Freelancing can feel liberating, but it can carry some financial risks. A Rutgers University study found that freelancers in New York were unable to collect an average of $4,600 last year. Here’s some advice to help ensure you never get stiffed:
See what previous contractors say about a company before agreeing to any terms. Check out the freelancer forum at FreelanceSwitch.com and search a company’s name at Google.com/blogs. The Freelancers Union also has a new “Client Scorecard.”
Request a down payment
For big projects, request a reasonable down payment — perhaps 15% or 20% of the project’s total fee — that will be applied toward the final payment. Think of this as a security deposit.
Have a contract
“Deadbeat companies are pros at offering verbal contracts with no paper trail,” said Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union. The organization offers a free tool called Contract Creator that helps you create and customize your own contract to ensure a client pays on time.