So I was out on my bike (the dirt kind, not the pedal kind) a few minutes ago and all of a sudden, the idea for a new blog post struck me – like loosely packed, fresh gravel on a country road (thanks a bunch, whoever did that…) Anyhow, I figured it was high time to blog about something that I feel is very important to consider when accepting/negotiating jobs and counting on ensuing payment, which is not counting on anything until said payment is in your hand. Literally. Below I have highlighted a few words of wisdom that I have gleaned from years in this industry that we call fashion…
1.) Reign in job offer excitement until you are actually on set.
I don’t want to sound like a wet blanket here, and I do realize that sometimes it is hard to suppress elation over a new client or nifty sounding gig. However, it is all too common that a job has been described to me in great detail, financial compensation has been agreed upon and all the other little nitty-gritty details have been pored over and then said job never actually materializes. This is why I avoid discussing details of my work with people close to me (you know who you are and I’m sorry!) until I am physically at the location of the shoot with a camera shoved in my face.
I try to vet out clients through mutual acquaintances or do some independent research to avoid this. In addition, it is often helpful to follow-up with said clients. However, this is often one of those painfully irritating situations that one has no control over…
2.) (If working outside of an agency) prompt clients to pay on site, directly after the job…
…because I have found a direct relation between the amount of time that is allowed to elapse after the shoot increasing and your chances of actually receiving compensation decreasing. Does that make sense? I hope so. Get paid ASAP.
3.) Don’t spend money you haven’t received.
This is one of the biggest bummers of working as in independent contractor. Looking at each month, it’s nice to feel satisfied with the amount of work coming in and it can be easy to spend proportionally. However, I’ve waited literally years for certain clients to pay me (a more common scenario is 45 – 90 days in my experience, but that’s still not exactly cutting it if the mortgage is due next week). In a couple of extremely irksome instances, I have yet to get compensated at all…and if you’re guilty of that and reading this: pay me!!!
4.) Save all correspondences between you and your client
I’ve experienced the dreaded scenario where there is a small, how shall we say, conflict between myself and the customer in regards to expected compensation after the job. This has definite potential for drama but can easily be diffused if you are savvy enough to keep all records of conversation between the involved parties leading up to a shoot.
5.) Don’t take anyone’s word for gospel.
It actually bothers me to write this because I sound like a conspirator or some sh#t but do no trust anybody. Well, maybe your best friend and parents and that kind of stuff. But as earnest as somebody sounds over the interwebs or the phone, you really can’t rely on anything until after the fact.
All this being said, a little common sense goes a long way in this business and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Do your homework, ask around and be a little skeptical every now and then and everything should be copacetic.