I love to talk about the subject of money and designers. Our field is so interesting because we as artists have to be the designers and the accountants.
We have to set our prices and be a collections service. But what makes us even more unique is that we have a service that a lot of people don’t take seriously when it comes to money. When I started out, I didn’t require a deposit upfront. I figured it would just be easier to wait until everything is finished and the client was happy with the final product. “Of course they would pay me on time,” I thought. ‘Why would anyone try to take advantage of little ol’ me?” Word to the wise, don’t put anything past anyone. Some of my closest clients, and dare I say friends, were sometimes the reasons for my frustration when it came to accounts receivable. I’ve heard every excuse in the book, while they wanted their designs promptly with no errors and a ribbon on top. Well, it didn’t take two brick walls to fall on me to realize that requiring a deposit upfront is not only a good idea, it’s a must! You should require a percentage of the total design cost upfront, in hand (check cashed!) before beginning any work. After I started to do this little practice, it became easier and easier to see who my slow payers would be. It also gives your client a wakeup call as to whether they are financially ready to go ahead with their design work or not. Some people know they need a logo, but if they can’t afford a couple hundred dollars for it, they might not be ready for business the way they think they might be. And you shouldn’t have to suffer for it. I like 50 percent upfront. Some people may require only 30 percent or 20 percent, but whatever percentage you require, make sure that if you never saw that client again after the first draft, that the down payment is enough compensation for your time up to that point. The client will be more likely to continue on schedule with you now that money has been invested, and you don’t feel slighted for doing “free work” just in case a client backs out.