How to get paid on time

How to get paid on time

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Getting paid on time when you are a freelancer or just starting out on your creative career, can be the difference between making or breaking you.

When I was starting out I had no idea that I could set the date that invoices needed to be paid by. I thought I was at the mercy of the people that I worked for as a freelancer. I now know that was wrong.

When we hustle for work and make new client and customer contacts we are building relationships. We each come with a way of working and we need to compromise to be able to work together. This I believe should also extend to payment plans as well.

When we start out or work with a new client, we are so grateful to get the work, we want to be on our best behaviour and hope that they will hire us again.
Money is one of those areas that as creatives we still struggle to have conversations about, but it is one of the most important things that we need to do.

We have all heard creatives say “Oh I’m no good with figures.” but this is really a way of saying “I don’t understand figures, or I’m scared of figures, or I don’t know how to ask for help about money”.

I don’t want to ever hear you say again that you are no good with figures! If you can use an ATM machine, then you can figure out some basic book keeping. At its most simple level all book keeping is, is money coming in and money coming out.

We all played with money boxes as kids adding up all of the coins that we had collected, and it is no different now that you are freelancing. I’m not the world’s best mathematician, but I know that I don’t have to be. I can use calculators or pay a monthly fee to use software like Kashflow.
As creatives we have so much more access to help to get our figures sorted out, than we ever did before.

Yes it can be boring, but it is the life blood of our career so we should show it some respect. Just as you wouldn’t feel good living on junk food your whole life, you need to look after your money in the same way and feed and care for it. How we get paid on time is a big part of that care package for your finances.

In the podcast I talk about ways to help you get paid on time and have designed a getting paid checklist for you to use.You can listen to it below.

To download the checklist click HERE.

When you start a new relationship with a client or customer find out who is actually going to be paying you.

  • Is it them, or someone from the finance department?
  • Get their name, email address and direct phone number before you start the work.

Having these conversations at the beginning will save lots of heart ache in the long run.

Next you want to work out what terms you want them to respect.

Does that mean that you expect payment on receipt of the invoice, or that you are paid in instalments as parts of the work is completed? By being asked to be paid in instalments it offers you some protection. If they can’t pay you for the next chunk of work, then it means you won’t start it until they have paid you for the previous work you have done. This is very useful if you are a designer, as you will be working closely with the clients and going backwards and forwards to make changes with them etc.

If you are a photographer, (like I was) it is harder to ask for payment as you go along, but there are other ways of doing it. You can supply watermarked photographs, or if you still work on film then you can supply watermarked contact sheets and hold onto the negatives until you are paid.

I have had terrible experiences in the past working for glossy magazines who said they would pay me monthly (and I didn’t know I could negotiate those terms). I waited to be paid monthly and then the magazine went bust with me losing 3 months worth of work, and having to fight with the bailiffs to get my negatives back. Don’t let this happen to you!

If they can’t afford you, then you need to ask yourself if it is worth working for them. Magazines and newspapers have a policy of only paying monthly, and sometimes longer. I still think that there are ways to work around this, as I mentioned before about holding onto the negatives or making sure you get some petty cash up front to pay for expenses.

We are often so excited to have the work our professional brain leaves the building! Believe me, I have been there. It is much harder to claw back money once the work has started than to negotiate terms for that work at the beginning.

They may say that their way is the only way, but if they really want to work with you I always think there is some compromise. After all this is all about relationships.

  • Can you get per diems (money for food, parking, hotels etc) up front?
  • Can you get them to pay in instalments if they can’t pay the whole fee on time?
  • Can they pay you some of it out of petty cash?

If you keep meeting brick walls you need to ask if you really want to work for these people. It might seem like a great place to be, but there is little point working hard for them if they are not going to pay you on time when you need the money for the work. All you get if that happens is a feeling of loss and bitterness that they took advantage of you.

As single freelancers it is always hard to negotiate the money alone, but once you have tried it once, you can do it again and again. As you build your reputation, you can set the way your payment plan works, and if they don’t like it, then you need to ask yourself if you want to work with them in the long run.

Too many young people come out of University or start their careers doing work for free. I beg them to stop.

It isn’t only that they are being taken advantage of, but it also damages the industry that they are entering. I have seen too many young photographers, designers and artists giving their work away for free again and again. It often comes down to confidence and the lack of skills to negotiate.

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Dealing with difficult clients.

Dealing with difficult clients

It doesn’t have to be painful.

There will have been some point during your career when you have had to deal with difficult clients. You may have started off well with a good relationship, but as the work commitments piled on the relationship broke down.

Usually there is a basic cause to the problem and 9 times out of 10 it usually relates to communication.

Communication can break down due to a number of reasons. They might have given you more work than was agreed, or else they keep moving the goal posts, or they keep making changes to the work which leaves you with many more hours than you imagined you’d be working on it.

All of this can be prevented. In order for that to happen you need to start at the beginning. I explain how in the podcast below.

When we begin freelancing we often think that we have to say yes to every project. We fear that we will never work again if we say no. I spent my early creative career saying yes to things that I later resented doing- and no one likes an unhappy employee or client.

We need to learn to say no more often. Now I’m not talking about the shouty kind of no which makes the person who offered you the work feel bad. I’m talking about taking the time to say no. Rather than saying yes immediately, ask them if you can get back to them, or check you diary. Anything that buys you a bit of time so that you can weigh up whether this is the right thing for you to be doing. I always as myself these three questions:

  1. Will I enjoy working on this? (You are at work for many hours in a day, so you have to want to work on it).
  2. Will this help to further my creative career? (If we keep on working for free we are going to end up bankrupt and still on the bottom rung of the ladder).
  3. Are these people who I want to work with? (Just as you need to enjoy the work, you want to enjoy working with the people. Trying to work with someone who is difficult from the start isn’t going to end well).

I’m lucky that I have now got enough of my career behind me to be more picky these days, and I spend most of my time saying no to things. Often it is because what they are asking me is actually going to take several days rather than a “can I pick your brain”.

Saying yes to the right things, will help you progress your career, will help you to shine as you are enjoying the experience, and you are more likely to deliver your best work when you have felt valued and excited about the projects.

There will always be days when you need to pay the rent and have to say yes to something for the money, but there are ways to manage that job so that it doesn’t turn into a horrible experience with difficult clients demanding more, and you hating every moment of that. I talk more about how to deal with that in the podcast.

Communication is key. From the beginning, until the end. I would always rather someone was informing me of their progress every day than not at all.

Think about the times that you have been waiting for a bus or a plane and it is suddenly delayed. You sit and wait and no one tells you what is happening.

How do you feel?

I imagine that you begin to feel frustrated and annoyed that no one is telling you what is going on, or when the transport is actually going to arrive. This is how clients feel if you don’t tell them what is going on.

There will be days when we realise that we aren’t going to meet the deadline, or that a problem arises and we need more time. As long as you are communicating this to your clients, reasonable people will understand. Reasonable people can turn into unreasonable people if they are left hanging, with no idea of what is going on.

The second thing that can create difficult clients is money. Money makes the world go around, whether we like it or not. Creatives are particularly bad at pricing themselves correctly. (There will be a future podcast and worksheets to help you with pricing).

Sorting out the money before you even start the job is hugely beneficial. You get those uncomfortable money conversations out of the way first. Often the person who hires you isn’t the person who pays you, so before you do one single hour of work, make sure you discuss how you want to get paid and who is going to pay you.

  • Do you want to be paid before the job starts? (This is possible if you have a good relationship with them. All of my mentor sessions are paid up front).
  • Do you want to be paid in instalments as you deliver the work in chunks? (This can be a great way of working as the client gets to see the work progress and understands that they need to pay for the next piece of work etc. It also allows them to give feedback as the job develops.Plus it protects you. I have had the horrible experience of a magazine going bust on me and months worth of work went unpaid, and I had to contact the bailiffs to retrieve my photographic negatives! Not a nice experience. If I had requested payment in chunks this wouldn’t have happened).
  • Look at what terms you add to your invoices. And if you don’t put payment terms on your invoices do it now! Payment terms basically mean the number of days you are willing to wait until the invoice needs to be paid.I put 15 days for most work, and 30 days for magazines and newspapers as I know their departments take that long to process things. I’ve seen designers as to be paid on receipt of the invoice. Work out what you need in order to survive or what you are willing to wait for, or put up with, and then set your terms.
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Comparing your career will kill it.

Comparison is the theif of joy

You will have days when you are building your creative career and are struck by the Comparison Killer. The comparison killer happens when you are doing just that…comparing yourself to your competition.

Of course a bit of healthy competition helps us to keep moving forward and innovating. It only becomes a problem when it makes the green jealously monster come out of hiding.

It is useful to take the odd look at what your competitors are doing so that you can either improve on what they are offering or else check-in that you are on track, offering what your customers and audience are interested in. There is a balancing act between looking and feeling overwhelmed.

We are naturally tribal creatures. This means that we constantly check that we are doing what our social group approves of, and changing our habits and dress accordingly. We can do this completely unconsciously.

I’m sure that you have seen gangs of teenagers out on the weekends looking like carbon copies of each other, and I challenge you to look at your own social circle. I have no doubt that the majority of them hold similar ideals and taste to you.

The Comparison Killer is bad for our health. It can not only kill our confidence, but also paralysis us from moving forward, or putting our creative work out there.

We need to be brave to create. We are often pioneers trying out new ways of creating products and services. This takes guts, especially if you are doing most of it alone.

In this podcast I talk about why you need to be kind to yourself and what you can do when the comparison killer strikes. I want you to be able to carry on being creative rather than allowing it to kill your confidence.

Continue reading “Comparing your career will kill it.”

Why you need to build a community of clients.

They are so many benefits to building a community of your clients and customers.

When I set up the CWI I wanted to create a place for women to come together, share ideas, help and inspire each other. We have members from over 27 countries that are generous with their advice and support. It is this type of community that I want to talk about today.

When we work as freelancers we have to continually innovate and find new customers and clients to sell our work to. It is important to understand how the climate has changed in terms of customer service and need.

Gone are the days when we met our prospective clients and customers for the first time during an interview. We now use the power of Google to check out who wants to hire us, or whom we can sell to.

I like to think that we have gone back 100 years in terms of customer service. Our ancestors would have shopped in the corner store before super markets were invented. The owner would have known what you bought last week, what you might like from the new stock, how your mother is and whether you need to pay on credit or can pay the full bill this week.

They knew your name, your family and neighbours; they were part of your community. This is how it is now that social media and on-line selling has arrived. We want to know whom we are buying from and if they share the same values as us. We want to know if there is a story behind the work, which makes it all the more valuable by knowing it.

Why you need to build a community of clients

Whether you sell face-to-face, online, with one client or many customers, to make a success you must now create your own community. A community will spread the word, be your biggest cheerleaders and fans.

In this week’s podcast I talk about the benefits of thinking this way. How you can make people value what you sell to them, and how they can become your biggest fans and part of your marketing strategy. I also talk about how they can make or break your business, and must be handled with care. I talk about a FREE workbook that you can get access to if you sign up to the mailing list at the bottom of this page.

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Making A Success Of Failure

I want us to start to embrace the success of failure. Now that might sound like an oxymoron, but I really do want us to celebrate our failures for a number of reasons.

We live in a culture that has forgotten how to reward failure. We are all about the new, the bigger and better. Rather than looking at what failed, and improving on it, we tend to resign it to the rubbish bin and start again.

I blame the cult of celebrity for this desire to have everything new and perfect. Every photo on social media, every piece of art or presentation has to be immaculate. They hide the failures that went before, because who ever gave failure good press?

When I work with University students I am constantly surprised how often they believe that they should be able to do something after the first try. Otherwise they label themselves no good at it. They have declared something impossible without giving it a real try.

Successful failing

As babies we didn’t come out of the womb knowing how to run across the room. We spent days and weeks, falling over, face planting or landing on our knees, then over time we grabbed onto the corner of a chair, or reached up for a parental hand or toy with wheels that helped our progress. We failed. Not once, not twice, but many times. We got up, we tried new ways and eventually we ran.

The next generation have been told that success is possible but without knowing how hard it is to achieve it, or how much mess, tears and failure has to happen first to make that possible.

In this podcast I talk about how we can make failure work for us, how we need to encourage the next generation to fail more often, and how Silicon Valley is actually celebrating failed projects.

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Live on Facebook

Live on Facebook for the first time! That was fun! I talk about how to get support for your creative career, especially when you are freelance and going it alone. I had some lovely women chatting to me and leaving comments. Can’t wait to do the next one.

Do you have something you would like me to cover in a LIVE Facebook video? Share your questions in the comments below.

Facebook live
My first time LIVE on Facebook.

 

 

 

Guerilla Marketing For Your Career

Marketing doesn’t have to be boring!  I want you to think about fun ways that you can get your marketing, and message out in the world.

With that in mind, I have created this podcast all about guerrilla marketing. Guerrilla marketing isn’t about making friends with the furry fellow in the jungle, this is about getting creative and making the most impact with the least amount of resources possible. Sounds like fun!

With very little resources there are ways to make an impact and reach your audience. It is important that you also think about your customer profiling as well. There is no point creating something amazing and then putting it out into the world, at a location your ideal customer would never go to. You can listen to a previous podcast about customer profiling here. CLICK

In the podcast about Guerrilla marketing I explain how you can create campaigns to directly reach new clients and customers, to generate press for your work and above all- to make new sales.

Introducing

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Knowing your value

Knowing your value.

Knowing your value is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself.

One of the things that I constantly see women struggle with is valuing their own worth. They will sacrifice their time and skills to help another, but when it comes to putting themselves forward they make excuses, or else under value what they can bring to the table.

It is only when we value ourselves can we then truly help others.

Knowing your value doesn’t always mean finance either (although it can help you to ask for a raise or higher prices for your work!) It can be as simple as valuing the skills and knowledge that you already have; and what you can do with it.

Now you might be thinking, ‘How can I work out my own value?’

So to give you a hand, I have created a podcast all about this subject. I run through some exercises that you can do on yourself or buddy up to help with your friends.

You can click here to listen to it: CLICK 

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How to network successfully

Together we can do so much.

How to network successfully is one of the latest podcasts from Creative Women International. We are really excited to share this one as it features our first guest, Manjula Bray from www.Selectif.co.uk 

Manjula runs workshops helping men and women to develop their performance so that they can successfully progress to the next level in their career. She is a business psychologist and uses these skills to coach clients through the employment selection process, and also help employers to select the right staff and leadership management for their business.

During this podcast, Manjula shares tips and ways that you can successfully network for your career, whether you are in the job you want or looking for a new one. Not everyone loves networking, (myself and Manjula included) but there are ways that you can make it more bearable and possibly even fun!

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How to use story telling to connect with your customers

I wanted to share my story with you as I’m now back in the UK after my Creative Women International adventures in Macedonia. I was away teaching people from 5 Balkan countries for the British Council. I have never laughed so much at work. Seriously, I had tears pouring down my face most classes. It made me realise how laughter and personal stories bond us together and helps us cross boarders and politics.

With that in mind I wanted to create a podcast about storytelling and why it can help your clients, audience or customers connect to your work. You might not think you are a story teller, but I explain in this podcast how you can become one, and how it will help your work.

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