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Old 01-27-2014, 09:32 AM
aumom's Avatar
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Default Advice on vetting private clients?

I finally worked up the nerve to go after some private clients and actually landed a couple. (I was shocked!)

Those of you that work for private clients, what safeguards do you have in place to make sure everything's legitimate?

I know many of you ask for partial payment upfront, anything else you can think of that maybe isn't as obvious?

Thanks in advance for helping out a newbie!
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:06 AM
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A very solid written contract is crucial! They need to read and sign before you'll begin.

Good luck!
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:42 AM
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Great job! That's what I need to start doing myself.. it's just kind of hard to work up the nerve. If you don't mind me asking, how did you go about getting private clients? Did you just search for businesses and offer your services through email?
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:02 PM
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I work exclusively with private clients.

I don't do a contract; I try to speak to them on the phone, then I send them an email clarifying all details. For brand new clients, I bill them in advance, usually on a monthly basis. So for example, if you're charging $200 per month for two blog posts per week (or whatever), then just bill them the $200 before the 1st of the month, and make it due then. If it's the middle of the month, then use the date of the 10th or the 15th or whatever makes sense. Your work starts when the invoice is paid. If a client balks, then you might agree to bill weekly instead. I personally might do under $50 worth of work without getting paid IF I had a good feeling about the client, then bill and see how it goes. A client kvetching about paying in advance, however, would not create a good feeling in me, so I'd probably say no thanks!

For my long-term clients (my main clients, I've been writing for for two+ years), I just bill weekly or monthly after the work is done or in the case of monthly, usually around the middle of the month (for the current month... so for one, I billed around January 15 for all of January, and he might pay it around the 20th. Meanwhile, I'm 2/3 done with his month's worth of work. I trust him, I talk to him at least weekly, and actually, he's within a couple of hours of my house, so I really don't think he'd just not pay all of a sudden.)
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:57 PM
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Thanks for the help, ladies. Very good advice, I appreciate it.

Katya: Basically, that's what I did. I am a TOTAL introvert and was terrifed, but I am also quickly approaching my 40th birthday, (I have no idea how that happened, I certainly feel 18!) and just decided it was time to go for it. Maybe I should have prepared a little more, (I certainly didn't think the contract thing through, oops!) but I didn't and I think it'll be ok. If I hadn't gone for it when I finally got my courage up, I never would have done it! If you're thinking about doing it, I would say, stop thinking and just do it.
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:10 PM
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I try to Google them and see if anyone has filed a complaint against them. I also do the deposit up front and a working agreement. If they balk at those things, I get suspicious.
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Old 01-28-2014, 06:20 PM
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If you're an iPhone/iPad user, there's an app that lets you create/send freelance contracts:
https://itunes.apple.com/app/id601561998. Might come in handy; lets them know you mean business.
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Old 01-28-2014, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aumom View Post
I finally worked up the nerve to go after some private clients and actually landed a couple. (I was shocked!)

Those of you that work for private clients, what safeguards do you have in place to make sure everything's legitimate?

I know many of you ask for partial payment upfront, anything else you can think of that maybe isn't as obvious?

Thanks in advance for helping out a newbie!
I started out using contracts, but they are extremely difficult to enforce since most of my clients are international.

Instead, I now just make sure there is an email that outlines exactly what will be done and breaks it into stages. Each stage requires pre-payment, and the client must accept that work before moving on to the next stage.

For jobs under $100 I do the work in a single stage. Anything above that I break into $100-$250 stages.

If your client balks at the idea of paying upfront, be sure to emphasize that the reason things are broken into stages is for both your sakes. You ensure you get paid for your time, and rather than being locked in to a long-term project, the client can change things at the end of each stage if they want.

This approach is invaluable since it is very common for a client to change their mind about what they want in the middle of a project.

Hope that helps
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:10 PM
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For new clients, I would put together a work order or work agreement. It would list exactly what I was providing, how many revisions were included, the due date, compensation and time frame for payment. Then I would send that to the client and ask them to look it over and confirm everything was correct. It wasn't a contract but it was a way to have everything in writing and in one place so there could be no claims of confusion later.
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