How to get PAID

the business Nov 04, 2023

Whether you're just staring out, or are already a pro, some of the very practical (and essential) business aspects of doing photo/video work can be awkward and ambiguous.

I mean, are you 100% confident in your client process from start to finish? I.e. from the time the client reaches out to you, all the way through negotiating budget and deliverables, signing a contract, producing a shoot, and so on and so forth, all the way to CASH in the BANK. Cash in your bank.

That's not even a rhetorical question. Smash that reply button... I'd love to hear your thoughts here.

To be honest, I'm somewhere in the 80% range of confident in my client process, and I've been doing this a while. I'm always trying to improve the client's experience, which in turn, improves my own experience and drastically lowers my business stress level.

I'm working on adding some super practical guides to the Cocktail Camera Pro course that will help you dial in your client experience and process. However, here are some helpful tips to get you moving in the right direction:

1) Vet every client lead using an intake form

I've shared about this a bit recently, so you can check out this blog post for in-depth details and helpful links.

Basically, you want to minimize the back-and-forth over emails and phone calls with client leads who might not even be worth your time anyway. Provide them with a general intake form like this one which will help answer A LOT of important questions without you having to ask every lead the same thing over and over again.

For me, I send an intake form to EVERY client lead, no exceptions. It's the start of the process, and making sure I get answers to these important questions will ensure an easier process for the potential client as well.

No joke, many client leads have thanked me after I sent them my intake form. It usually goes something like, "Wow I can tell you're organized. Thanks for making this so easy!" That's a big win in my book!

2) Require a 50% up front deposit for first-time clients

This is business– no need to be all "Mr. Nice Guy" or to be overly trusting with a new client you don't actually know all that well yet.

For first-time clients, I generally require a 50% deposit up front before ANY work is done. This is especially important if your fee includes costs like purchasing or renting props, hiring contractors, studio rentals, etc. Personally, I'd rather not front all that money to make a shoot happen... especially if I don't know the client well. I do tend assume the best of everyone, but clients are often large companies... even if I have a really good thing going with my specific contact, that doesn't mean I'll get paid on time. Get some sort of deposit up front and then invoice for the final amount after all the deliverables are complete.

For clients who I have worked with previously, or have a good relationship with, I tend to require payment at the end of a project. However this does depend on the project– again, some shoots have upfront fees like renting a studio or hiring other talent. Certain projects can move quickly, and it might just be more time-effective for me to make these purchases and submit for reimbursement later without waiting for a deposit. I will happily do this for a client I know and trust– but seriously always think twice about fronting any costs for new clients.


3) Use an automated billing platform for invoicing and collecting payments

I've shared about Bonsai a few times already as well, but I'm telling you again, this thing changed my biz from the moment I signed up. This is an affiliate link, but I've actually been using this platform for over 6 years and genuinely swear by it.

Chasing down client payments can be hard and super awkward at times. I feel like the bigger the client, the longer they take to pay and the more likely they will pay late. Bonsai takes so much of the awkwardness away with their automated system. Everything from proposals, to e-signing contracts, to invoices and automated payment reminders, Bonsai makes the whole client process so smooth and easy.

Since joining the platform, I have almost never needed to send any client a payment reminder or chase down a late payment. Bonsai just does it for me. Click here to try it for free.


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