So, you finally did it. You have found a client who actually wants to give you money to produce something for him, say, art. Unfortunetely, getting the work done is not all there is to it. You sure as heck don’t want to screw up so what do you do next?
- Set a reasonable schedule that you know you will be able to meet and that satisfies both you and the client with miles stones and delays for the client to approve each step, specify that the milestones might be pushed back if the client take more time than planned to give approval between each step.
- Negociate the rights to be transfered and a rate and kill fee (if the project is long enough.)
- Decide on other details like the format of the deliverables, payment schedules, exclusivity deals… If your client asks for stuff you don’t understand, ask for clarifications now, not later. Do not forget to ask if there will be a delay before you can show off the work in your portfolio!
- Get everything down in writting. It doesn’t matter if you call it a contract, a work order or terms of services, as long as everything is there. Have the client sign it.
- Get to work.
- Keep your client updated, you don’t have to wait for milestones to drop him a line and tell him how things are doing.
- Wait for the client’s approval on a milstone before going forward, if they are slow to answer, prod them gently by reminding them that your next milestone is dependant on their prompt answer.
- If you run into problems or are starting to run late, tell them, don’t wait on the day of the deadline to break out the news.
- Give your client feedback on their side of the project, but be careful to word it diplomatically. Maybe in the:”I really like A, I wish B was more like A, because now they aren’t really on the same level” type.
- Deliver on time!
- Follow up to see if the assets you delivered were right for the job, ask for feedback. If the project is big enough, ask your client if they have time for a post mortem (1).
- Wait until your delay is expired and show off the work in your portfolio.
(1)A post mortem is the latin word for an autopsy, it is also used to after-the-fact analysis or discussion. It’s a meeting where members of a team discuss a project to see what when right, what went wrong, and what choose be changed next time. They are quite valuable for projects that are intensive and run a definate time.