Modeling can be a very lucrative career to those who are dedicated and work hard. Along with this, you need to face the reality that you are essentially a freelancer. Whether you get work through an agency, manager, or on your own; it is important to know how to manage your finances and making sure you see that money hit your bank account.
Here are some important tips for collecting those hard earned dollars:
1) BE KNOWN AS A PROFESSIONAL
Your reputation isn’t just important to attract and retain your current clients, it can actually play a part in getting paid on time. If you’re rude to clients, late on projects, deliver sub-par work and have a website that screams amateur, then why would a client make paying your invoice a priority?
Prove to clients that you are a true professional worth hiring by always being polite, exceeding goals on time, sharing reviews and showcasing your portfolio on your website.
2) DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS
When you are approached by a prospective client you should do a little digging. Search online for any red flags from your fellow freelancers about the client. You may be able to view consumer reviews on the Better Business Bureau from other consultants who have dealt with the client in the past and were left with a bad taste in their mouth. You should also review their website to make sure that everything appears to be on the up and up.
In short, if you know that the client could become a potential headache, then why would you want to take a chance with them?
3) BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR RATES
What happens when you’re approached by a client, but they can’t afford your rates? Do you decline their business? Or, are you willing to be flexible?
This isn’t saying you should always give clients a break. You deserve to get paid for what you’re worth. It just means if you want to attract clients you want to be flexible with your rates. This is especially true when you’re just starting out, since this will add to your experience and maybe earn you some referrals.
4) MAKE IT EASY FOR CLIENTS TO PAY YOU
Instead of only accepting checks, which have to be sent snail and then deposited into your bank account, you should accept multiple forms of payment. Whether it’s accepting eChecks, credit/debit cards or setting up a PayPal account, you need to make it easy for your clients to pay you.
Most invoicing software allows you to select your preferred method(s) of payment, so a client should be able to pay your invoice with just one-click of a button.
5) INVOICE PROMPTLY
Instead of waiting every month to get paid, you should either bill weekly or immediately following the completion of a job. This not only keeps a positive cash flow, it also prevents you forgetting to send out the bill.
6) NEVER WORK UNTIL YOU'RE PAID
You’re not a debt collector. Instead of spending time tracking down clients and asking why their invoice is overdue, you could be working on other projects for the clients who are paying you. If you send out an invoice and it hasn’t been paid on the agreed upon date, then stop working for that client until the invoice is paid.
Follow up with clients after sending an invoice. If you have a client who has always paid on time and suddenly you don’t receive a payment, you should reach out to them politely and make sure everything is all right. Maybe they missed the email or were in a severe car accident and have been in the hospital.
7) HAVE IT IN WRITING
A contract protects both parties, since it should prevent either party from pulling a fast one (plus it adds to that whole professional perception I mentioned earlier). Contracts also specify the terms and conditions of the project which include everything from expectations to terms of payment. That keeps everyone on the same page. A contract might specify that you require a 30 percent deposit, 50 percent half way through, and 20 percent when completed.
If you don’t have the budget for an attorney, there are plenty of websites that provide contract samples and outlines.
8) GET LEGAL HELP
What happens when a client still hasn’t paid an invoice? If you have an assistant or colleague who is more assertive than you, have them handle outstanding invoices. Follow up with these difficult clients by emailing or calling them and asking for a payment. If all else fails, you may have to ask your attorney to send the client a letter informing them that if the debt is unsettled there will be legal action, such as being taken to small claims court. Another route that I have had to use in the past is to hire a debt collection agency.
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