Caitlin McEvoy is a graphic designer with 6 years’ experience and an 02 Media Award. A finalist in the IPSE Freelancer Awards 2015, she works alongside colleges, publishing companies, theatres and musicians to design booklets, posters, magazines, artwork and more.
I agreed to work at a fixed cost far below my usual rate, to get a foot in the door with a publishing company in Scotland. Once the work was completed, I was paid only a fraction of the agreed price, on the basis that ‘it wasn’t working out.’
Having been interviewed for a Scotland-based publisher, I was tasked with designing a new magazine for a disabled audience. The price was fixed at £1300, plus a £250 set up fee and additional costs for advertising.
I was given no real brief and very little direction, which inevitably meant that the client was unhappy with the work. They didn’t like the font and imagery, but couldn’t tell me what they did want when they requested corrections.
On the week of the final deadline, they called me to say it wasn’t working out, and that they would pay £500 to cover the costs provided I sent the files. Soon after, I found the magazine online in exactly the same format as I submitted, with no further changes.
On sending the files over to the client, I took the opportunity to feedback on the experience. I explained that they as a client had let me down by not discussing their issues sooner and giving the direction needed when I asked for it.
I have learned that in these situations, it’s important for both parties to speak up if the relationship isn’t working. In hindsight, I would have ended the project much sooner, to save a lot of time, hassle and stress that knocked my confidence and productivity.
Secondly, it taught me that a verbal agreement on payment is not enough. In future, I plan to draw up a written contract and request a deposit, to ensure that the client is serious about using my services and will pay for the hours I work.