Working with Independent Creative Professionals
Entrepreneurs almost always start out alone. It takes time to flesh out your vision, and then implement it, before you get to the step where it’s time to onboard some help. Odds are, the time will come where you’ll have need of a creative professional or two - such as a graphic designer, photographer, videographer - in order to grow your business. If you’ve been going it alone and you don’t already have a background working in creative fields, then beginning, sustaining, and closing a creative project can seem like a very daunting process.
Don’t sweat it! As long as you’re doing due diligence to make sure that the freelance creative you engage with has a proven track record of trustworthiness backed by sufficient time in their industry, you’ll be more than fine. Nevertheless, here’s a handy guide to prime you for the concept-to-delivery process so that the freelancer you onboard with have confidence in you as a client.
Consultation - most seasoned creatives will want to discuss your project with you before committing and signing on the dotted line. They’ll want to know how much of a budget they have to work with OUTSIDE of their fee for working. They’ll want to know if they will be working as part of a team/crew or not. And most importantly, what is the desired timeline? If you don’t already know the answers to most of those questions, that’s okay; because you’re working with a seasoned professional, they’ll be able to help fill in those blanks.
Contract - believe it or not, most creative professionals prefer working out a contract with you. It spells out expectations and duties in black and white so that there is no confusion about who is responsible for what, and at what time, and for how much. This is an opportunity to be crystal clear on the “rules of engagement”: who will hold rights to the final intellectual property, how much you’ll have to pay for edits, who to email for accounting, and so forth. Be wary of someone calling themselves a professional who gets iffy about signing their name - it’s a sign that they have no intention of holding themselves to a high standard of integrity.
Payment - freelancers often live a precarious existence, and cashflow is a constant concern because there is no guaranteed bi-weekly paycheck. Therefore, we love clients who we can sign up on a retainer agreement. If you are only engaging on a one-time project, then expect to pay at least a 30% deposit upon signing of a contract, with the balance to be paid off in installments. In most circumstances, final images, videos, graphics, web designs, etc, are not released to you until the project balance has been paid off in full.
It really is that simple! Keeping all of the above in mind and putting it into practice will keep you off the official Clients From Hell list, I promise you. Unless you’re paying a very high monthly retainer fee, you will never be a creative professional’s only client. But if you make an effort to understand how creatives work, and respect the process, then you’ll likely be their favorite client. And highly favored clients get the best work delivered to them.