Ahh, the end of a project. You’re super happy because you’ve produced a piece of work that is functional and beautiful.
At this time, many designers sit down and fire away an email with the files to their clients right away. Or maybe they send an email setting up a meeting.
Creatives tend to do these things. They simply get excited. They get so excited about their designs that they want their client to see their beautiful work NOW!
But this is seldom a good thing. Once finished you should take a breather (whether your bank account tells you not to). Never just send things out before you’ve protected yourself and the work you’ve done.
You might even have a contract in place, where you got a down payment and maybe even payments when specific milestones were met.
If that’s the case, getting that last payment shouldn’t be a problem right? Well, maybe, maybe not. So why risk that last payment?
The last payment is, after all, often the meatiest one. Being paranoid is, in this case, a good thing.
Even though your client has showed no signs at all of not being able to pay the last instalment, they just might surprise you this time…
It’s all psychology really. Once they product is in their hands, they simply won’t be that motivated to pay you. It’s the same for all of us, like in this Seinfeld sketch:
Your client got nothing to lose right?
The absolute best way to avoid this to happen is to tell your client that, the work is done and that you will release the files once they’ve paid the final instalment.
Simple as that. But it never really is that simple, is it?… I’d bet that most clients just won’t pay you before they’ve seen the final product themselves.
Why? Because they want to feel protected too! They want to make sure that they can ask you for some changes. They want to really approve these final files.
Now we have a dilemma. So how do you ensure that all involved parts feel protected?
You make sure you have a contract in place that clearly outlines that the files will be released after you have received the final payment. Write that contract.
If your client is unwilling to a contract like this, you should probably first think about if you can find a client that trusts you more.
But if that’s not an option (which it often is not) do this:
Watermark your designs. Let the client see your final work but remind them at the same time that they still don’t own the work.
So, give them a clear glimpse – then simply ask them for the payment. Btw, you could do this even though you’ve created the design in HTML/CSS. Just screenshot it and add watermarks.
“But I need to show something for my boss”
Another very common situation is when a client “needs something to show his boss”. A classic.
Usually goes something like this;
At the end of a project, your client calls you and tells you that he needs a finished design ASAP. He needs it to show to his boss or his client. He asks you to, please, have the files ready in a couple of days.
Now, this is tricky because you want to make your client happy. But, you still haven’t received the last payment. Most often because he’s not supposed to pay you just yet, or the last payment is running late.
At this point, excuses usually run wild. “Payment is coming, it takes three days for the bank transfer” “I’ll pay you when the meetings done”, or the classic “our economy guy is away this week”.
A very difficult situation indeed. The project has gone greatly up until now and you don’t want to ruin things now. You should probably just send the poor guy the final files.
If your client needs your work early, they need to understand that they will have to pay. You don’t have to be rude about, just act professionally and tell them you simply can’t release the final product until all payments are up to date.