When clients are late in making payments or simply choose not to pay at all, those who work in graphic design (and put all of their creativity into every project) often become jaded with the industry. If you are experiencing payment issues, use the following tips to help you ensure that you get paid without damaging your reputation:
- Speak with the client about the issue; having a face-to-face meeting is preferable, but over the phone may have to do. Explain your point of view, then let the client explain theirs. More often than not, the issue is a result of miss communication.
- Send a number of ‘payment due’ notices, often a week or so apart, so that there is a paper trail of your requests for payment. Finally, send a late notice and inform the client that if they do not pay within a certain time frame you will be sending the issue to credit bureau.
- Keep hold of the graphic design work until the issue is resolved. Even if the client has samples or drafts of the finished product, if you still hold the original files you are still technically the owner of the work. Make sure that samples and drafts are watermarked.
The moment that a dispute arises over a graphic design payment, you should pull out the original contract that the client signed and look at the original price that was agreed upon (as well as additional costs due to changes), the payment structure and clauses that state what to do in the event of late or nonpayment. If you bring these to the attention of the client, they should be willing to pay.
You might be a designer who has never really had to deal face-to-face with clients before, or you might be a client who is seeking design work for the first time. For whatever reason, talking about a graphic design portfolio can actually be a difficult and intimidating task – you don’t want to use terminology that the client won’t understand and you don’t want to insult their work after all.
The first thing to understand is that this is not easy, especially for designers, but it is certainly a good skill to learn. Try not to be afraid of making mistakes when discussing a portfolio; instead, treat each meeting as a training opportunity that teaches you what is and isn’t okay to say. For a designer, the aim is engage potential clients in your work. For a client, the aim is to gather more information.
Clients will like to discuss your graphic design portfolio because they are trying to determine whether you possess the skills to undertake their project, whereas designers will like to discuss it so that they can show you that their work is of a high quality. By being aware of these reasons, you can ensure that you don’t alienate the other party during the discussion and that you answer all queries.
Finally, you must be aware of how the person (or persons) you are speaking with is reacting to your comments. As a designer, watch for the clients’ reaction when you briefly explain a project that is similar to their own. As a client, look for the artist’s reaction when you ask them questions about their graphic design work or experience.