How To Avoid Being Ripped Off When Freelancing - PROGRESSING YOUR CREATIVE CAREER
How To Avoid Being Ripped Off When Freelancing
Unfortunately, what we were all taught about the world being a nice, friendly place was a bit misconstrued. Especially in terms of the business world; people will actually throw you under the bus in order for them to succeed or even just save a little bit of cash. We, as designers and creative people, sit at the very bottom of the corporate totem pole. It’s very easy to get ripped off when freelancing, especially when you are just starting out. Lucky for you I have listed a few important tips and tricks for you to remember that will help get you and your freelancing career off on the right foot.
1. The Negotiation Stage
Inevitably, you’re going to need to discuss payment for your freelance work and 99% of the time people are going to try and low ball you, that’s just what business people are like. What you need to do is have a set amount in your head, that you know your skills are worth. Whether that is $20 an hour, $25 an hour, $50 an hour, whatever your amount is, know it and use it as your bottom line and refuse to go any lower. Remember when setting the bottom line that you need to cover expenses like your software, your materials, your travel, your time, your rent, your food. Everything needs to factor in when setting your hourly rate.
2. The ‘This Will Be Good For Your Portfolio’ People
I would recommend stiff-arming anyone that says this to you straight in the face ASAP! Know that as a creative, you are worth a lot and people should have to pay for your skills, just like they pay a plumber to fix their toilet or a barista to make their coffee. Now don’t get me wrong, I have done pro bono work in the past, but only in cases where there was something in it for me, i.e. if it got me into an event or would put into contact with other business people whom I knew I could get a lot of paid work out of or if it was a small indy project that I believed in and wanted to help succeed.
3. Hold Onto Your Files
No matter how hard you work and how good of a job you do there will always be those people that try and stiff you when it comes to paying for the task that you’ve completed. I was working as freelance videographer shooting a promotional video for a Vancouver-based kickboxing studio. I had previously done some work for this guy and knew he was a little bit shady and I had a feeling that he was going to try and stiff me when it came to paying me for the work I did. So, thinking ahead, I finished the project and then created a 30-second demo of the 2.00-minute video. I told him that he would get the rest when he honoured my invoice in full. He was taken back by this and he demanded that I give him the full video and then he would pay me. I refused and stood my ground. He gave me a cheque for $600 of the $1100 that he owed me of which I took straight to the bank and cashed. I told him that I would be holding onto the completed video until he paid the rest of my invoice. To this day he has not paid me the money he owes, nor has he received the final version of the video that I have sitting on my computer.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of business people out there who will try and bully you into handing your work over for less than it’s worth, but it is important that you have the strength to stand your ground and always make sure that you have a ‘few cards’ left in your hand.