The content management system at Core77 gobbled up a big chunk of text in my latest column, and I failed to notice it until last night. The missing chunk has been restored, and you can read the complete column here.
Or you can simply read the missing chunk right here. It’s pretty darn important. The text was a bulleted list that followed this paragraph:
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When I enter into a freelance agreement with a supplier, I begin the conversation by saying: I’ve had some rough relationships with suppliers in the past, and I’d like to make sure I understand how your organization works so that I can give you exactly what you need. Then I work through this list:
- Is this “work for hire” or will I be working on a contract basis? If it’s “work for hire” then everything I produce belongs to the supplier in the end. With contract work, everything is negotiable, including who “owns” the final result. I do both kinds of work, but I charge more for work for hire.
- Will I receive a purchase order or written assignment? A purchase order or assignment tells me the scope of what I’m being asked to do. Sometimes it can be as casual as an email with a list of tasks. Sometimes it can be open-ended (“Write me a monthly blog about cat treats”). Other times it can have specs that have to be followed. I always prefer some sort of assignment or purchase order so that I can deliver what the supplier wants. But I’ll work without one if I trust the supplier.
- Do you require an invoice to issue payment? What tax information does your organization require? You would think the answers to these questions would be obvious, but every organization is different. Some require almost no information to pay you. Others want a tissue sample from your rear end. Early in my career, there were many instances I didn’t get paid because I hadn’t jumped through some hoop. “We haven’t processed your invoice because you haven’t sent us a W-9.” Or “We were waiting on your tax ID number to complete setting up your account.”
- How long does it take you to issue payment after the job is complete? Do not be afraid to ask this question. If someone tells me they pay in 90 days, I’m going to rethink whether I want this job. If they pay within seven days, I might be willing to work for a lower price. In either case, the answer to this question is critical because it tells you exactly when you should start complaining.
- Finally, I ask who I should talk to in the organization with accounting and billing questions. The person who is assigning you work might not deal with the bills. So if you complain to that person, you might be making work for them to act as an intermediary between you and the accounting department. Find out who the billing contact is so you can establish a relationship with that person, too.