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Topic: Doing custom/freelance work?  (Read 431 times)
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fluxxii
« on: August 13, 2009 10:22:13 AM »

For all those who do custom or freelance work, how exactly do you do it?

I do freelance web design, which isn't exactly craft related but I figured that they would be similar. Plus, I'm starting to look into taking custom orders for my crafts anyway, so info and tips on both aspects would be awesome.

But lately I feel like I've been losing clients because they don't want to pay fairly or use me to get ideas out of, but don't actually pay. It's very frustrating. So, what do you do when you're taking custom orders or doing freelance work? Do you have a contract beforehand? What about payment - do you get paid before or after? What if the client is unsatisfied with your artwork/craft?
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2009 11:01:27 AM »

You definitely need a contract up front. You should ask for half up front and half when you're done. You should write into the contract a clause that says you'll give them at least a few rounds of revisions (but don't let them drag it out forever, you know?). You could also offer them a "recreate" depending on the project for the future, that's an incentive for them to come back to you.

He also suggests this site as a resource http://www.aiga.org/
There should be sample contracts there. Smiley

(This is from my graphic designer partner Cheesy)
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2009 05:31:26 AM »

I don't typically have a contract when I'm doing custom work $500 and under; if I took half I would have to spend time collecting the other half, and it's not like I'm going to produce something somebody doesn't want. No pay, no play, that's my motto, and I've got plenty of satisfied customers to gush over me if someone's wary of paying ahead of time. I instead have a lot of cover-my-arse policies and I'm not afraid to remind some folks that I don't want to end up making $3 per hour because they can't decide on the perfect shade of green.

If you are doing a contract, though, it should basically tell the customer not just what they're going to get, but what they'll get  for the money you agreed on. Surprises are never appreciated. If a designer becomes frustrated with a customer it's usually because the customer doesn't know what the rules are: deadlines; limits on examples and revisions; who supplies the text and text revisions; if the customer has graphics or photos, does the price include fixing them if they're on the low quality side; who owns the copyrights to the final design; the cost of going beyond the revisions limits or deadline (this is the real control mechanism for the customer to think more deeply about revisions and time).

I also have a tiered refund system in case Ms. Customer's brother/aunt/mother/nephew comes along later and says they'll do Ms. Customer's work for free. It happens. If I've sent the customer draft 1 they've already used 50% of what they paid. Subsequent drafts are at lesser values. If they've gotten a draft 4, there is no refund as I've done all the work

For craft stuff, basically the same rules apply, and a sketch of the object should be signed off on along with photos of any materials you might use that have visual impact on the piece you're making.

Whenever you do custom work you will get fewer people who are in tune to the value of it. That's just the way it is. They see things ready-made for less, and don't understand that changes take time and skill and therefore money.
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