Monday, December 7, 2009

The Slow-Ball Client...And What You Can Do

Recently I've been thinking a lot about clients who take their time on revisions--slowing you down when it comes to invoicing for your remaining payment. I find this very frustrating, and lately it's led to a few cash flow problems--not to mention scheduling issues when clients come back for revisions long after I thought the project would be over and done with.

Here are a few solutions I've been contemplating. Some of them are a little out there--but all are pretty tempting.

Charging twice what I need. I determine my prices based on what I need to make to keep my business afloat and pay bills. When I have to wait a long time to get half that from each project, it can cause cash flow problems. Lately my rebellious side has been considering quoting twice what I need on every project, so that I know I can meet my own needs with just the 50% deposit. This way I can sit back, relax and wait for the rest to come in when the project is finished--no more worrying about bills when the end of the month rolls around and the client hasn't gotten back about revisions. It's a bold move, but wouldn't it be great?

Putting it in the contract. This one's a bit more realistic. I've started adding a clause that states something like "remainder will be invoiced upon completion of project OR two weeks from delivery of first draft--whichever comes first." That way I'm not hanging around waiting for a client to get back to me with feedback before sending the invoice.

Charging 100% up front. Some writers refuse to do this, but I kind of think it's reasonable--especially for smaller projects.

What do you do to keep projects rolling?


Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Jennifer, this is incredibly frustrating! I agree that you need to protect yourself from this type of thing. It's very reasonable to write into your contracts that you will invoice within two weeks of submitting copy if you don't get revisions back. Fortunately, most of my clients are responsive about a friendly nudge or two.

Jennifer Williamson said...

In the past, my clients have been really reasonable about this as well. And for those who do take their time, they don't have a problem with me sending an invoice before they get revisions done if need be. But I've been thinking I need more regular processes to handle it, since in the last two months I've had several like this. So frustrating!

Unknown said...

Oh, I've been stuck in the endless revisions loop, too. I'm now putting in the contract a "pay by" date. If the revisions aren't finalized, tough cookies. Holding up my payment for months isn't fair. I give them a few weeks to go over revisions, then it's payment time, like it or not.

Kimberly Ben said...

Jennifer, I agree that this can be a HUGE pain. I notice a lot of writers complaining about the same thing lately - could be the economy.

I state in my agreement that the client must pay the final balance in "x" days (or weeks), but can request revisions within thirty days of receiving the final draft (two complementary revisions, any revisions after that are billed at hourly rate).

I also charge clients 100% upfront for projects under $200.

Laura Cross said...

Aughh.. this is always extremely frustrating and challenging. I added a clause to my contract about 8 months ago that seems to have solved the issue (fingers-crossed). The paragraph reads:

"In the unlikely event that the Client should fail to provide final revision notes on a ghostwritten or edited draft within the timeframe and date listed in the milestones section on this contract, Client understands and agrees that the Writer may be required to re-schedule the remainder of the project to accommodate the changes on the work calendar AND that, in such an event, the Client agrees to pay the full balance due for the project within three (3) business days of the date that Client was required to provide any revision notes."

Mike Chen said...

I put payment terms in the contract. 50% up front if it's over $500, and 30 days due following invoicing. After that, interest collects. In my contract, I also specify that I am authorized to invoice if they don't request revisions over a one-week span. I inform them that they're still owed however many rounds of revisions are left per the contract, but this takes care of the "payment logistics." It's a nice way of saying "don't procrastinate with my money."

If they're late, I tell them I'm flexible and can work with a payment plan. Most of the time, that works in that situation. I've only had one client I had to threaten with small claims court.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Yes! These are all great ideas. My contract is getting changed ASAP. I love the examples some of you have posted of your own contract wording--this is definitely helpful to me and is sure to be helpful to others as well. Thanks, guys!