Working with Shitty Clients Ep. 2: — When Clients don’t pay you.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!

Client: Hey [insert name here], just checked out your work online. You do really great stuff. I’m already a fan!
Creative: *bathes in hero worship*
CR: Na God oO. We only do what we can.
CL: So I wanted for find out if you are available to work on a project I’m currently running. It’s about blah blah blah with blah blah and a lot of blah blah blah blah. With this, we want to blah blah blah blah change the world blah blah blah.
CR: Okay. This will cost you ₦x00,000 and I can wrap this up in 5 days.

CR: *ring ring*
CR: *
ring ring ring ring*
CR: *
ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring*
Hello? Who’s this?
CR: Hi, Mr CL. Just a soft reminder. It’s been 3 weeks past our agreed date of payment and You’ve even had me working on things that aren’t covered by the bill we both agreed on. Please, I’d like to know when i can expect alert in my account.
CL: Ehen, that’s true sef. How much am I owing you again?
CR: It’s reflected in the invoice I sent to your email.
CL: Haba, beht you know I don’t use email that well na.
CR: Sorry sir, but the Bali poster corrections were done via email, after you had made many statements, in the same email, threatening to destroy my reputation in town.
CL: Haba, someone cannor play with you again? You children of nowadays. So how much, I can’t check my email from here.
CR: We agreed on ₦x00,000.
CL: *whistles in latin*
CR: Yes sir.
CL: How come? I’ve not even started using it and I haven’t gotten ROI on it yet. You know how the markets are these days. Financial data from New York times even suggest that the thing sef is no longer in vogue and demand has fallen so i cannot use it anymore and that’s a loss for me and my business. So you’ll understand if I’m unable to pay you this time but I’m very confident that the next time we work together, we will get it right.

CR: Sir, I really don’t care much for that. We agreed on a fee, i got the work done, it’s time to pay me.
CL: Wiesh one come be your own sef? Because of ordinary design wey my nephew fit do. My nephew just graduated from that….what’s the name of the school that one pastor owns like dis…
CR: Co — 
CL: Ehen that one, my nephew graduated first class in computer science, I am sure he can do this thing better than you and for free sef. 
CR: *awkward silence*
Sir, I just want my money. That’s all.
CL: See this one oO! Wait first, why can’t you dash me this one? 
CR: How would you feel if I used your office for free?
CL: Eeehn, that one is diff — 
CR: No sir, they’re the same thing. You can’t work for free and you shouldn’t expect me for work for free either.
CL: So you don’t think that you can benefit from all th — 
CR: Oh Gawd, don’t say it!
CL: — e exposure I bring for you through my connections? I have connected friends. When they see your work, they’ll come and ask me and i will direct them to you. Is that not how business is run?
CR: No, sir, Business is run with MONEY! Exposure cannot — 
CL: What’s even doing you sef? All this plenty talk for how much? Because I wanted to help — 
CR: Sir, I think I’ve had enough of this. My money. On Monday. Make it happen or funny things will happen.

Take Aways

  1. Always get the client to commit. 
    A down payment of 40–50% of the agreed sum is usually a rule of thumb. Financial commitment by the client shows that he’s serious about getting his work done and places an imperative on your end as a service provider to deliver.
  2. Document EVERYTHING
    Emails. Agreements. Scope of Work. Brief. Let there be a paper trail. Had an offline discussion? Follow up with an email outlining the agreements and course of action. It cements everything in stone and keeps everyone in check.
  3. Use Tools.
    Like seriously, you really should stop designing your own invoices, it’s a waste of time. Use WaveApps (free) instead. Or Freshbooks. Really useful for tracking invoices and payments. Very customizable and easy to use.
  4. Educate the Client
    In gaining client trust and building a relationship with them, remember to help them understand the process. You’re a designer, not Houdini. Guide them through every step of your process. Pretty helpful for managing expectations.

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