Being a creative, often times we are so excited to start work on a project that we do not follow the steps to protect our work legally. Sometimes we undervalue our work because we are either just starting out or we compare ourselves to others that we feel are "better than us. I could just be speaking for myself but recently I experienced this EXACT scenario. I agreed to write the music for a very AFFORDABLE price to a client. Long story short, he ended up rewriting the play and not using the music I'd written AFTER I'd already written it. He just refused to pay me. I was upset for a few days then I decided that I'd write this article to help my fellow creative freelance folks out in the case that this has happened to you or to prevent it FROM happening to you in the future.
Now for the juicy part. HOW TO ACTUALLY GET PAID.
1.Send your clients contracts in ADVANCE of beginning work
It's important that you send your terms in advance of you beginning the work and that the client actually SIGNS in before you start. Handshake agreements don't hold up in court so if you want to prove you've been cheated their needs to be some type of documentation that says you two parties have a binding contract.
2. Document Due Dates and make sure you deliver on time as well
Document dates of payment or another correspondence with your clients. It will make a stronger case in the event you did have to go to court over work done and not paid for. Also, you want to hold yourself to the same standard. People start to get real funny when they don't want to pay you what they owe you.
3. In your contract include all your terms.
This is the most important part in my opinion. This is where you can determine the scope of work you will do. For instance, if you write a song for a client and don't include in the contract how many edits, tracks etc, then the client may assume that you will do whatever they ask because they are paying you. This is where you'd say something like (This includes 2 edits: ANY additional edits will be an additional XX amount of dollars.) This ensures the client knows EXACTLY what they are getting and it also makes sure you are compensated for any extra work that you do.
4. Require a Deposit
Last but not least, use the deposit to get started. Clients that are willing to pay the deposit USUALLY pay the rest of the remaining balance. NEVER GIVE THE CLIENT THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE BEFORE THE COMPLETE BALANCE IS PAID. Because there's no way to make sure they'll pay you the rest. If you have a working relationship with the client and you feel comfortable by all means WILE OUT. I personally don't though.
There are many more tips to Making sure you get paid. If you have some ideas yourself, leave a comment.