I am a graphic design freelancer and I have a client. I designed banners for him for his business. I charged 2 banners for only $80. Also, I gave him MULTIPLE options to choose from. I also told him, if there is anything that needs to be changed and edited, I can do it. First, I send him online multiple options of each banner in b&w. He liked them and chose one of the banners to add colour/background. So, I gave him multiple colour options. And since then, he hasn't emailed back for 4 days. He won't email me back and I haven't gotten paid. What do I do in this situation? I should have asked for 50% deposit up front. Please help.
4 days isn't so bad. You can start being worried after 2 weeks. Clients are often busy and maybe the client also needs to see with his team what banner to choose and what revisions should be done. Keep in mind that your client might be dealing with big purchases, employee issues, equipment failures, etc. The small design projects are not always a huge priority to them and they might not know that you're all stressed about this.
I think it's better to wait a few more days and simply write back to him at the beginning of the week. One way you can get some updates (and not sound too desperate) is simply by asking something like:
I'm just checking if you received the last files I sent you. If you didn't let me know and I'll be happy to send them again!
I haven't receive any instructions for revisions, and if you already emailed them, would it be possible to send them again? I just want to make sure I'm not slowing down the design process.
I look forward to hearing from you. Have a good day!"
You really have to not harass your client and keep it laid back. It's also good if you look like you're just checking on the process as part of your job, and not because you want to get paid. If you look too desperate and mention the money issue all the time, that could project that you don't trust your client and this can be very insulting for a busy entrepreneur.
With the example I gave you above, you are asking your client to reassure you that you didn't make a mistake or missed a file. You're also showing that you care about his project. And you look friendly. Who knows how many upset people your client met that day! Don't be one of them ;)
Yes it's better to ask for some deposit before starting the job but indeed some clients don't like that. One way you can motivate them for a deposit is by giving a small rebate on the total project if they give you a deposit. Or offer many banners at wholesale price with a deposit and make your rebate worth it. Fix your price for one project without deposit to look less appealing and mention the economy he will do by using your wholesale or deposit system. Adjust your prices accordingly.
Your client may ask what's the logic of this system. what I tell my client (and it's also true) is that the deposit guarantees a priority for my services and they get scheduled to be completed first. It also, as an artist, gives you peace of mind and it makes the creative process easier for you if you don't have to worry about the payments.
Regarding the contract, that's something that won't magically protect you. It's better to have one to set the terms yes, but legally, you wouldn't start a legal action against a client for a $80 job and pay hundreds (if not thousands) of lawyers fee for this! So the contract is more to make sure you're on the same line and to explain your terms. For this, you can keep it simple. They might appreciate it because that will also give them some guideline on how you proceed with each project. But legally, for small projects, it's almost a decorative feature to have a contract.
Send email after 3 days, then after 5 days, then once in a week. Sometimes I hear back from them after 1, 2 or EVEN 3 months. Its normal! Some clients are really really bad.
I use Google Apps for Work, meaning, I have registed my company email with Gmail, so its like firstname.lastname@example.org and I login from Gmail.com, this gives me chance to have some really good plugins/extension within Chrome+Gmail. I have something called "Sidekick" formal name Signal. When I choose to send with Sidekick, I get notification whenever the client opens the email. I start getting checking email and get ready for them to send reply, often they answer within 2-3 minutes after and I am 100% ready to read their reply and reply them back. When I am fast they become also fast.
Some clients have strict email policy, e.g. they only check e-mail during certain times of day, if I dont reply them when they reply I have might have to wait for the their next cycle. So I always prepare myself when I get the notification.
what is a nice way of asking 50% deposit?
What I do is I tell them "I require a 50% downpayment for all new clients before I can begin work."
If the job is really big, I will only ask for 25% or 30% up front. They should not get weird or reluctant if they are legitimate business people. When you order a product from a website, you pay before they ship the item, not after you receive it.
If they hesitate or complain about the deposit, that's a red flag to me, and indicates it's someone I don't really want to be doing business with.