Like any other business, you'll run into customers who will change their minds about using your costume design business. The problem is that you can end up spending a lot of time just to work up a proposal or to work on the project. You can protect yourself against last minute cancellations if you do the following:
Charge an Initial Consultation Fee
When you meet with a client to discuss their needs, you'll end up sharing ideas and your expertise. That consultation takes time and you end up offering something of value. You should charge for it up front, and you should be paid at or prior to the consultation. One incentive you can offer customers is that the fee will be deducted from the final project price.
Request a Deposit
Use a contract when working with clients. You can find a sample costume contract here. You can also find templates online if you do a search for a "personal service agreement." You can tweak the agreement to fit your needs. In the contract, request a 50 percent deposit when the agreement is signed. Stipulate that you'll deduct your time from that deposit, and that the remainder of the fee will be due when the project is completed. That way, you know how much work you're guaranteed payment for.
Deliver Project after Final Payment
Wait until you receive the final payment before you deliver the project. You may not get paid, and it's an emotional and legal hassle to collect payment after the fact. Protect yourself by holding on to the costume until the customer is satisfied and pays you in full for it.
If you take these precautions, then you'll avoid not getting paid for your costume design work. Make sure to sign a contract before you get started.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.