The next post in The Freelance Life series we're talking about documents! Not only will having documents in place for each step of the process make you look more legit but it will also streamline your work. Below are the documents I recommend creating to take your freelance career to the next level. If you need extra help I'll send you samples of each of my documents if you email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sending a general pricing sheet to a potential client will quickly determine if they have the budget for you to work together. It also keeps you true to your value. We'll talk more about pricing later but a few things I recommended: Putting a date or season on your pricing sheet clues in your clients that your prices may change (ex: Spring 2014). Adding a '+' after a value let's clients know their specific project could cost more. Your pricing sheet is also a glimpse of what services you offer, by listing these it could spark other needs from your client
A process document breaks down what type of work goes into each stage, what is needed from them at that time and a timeline to follow if they want their project delivered in a timely manner. Make sure you include a research phase just so your client is aware that you are doing a lot of work on the backend that will influence your design decisions. My steps: Becoming a new client, Gathering Information, Creating an outline, Harnessing creativity, Designing multiple directions, Making Revisions, Finalizing Files.
A contract is an absolute must, if not the most important document you need to have. I don't care if you're doing work for your aunt, a contract will keep both her and you protected. My contract has changed drastically overtime and edited after dealing with not-so-great situations. Things you need to include: What services you are being hired for, additional service charges (hiring out a developer, copywriter…), payment timeline, project timeline and copyrights after the project is complete. Some things that I've needed to add in: What happens when a project goes drastically out of scope, What happens when a client wants out of your design services and What happens when YOU want/need out of the project. The un-signed contract should only be valid for 10 days to make sure that your client understands you need to know if the project is going forward and also that they can't come back 5 months later and expect the same price. A more in-depth look at contracts: AIGA, Smashing Magazine for different types of work, How, Stuff and Nonsense
To get things started in the right direction it's important that you know everything about your clients business to create design to compliment their services. This might seem like a lot for your client to answer but TRUST ME - if they can't describe their service or what they are looking for it will lead you on an endless goose chase. After the questionnaire you can move onto Pinterest boards or sharing actual inspiration
You want to get paid right? There are certain add-ons to your invoice to make sure you get paid quicker. Make sure you date your invoice and list the services that were performed. Add a date that the payment needs to be received by (I put 7 days from signed contract for the down payment and 21 days from the invoice date on everything else). Add a late payment amount - this could be a percentage of the invoice or a flat fee. I email a reminder on the 18th day, and send a new invoice on the 22nd day for an added amount of $50 each week it's late.
Add your contact information to each of your documents
Make each of these pieces cohesive to your brand.
Name your files properly (KaydRoy_Contract_ClientName.pdf)
Date each piece
Save as PDFs and keep in a safe place
Let me know if you have any other tips for Freelance documents!