[by Pascal Depuhl]
“Our normal payment terms are 45 days.” the producer of a large national brand tells me. (This is an actual conversation that took place not long ago.) I’m thinking, that’s nice, but I work with a deposit of 50% upfront and balance due on delivery. “If you’re really lucky it’s 30 days.” my friend the creative director tells me – she’s the one who has hired me for this job. Most freelancers I know would just accept the fact that they’re probably not going to see any money for 2 months at this point and agree to the terms.
But I figure: Can’t hurt to ask, right? There must be a way around this. “The VP of finance would have to sign off on anything else.” Yeah – like that’s ever gonna happen. But hey it’s worth the question. So I ask. “Would you mind asking them for the signature?” 2 days later I am one of the few vendors whose terms of payment are due on receipt – just a tad better than the 45 days, wouldn’t you think? After we got the payment terms nailed down, I did the same with my terms and conditions. I took ASMP’s T&C (which I use with every job), removed any language that contradicted theirs and had their legal department sign off on the rest.
The take away? Ask. It doesn’t hurt. Just because everybody says one thing, doesn’t mean that you can’t be the exception. In my case, even when dealing with a multi-billion dollar company.
As for getting paid by any client, remember that you hold a very powerful chip in your hand: your images and/or videos. With today’s technology, it’s easy to have companies and their art departments see your work via low res image galleries or watch videos (I use Photoshelter to deliver my images and Vimeo to deliver my video). Remember your client can use low res images work for FPO (for placement only) in their ads, catalog, websites etc. as they are building them, so you’re not holding up work and video edits can be approved online, without needing to download the files. I will very rarely enable the download link, before I’ve been paid in full.
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