Having a client not pay is something that many freelancers, unfortunately, know all too well.

Ideally you want to avoid the situation altogether, but that’s a lot easier said then done.

However, there are some measures that you can take that will help ensure you get paid.

Creative Live has 6 great tips that will help you avoid getting stiffed and tip number 2 is something that you should be doing with every single project.

2) Have a contract in place. You should NEVER start work without a signed contract and make sure your contract works for YOU. The best thing to do is hire a lawyer to help you create a client service agreement that is specific to you and the sort of work you are doing.  Cutting and pasting from the web is not the best idea but if hiring a lawyer is out of your budget, It is important that you include these things:

– Define a Point person – Make sure you get a primary point of contact in writing. Who is responsible for decisions? Who will answer questions and resolve issues?

– No Guarantee Clause — While we work hard as creatives, we can’t guarantee that clients will like our work because taste is subjective, but we should still be paid for the work we do.

– Intellectual Property Rights — Be clear about who will own the copyright of you work. Are you reserving it or are you transferring it to the client? Watch Rachel Rodgers CreativeLive course to understand the difference.

– Timelines, client expectations and kill fees. Include timelines in your contract about your deliverables, client expectations and due dates. Include a kill fee clause in case the client cancels or doesn’t follow through on their responsibility.  Depending on a project’s budget, I usually include a $5,000 kill fee.

– Mediation. Include a mediation and arbitration clause in contract as a first step to solving issues that arrive. Rachel Rodgers says it’s important to indicate which mediation and arbitration organization you will use in the contract as each one has different rules. I use California Lawyers for the Arts.”

See the full article at Creative Live.