4 simple steps to stop yourself from “Free”lancing

After a construction worker finishes hours of work, would you tell him or her “nevermind” after it was done because in the mean time you had found someone better?
Would you expect to work hours at your job doing a specific skill and not get paid for it?
I would hope you answer “no” to both of these questions. Maybe I am being out of line by asking these, but it’s hard to believe anyone would want to go to work without getting paid.
Every week, I put in my 40 hours at work, and do my graphic design freelancing on the side. As much as I love to design, realistically I know that it wouldn’t pay the bills, or probably even a bill every month. I consider my work to be custom, and nothing makes me happier than satisfying a customer’s needs whether it be a logo, poster, brochure, etc. But often they don’t realize that custom designs don’t appear out of thin air. It takes time to come up with the logo, put it on the computer, and tweak it to meet the customer’s expectations.
I realize I am often the root of the cause, putting off that awkward moment of telling someone how much they owe you, and then being too chicken to bring it up at a later date. I do not consider myself a graphic design expert (yet ;))…so I make my prices very reasonable and negotiable since I am still gaining my skills, and most often I am making a design for someone starting their business as well. My goal is to make everyone conscious of how valuable time is. It takes a long time to learn these programs, and once you learn them you learn to respect the images around you that you see online or in print ads.
This is not meant to be towards any of my customers, but more so for those designers and talented people with skills who get taken for granted. Keep your head high and don’t get over worked. There was once a quote that said if you hadn’t gotten taken for granted by a customer, wait 5 minutes. It could be true; however, if you haven’t yet had this happen to you, its not too late! Here are four steps you can take to avoid this problem.
1.Down Payments:
Think of a plan to charge a down payment, or certain percentage for your fee before you make someone something that can take up your sweet downtime.
2. Withholding copywrights
This could be something as simple as holding onto the images or designs until you have received the payment. I really think this works best to avoid having to track down someone for a payment down the road.
3. Pricing Sheets
If you can take anything away from this post, i hope it is this tip: make a pricing sheet! Create an itemized list of your services/design charges and put them on a public forum such as a website or Facebook page. This will avoid anyone thinking you are making up prices or charging someone else more than another. Sounds silly, but just trust me on this one!
4. Negotiate payments before you begin
You may be in the beginning phases of designing, but creating a contract agreement of your payments before you start to even brainstorming an idea may be something to consider. I always charge in sets of three. For example, make 3 initial logo versions, and after that, have 3 revisions to the logos. From then on, charge $15 per every set of 3 revisions
I am not writing this to vent about finances, or my part time job (but what else is social media for!?) I am writing this for the freelancers out there, whether it be photographers, graphic designers, etc., whose work often gets taken advantage of and more than likely has given away their services for free.

Hopefully this comes as a help to you designers and photographers out there! If you have any additional tips, or horror stories about “free”lancing your work, feel free to leave a comment or email me at mollymees@hotmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

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