The one piece of advice I would give to any freelancer working with a new client is: Get everything in writing.

A couple of years ago, I was in a position with a client where they changed their mind about a payment and my work. Unfortunately  as I  had only spoken to them over the phone, I had little evidence to back myself up. My invoice went unpaid.

Freelancers are naturally in a more vulnerable position, and not having everything in writing can make this worse. I’ve heard more than enough stories from other freelancers who have worked hard on a project, only for the client to turn around and refuse to pay (or ask for several more free changes).

Here’s how to make sure you get everything in writing:

  • Create a Terms and Conditions document you can send to new clients, with your expectations regarding working hours, changes and workload. Ask them to acknowledge it (a reply should suffice).
  • If the client demands that all conversations take place over the phone, make sure you follow up every call with an email summarising what has been discussed, and ask them to acknowledge it. Not only will this give you a written record, but it’ll also make sure you’re both on the same page. However, if they demand all phone calls take place over the phone, warning bells should ring.
  • Have they issued with a contract? Read it, get someone to check it over if you’re not legal-minded, and don’t be afraid to raise any issues if you have any. Some freelancers also issue their own contracts (although the Terms and Conditions doc should cover most of this).
  • If the client wants to make any changes, ask them to email them to you (or acknowledge your own email confirming this)
  • Use Skype. Skype text chats are a great way to have a discussion with a client, and you can save the contents afterwards for your records.

Do you get everything in writing?