Freelance designers / Creative start ups - need some advice!



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Registration : 13 March 2014
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Sorry in advance for the length of this but hoping I can get some thoughts from fellow designers / freelancers!

My seven year freelance graphic design business is now growing organically into an agency and I’m starting to see a real need to implement processes with regard to billing, delivery, management, etc... but there have been a couple of “grey” areas I’m not sure about and would love any advice anyone could offer….

Curious to hear if any of you have experienced the issues below or can recommend any resources that might shed light on similar topics….

Time management (lost time)

Are there any standard terms used by designers / creative agencies to protect against lost time if a project starts later than the agreed commencement date?

For example, my client and I agreed on a project and I was given a start date, which I scheduled in, but the project did not commence for 3 weeks and as a result we lost out on other work we’d turned down for those dates. Usually I take a 50% deposit which serves as away to commence the work but it does not necessarily “reserve” my time if there becomes a gap of many weeks between when we sign / agree on a date and when we commence.

Would it be reasonable to include a clause in the contract which states we will add a penalty fee - (say 15% of the total project cost) if does not start on the agreed date?

Client management (feedback)

I sometimes work with other small agencies in providing design solutions to their end client, so essentially I am contracted by the agency and they liaise w/the client directly and collect their feedback.

Often during this process, I find that the person at the agency is not filtering the feedback. What that has resulted in is things like the client asking for new requests which are out of scope or forgetting they fed back on something or just being all together unclear so that I end up spending more time on a wild goose chase trying to decode the feedback than I’m spending one design.

Should it not be expected that it’s the responsibility of the person at the agency to edit / make sure the feedback is clear (effectively, be the project manager) so I can focus on the design / amendments?

Payment terms

I try to operate on a standard 50% up front, 50% upon completion and ideally before delivery of the work

With one of my regular clients I’m a bit more relaxed but I just sent them an invoice for work I did and delivered in full without asking for any payment up front or on completion.

I asked if the payment could be made now and they obliged but stated that for future they operate on a 15-30 day payment terms.

So the question is - who’s terms trump who’s in these cases? It’s a conflict against the “payment on delivery” term.

Would be great to hear how other people deal with payment.


Thanks so much to anyone who takes the time to read or reply!

Be happy to hear of any links or online resources that might help answer these questions too as this is the first place I've come to!

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