting Paid

By Nicholas Nesbitt

Nicholas Nesbitt is a Johannesburg based creative specialising in Illustration, Digital Design and Sound Design. These are some of his latest illustrated ramblings. Enjoy :)

1. Get a deposit

Always ask for a deposit. You can negotiate the percentage but make sure you have something in the bank before you pick up that pencil, start coding or strumming those chords.

It’s common practice to ask for a deposit. It keeps the money flowing into your account and it is also a way to weed out someone who is trying to take a chance. Your clients should also feel good about the deposit as it is an agreement that work is in progress.


2. Be flexible with your rates

Never sell yourself short but sometimes it’s ok to be flexible.

Some clients will pay your hourly rate happily, but some might have budget restraints. Try communicate with your client and find out what their budget is. Sometimes it’s worth lowering your rate if there is more work on the horizon or if you are starting out and the job will be an opportunity for growth.

Another way around smaller budgets is asking for a retainer. This way the amount might be smaller but you are able to get a nice cash flow for the remainder of the project.

It’s a difficult balance but the more you interact in the industry the better you will get at this.


3. Make friends with the people who control the money

If I am working for a corporate client or advertising agency I always try make friends with the finance people. Normally the people you are working with creatively dont have anything to do with the money side of things.

Once I have sent off my invoice I will make sure I get the name and number of the person who deals with the cash and towards the end of the month when my invoice is due, I give them a call to remind them about my payment. They might have forgotten about you, this will be a friendly reminder to put your invoice on the top of the list.


4. Invoice as soon as possible

As soon as you have finished a milestone in the project send out an invoice. Some companies will only pay you after 30 days so it’s best to get that invoice as soon as possible.

Try set up a day in the week that you do all your billing. Get it done as quickly as you can. There are loads of free invoicing tools online, so find one that works for you.


5. Be bad

Sometimes you have to call in the reinforcements. Find someone who is more assertive then you to do the dirty work when it comes to chasing overdue invoices or difficult clients. Things can get sticky with regards to money, especially if your client is not paying up. I would regard this as a last resort and would try negotiate things myself before I take this step.

Remember you are a professional and you deserve to be paid on time. Try not take it personally, remember it’s business.

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