When it comes to the business side of freelance web design or running a web design business, it is essential to collect payments on time so you can pay the bills. Many times though, getting paid on time is easier said than done. For whatever reasons, many web design clients tend to pay late or try to not pay at all. You need to be prepared for this.
Below are some easy ways to help ensure that your web design clients pay for the work you have done. But before we get started, your instincts are everything. If you get a bad feeling when you first talk to a potential client, chances are it will end up being trouble.
It can take time to become one with your web design instincts, but it’s part of our human nature to sense trouble from afar. So be one with your first gut feelings!
Here are 5 tips that will protect you from your web design clients and ensure you get paid
Make it Official
A contract is the easiest way to ensure both parties live up to their agreements. You should have a contract for every project, and it should be detailed. Include dates, deadlines, project details, payment arrangements and most importantly both parties must sign the contract. Having everything in writing can weed out a lot of problem makers and save you valuable time and money.
There are a lot of free sample contracts online, but if you have trouble, don’t be shy about having a lawyer help you. It’s well worth the money and it’s something you should use for every project.
Show me the Money
Another great way to make sure clients pay in full is to at least get a down-payment. How much you ask for is up to you, but common down-payments are 20-50 percent before starting a project. This helps ensure your client is serious about the project and will help stop them from backing out last minute. If you ask for a down-payment, make sure that you put this in your contract details as well.
Hold the Power
If you are building a website for a client, I highly recommend building the website on a test server you own and only you have access to. This can help stop clients from taking what you have done so far and running off with it (Yes, people will do this). Having the files protected on your server can help thwart would-be design thieves and it also gives you leverage when it comes to payment.
Make sure they understand you will build the website on your server and once the invoice has been paid in full, you will then transfer the files to their server and test the website to make sure everything is working properly.
Keep the Pressure On
Sometimes all it takes is a phone call or email to remind clients their payment is due. I would personally start off by just sending them a follow up invoice with a date the invoice should be paid by. If that doesn’t work, I would try calling or emailing them again. Don’t pull the trigger too early and start getting mad or throwing around accusations.
It’s best to keep your calm, send a few reminders and hopefully they will pay up. If they don’t, you may have to turn up the heat a bit. In that case, I would recommend consulting with a lawyer and sending something written in the mail to show them you are serious about business.
Live up to Your Word
The best way by far to get a client to pay up is by producing something they can’t live without. If your website design is awesome and you have gotten it in before your deadline and have met all other contract requirements, your client should be happy.
A happy client is a client who is more likely to pay so they can start using their cool new website right away. Always be a professional, be kind, work hard and you will find projects turning out smoothly more often than not.