A new client can be a tricky thing. You never know going in what it will be like. Kind of like dating. They could be your dream client, loving every design idea you create and trusting your abilities. On the flip side, you’ll run into clients who will haggle over cost. If you give them an inch they will take a mile, or worse yet they think they can design and you end up feeling like technical support. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself and stay within the scope of your project. Here are some tips on preventing freelance nightmares:
Revisions—I’ve learned the best way to quote time is include a block of time for revisions. Not rounds or phases. That is too ambiguous. Some client may want a lot of little changes or overhaul of the design. Quoting a set time and stating in the contract that a certain amount of time is allotted for revisions gives them an idea of what they have to work with. To protect yourself from endless revisions, add in a clause stating “If time needed to complete the projects exceeds more than 10% the quoted time the client must grant written approval before any work is done.” If you are upfront about it then clients usually understand.
Scope— It’s VERY important to fully outline the deliverables in the contract. That way if they start adding in little things, for example an extra web page. You can reply, “Sure, that’s no problem. I’ll email a work order for the additional work.” Make sure to always get it in writing even if it’s an email approval you save in your records.
Deposits— Always get at least a 50% deposit before you even touch your keyboard. There are bad people out there who may try to take advantage. This way you’ve gotten part of your compensation. May you never have to go to court. (Most often it’s not even worth it.)
Rights— My philosophy is if you are paid to create custom graphics for someone it is theirs to own. Just make sure to include a clause that stats you have right to use the work for promotional use. Your credit is included on the piece and if it is a print piece at least 5 copies of it for your portfolio. If it is a website I recommend including a software licensing clause that they own the site, they can modify it as they wish, move it, but can not sell your programming for profit. You build a template, they can’t turn it around and start selling your template. Mention that you have the rights to reuse the code in your future projects. It makes no sense to remake the code from scratch.
So They Think They Can Design— One way to steer clear of directions such as, “Make this blue, that bigger, and add a border” is by telling them “Let me know how you feel about the design. Is it too dark or not professional enough and I will work on it.” Sometimes you can nip it in the bud, but certain clients happen to be control freaks by nature. Then you may have to end the relationship. I always tell clients that it’s better to let me explore the possibilities and we may end up with something better than you could even imagine.