How To make a contract and deal properly with clients
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Thread: How To make a contract and deal properly with clients

  1. #1
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    How To make a contract and deal properly with clients

    This thread is to discuss the topic of contract negotiation and creation.

    Many young artists are abused and taken advantage of by companies simply because they lack the practical experience to properly represent themselves when dealing with HR people of big companies, agents, and the like.

    In the interest of defending the rights and well-being of our fellow artists I'm opening this thread so that any and all who have experience with such things as negotiating a contract, changing clauses and dealing with companies who have given you a raw deal can share their wisdom and experiences.

    Many thanks, and hope to hear from many people!

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    It's a shame such an idea hasn't gotten any feedback. I have never really dealt with any major clients and this is something I would be interested in hearing about. Someone out there must have something to share.

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    Main things to focus on:

    - You!
    What do you want, need, expect. Put this on paper. Not when you are dealing with a company. NOW! This is your starting point.
    Know not only what you want, but also why you want it.

    - Customer
    What do they want and more important ... why do they want this from you.

    When negotiating focus on making sure you understand your customers motivation. Give feedback so they know you understand them, but also explain how their relation with you will benefit you. Make sure they understand your motivations.
    Very important: learn to say no. Only accept work that will benefit both you and your customer. If there is no benefit for both: reject!

    In the end this is what a contract is about: I expect X from you and will deliver Y in return. With a lot of legal stuff around it.
    This legal stuff is important, learn and understand the basics. This differs from country to country, however the basics can be learned from everyone dealing with contract experience.
    If you want the best advice try finding someone who's job is to buy stuff for a company. Or someone in HR.

    Now if you have a contract with a company and they want to change (and you are not happy with the change) go back to the earlier situation. Understand why they want to change and give feedback to them to make sure you understand it. Then explain how your 'benefit' is influenced by the change.
    Again make sure they understand your point of view.
    Also in this situation: both you and your customer must have some benefit from the change, else reject and make sure your customer understands why you reject.

    When done this way it won't happen many times that a company gives you a bad deal. Sure, they won't always be happy with you. And you not always with them. But that's life.

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    Do all of this before you agree to do the job. Get all of this in writing and don't start the job until you do. Reputable companies will always have you sign a contract and NDA before you start work. Beware of companies who don't think it matters.

    Most freelance work now is work for hire. This means you will give up rights to your work unless you specifically ask to keep some rights. Always ask for the right to show the work in a portfolio and website.

    You needed to set prices for your time or the job as a whole and how many rounds of changes you are willing to make before you get paid again for your time. Contract should state deliverables and payment schedules. Don't wait to get paid at the end of a job break up the payments into bi-weekly or monthly increments on big jobs lasting many weeks or months.

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    When dealing with a smaller freelance client. make sure you receive half of the payment up-front, before you begin even sketching thumbnails - even if you are excited about the job. Do not put one iota of your consciousness into a job until you are payed. Even if you know them, even if you are excited about the project. Smaller companies have limited budgets and even good people will try to get a break from paying dues on time - if you suggest that you are not strict about receiving payment, you will generally pick up their slack at best

    Do not send them the full resolution final until the other half is received.

    Always be positive and avoid negative wording such as "unfortunately..." or "just in case".. tone is amplified through email, and will affect your overall relationship with a client.

    If the project sounds fun/exciting, don't let the client know that, at least not until after the contract is fully negotiated. They will often offer the lowest payment they think they can get away with - and letting on that you'll enjoy the work gives them leverage.

    Don't respond in a rush with an agreement - take at least a day to consider what the project is really worth to you.

    Don't agree on a price until you know exactly what you'll be doing for them. For instance, don't agree on x amount for a logo design, until you know exactly what the logo is to be - color? Size? detail? amount of refinement? etc...

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