Hayley Jenkins, a social media expert with 3 years in the industry, specialises in social media campaigns for recruitment agencies. Her agency, The Social Geeks, works with medium-sized businesses across the UK, to expand their reach and build brand awareness.
After completing four weeks’ worth of work for a business, the client ignored all form of contact and failed to pay my invoice on time, despite using the content I had created.
Having left a full-time position in my previous job to become self-employed, I was put in touch with a startup recruitment agency. This was my first client as a freelancer, so I was careful to draw up professional contracts, including terms such as late payment fees.
After agreeing to a package of web design, social media set up, branding and content creation for very reasonable rates, I got underway with the work. Once it was complete, I sent over my invoice, only to find the client ignored my emails and calls, and took far longer to settle the payment than my contract terms stated.
Needless to say, I didn’t work with the client after this, but it was an important learning curve. To ensure this didn’t happen again, I decided to charge 100% upfront going forward.
When working with new clients, I now send an invoice on the project start date, with 14-day payment terms. This may sound extreme to some, but I have never had any problems since, and clients respect the hard work and value they get in return.
The experience was something of a baptism of fire into freelancing, but it taught me the importance of choosing your clients wisely. Winning business can be exciting, however it’s vital to tread carefully when dealing with new clients.
I have realised that asserting your authority in a business relationship, by asking for payment upfront, can actually gain the respect of your clients and make them take you seriously, especially as a freelancer dealing with larger businesses.