Artist, artisan, freelancer? 3 Reasons to always get paid in advance

Yesterday on Twitter , someone in Holland asked something about whether or not to get paid in advance for your work.

I said “Yes of course, always” – but apparently, not everyone thinks like that.

I’ve seen the discussion before: Especially in the field of translating and article writing.

People will come on and complain that client X didn’t pay his invoice and needs to be chased up.

It’s a pity that not everyone can be a copywriter, because us guys, we know how stuff is meant to go down.

So let me lay down the law for you:

If you are a freelancer or a service-based business of any kind – and yes, also if you’re an artist working on commissions or shipping your work – then you get paid in advance. Period.

At the very least, 50%

And if you want to peace of mind and stellar clients, you ask for 100%

And you don’t lift a finger until the check clears.

Here’s why:

1: Customer of change: In certain types of counselling and therapy (typically, the ones that work), the individual is made to commit to actions and execute them.

This way they buy-in to the process.

It’s a massively powerful psychological mechanism that causes a person to actually take the therapy seriously and to commit to benefiting from the process.

This is no airy-fairy stuff either: As Cialdini wrote in his excellent book Influence, the act of involving a person in an exchange means they’ll be more committed.

For example, it’s why Hare Krishnas first persuade you to accept a flower from them, because when you buy into that exchange, you’ll be that more likely to listen to their pitch.

Not that I’m happy that they discovered that particular trick, but hey.

2: As soon as you start working, you’re investing time.

But it’s the customer who hires you as an investment in their business.

So how does it make sense for your to invest your time in them? Answer: it doesn’t.

Besides, if something goes wrong and you don’t have at least 50% in hand, then who loses?

That’s right: You, the freelancer. And you can’t afford to run that risk, it’s just not healthy financial policy.

3: Speaking of things going wrong: a customer has many moving parts, and at any time something can break.

Taxes hitting them, they could be taken down with an illness, maybe their spouse suddenly files for divorce – any one of hundreds of reasons can mean that you don’t see the cash you worked for.

Even if they are nice people, and trustworthy – you can’t control what happens on the other side.

But what you can control however, are your own terms and conditions.

Like I’m fond of saying; Your shop, your rules.

If a client doesn’t agree with them, it’s his prerogative to veto and to look elsewhere.

On which note: If a customer does challenge your terms, then they *should* look elsewhere.

The worst thing you could have is a customer who treats you like an employee.

You’re not an employee: you’re an independent agent, a free spirit carving out your own niche.

And no matter how nice the person, or how promising the opportunity, things should happen by your rules.

That’s one of the benefits of being an entrepreneur, that you can set the terms and conditions.

Because if you don’t look after your own company, and you get in trouble because some jerk doesn’t pay, or some poor sod goes bankrupt…

…then you’re the one suffering the stress and hardship, which in turn means you’re less able to properly serve your other clients.

And that way, everything ends up in a vicious circle.

So that’s the why, Marca.

When I worked as a copywriter, I never worked without at least 50%

In most cases it was 100% down, or no way Jose.

And it rarely cost me any sales.

In fact, I got more sales because of it, and customers respected me more because, because it showed them that I respect myself.

I mean, how is anyone going to respect you if you don’t respect yourself first?

Now, it might be scary, and you might not know how to pull it off.

How, in fact, do you get to a situation where people are happy to pay you 50% or even 100% in advance?

It’s not that hard, to be honest.

So if you want to know, then I’ll show you how in the next issue of the LEAP Newsletter, the freelancer finance special.

Get it here –>



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