Freelancer tip: Avoid clients who pay… later.

Payment can be a tough subject for many of us who are freelancers.  Yet, it’s important!  After all, why are we working?  Sure, we truly enjoy our craft, whether it be writing, visual art, graphic design, crafts, or whatever the case may be.  But we don’t do it purely for love.  We do it because we need something to pay the bills and put food on the table.

That’s why today’s post is dedicated to that most uplifting of prose, “pay to the order of.”  We’ll talk about pay, getting paid, and things to do to make sure you get paid!  If anyone has questions, feel free to ask and I’ll probably add it on as another question.

Tips for Freelancers:

Set clear expectations.

Have a place on your website that explains when you expect to be paid, how much, and when.  Then you will have a leg to stand on when someone starts to argue.  For an example, check out my commissions page:  http://rohvannynshaw.com/commissions/

Have a contract.

This helps both client and creator understand the terms of the deal, and protects both if something goes wrong.  When is pay expected?  When is the work supposed to be complete?  What is the scope of the work, and how many rounds of editing are allowed before the client needs to pay more?  This prevents clients from adding extra things or deciding to pay… later.  Keep all copies and send the contract in a PDF if you have to email it, that way nothing can be changed.

Price fairly.

This means not pricing too high, but it also means not pricing too low.  Do research in your field, and see what other people doing similar work get paid.  If you price too high, you may not get customers.  If you price too low, you devalue other people’s work and you also may drive customers off.  After all, no one likes to buy at a fire sale.

Keep all records.

I said it above, but it bears repeating.  Don’t just keep the contract.  Also keep all emails (preferably archived in PDF format) related to the project, all materials provided to you, and any other correspondence.  Keep it in a separate folder and if possible archive it on a thumb drive, just so you have it ready to hand in case you need it.  This way, if someone takes legal action against you, or you need to do the same, you’ll have everything and won’t have to go hunting around.

Don’t discount.

Family and friends are famous for asking for “buddy discounts.”  The trouble with this is, they often start offering that same discount to their own friends.  Pretty soon every available client seems to think they should get the family rate.  I didn’t think this would happened to me and it did – so it can happen to anyone.  It can happen to you.  So price fairly and then if they give you static, calmly explain that this is the going rate for professional work.

Don’t “do it for the clicks.”

Doing work for exposure only goes so far.  I write for free on this blog and I feature artists and authors for free.  However, I never do art, editing, or manuscripts for free.  You can’t eat clicks, you can’t pay bills with exposure.  Not only that, but every time someone does something for free it drives down the value of what other freelancers do!

Fire clients if you have to.

It can be scary to fire a client.  You may think “I’ll never find another,” or “how am I supposed to work if I fire my clients?”  So I’m not saying to fire every client, or to do it quickly and easily.  However, some people are just not worth your valuable time or stress level.  If you have a client who keeps trying to get you to lower your rates after you’ve agreed on a price, or if they treat you badly, or if they make it impossible to do a good job, fire them.  Do it simply, do it calmly, and you don’t have to explain why.

Set limits on how much you will do for a certain fee.

If you write, put a clause in your contract saying “includes three rounds of editing.”  You can do something similar for art.  If you build websites, find out up front  how many pages you’ll be designing.  Think similarly for any other project.  Otherwise, you may have a client who creates a seemingly endless project for one low starter fee.

Don’t undersell the competition by too great a margin.

If everyone is designing book covers for $200-$500, don’t say “hey, I’ll do just as good a job for ten bucks!”  You’ll see this all over DeviantArt.  People will do amazing work for five or ten dollars, or even for free.  Now, the artists are just thinking about having fun and not considering the effects of what they are doing.  However, you have a choice.  For every freelancer who offers services at rock bottom prices, other freelancers can’t put food on the table because people are using the ultra-cheap options offered by the irresponsible freelancers.  Sites like Fiverr.com, by offering extremely low prices, are ultimately harming the industry.  Don’t be part of that trend.  Remind your clients and potential clients that they get what they pay for, and can rely on  you to provide professional, responsible service at a fair price.

Be responsive to questions.

When someone asks a question about you or your business, be friendly, informative, and respond quickly.  This is especially true if they contact you via your contact link on your website.  One of the great things about hiring a freelancer is being able to communicate openly with them, so help people see that advantage by being there.

Be punctual and professional.

Similarly, if there is a time expectation set, meet or exceed that expectation.  Use good business style in all your communications.  Be unfailingly polite and cheerful.  Explain things clearly and answer all questions.  If there is a misunderstanding, be as clear as you can and try to help your client understand.  Sometimes misunderstandings can be as simple as a different use of language, and easily solved with a few questions.

Being a freelancer can be a lot of fun and a very rewarding career.  Following these tips will help it be even better!

via Daily Prompt: Later\

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/later/

Very thought provoking article

Before you start to worry that Bella has somehow gotten lost and found her way under my house, don’t worry. She’s fine, apart from some minor digestive complaints she’s had lately. The dog to which the title of this article refers is another one entirely, one I only discovered recently due to unusual circumstances and […]

via So There’s a Dog in My Floorboards — Mark All My Words

More Treats for my Readers!

Tonight, I give you one of the creepiest ways to enjoy a story – by sound.  I found a page with some wonderful, creepy old radio dramas.  Listen to them with the lights out – if you dare.

https://nitratediva.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/31-scary-old-time-radio-episodes-halloween/

https://nitratediva.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/fear-you-can-hear-more-scary-radio/

 

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Improve your drawings – with one simple trick!

Happy Inktober Day number 26!  I missed yesterday so today’s a tip, too.
If you are drawing anything with hard edges, your work will look so much better if you use sharp, clean lines and good perspective. So, how can an enterprising artist keep their fluid, natural lines and combine them with correct mechanical structures without the whole thing looking stiff?

I find that what works best is to rough out my drawing in pencil, so that things still look natural, and then use a clear plastic ruler to redraw anything that needs to be exact. Simple!

That way the woman at the table can still have her beautiful, flowing hair and her frilly dress, but the stripes on her tablecloth will be even and the legs straight. Or the wild horses can still look dynamic and three dimensional, while the old fence posts they are standing near still stand straight and tall with good parallel lines. Think of how the impact might be different if those posts were drawn with wavering unrealistic lines. A great opportunity for contrast would be completely lost.
Paying some attention to how things are really shaped, even in your sketches, will give your work a more grounded, realistic look and bring a hint of professionalism. To me, nothing is sadder than seeing an artist draw a really beautiful figure, animal, or natural landscape – then completely ignore the structure of the piece, so the setting looks skewed and lopsided because none of lines are straight, even when they are supposed to be. It’s a fast way to ruin an otherwise beautiful work.
Best of all, this problem is not only easy to fix, but helps train your eye to be a better artist!

Day 0: Blogging Tools to Help You Work Faster, Write Better, and Land More Readers — BayArt

Blogging is an art, and using the right blogging tools will make your art rise and shine! This is an epic list of blogging tools to which you can refer, and find new tools to enhance your blogging experience as well as the experience of your readers! This epic list of blogging tools consists of…

via Day 0: Blogging Tools to Help You Work Faster, Write Better, and Land More Readers — BayArt

From Subdued to Superb

via Daily Prompt: Subdued

 

I love taking pictures of the moon, and I finally have a camera that will do it, however the photos are often grainy.  What’s an amateur lunar photographer to do, especially on an evening when there’s obstructions in the way, but that moon coming up over the city is so beautiful?

Photoshop?

Not for me – I use GIMP, the free art program.

Through judicious use of the clonestamp, fuzzy select, gaussian blur, and layers features this subdued image was totally rehabbed.  Clone stamping near parts of the sky got rid of the power line, selecting just the moon itself then putting it on another layer so we could blur the rest got rid of all those speckles, and a simple “white balance”operation cleared up much of the atmospheric haze on the moon itself.

Here’s a better view.

original shopped moon 1000.JPG

shopped - I can't see the pixels 1000.JPG

 

DIY Camera Monopod

I wanted to take a picture of the moon last night the same as I did two nights ago, but it wasn’t in the right position to use my usual trick of bracing my camera on the back fence.  Still, the sheer beauty of the moon as it peeked through the treetops made me find a way, and it worked well enough that I wanted to share it here.

I sat in a chair so that part of me was braced, and for a monopod I used a sponge mop!  It was dry, so no harm done to the camera.  However it worked well enough that I was able to get several shots of the moon.  At maximum zoom, it’s of course rather hard to hold still, and this little help was invaluable.   The spongy texture was stiff enough to support my hands and the camera, and soft enough not to scratch the finish, and the pole handle made a sturdy base that I could angle as I liked.

The featured image shows my result.  Still not perfect, but my camera isn’t a fancy expensive one and I was doing without a tripod or telescope.  I’m happy with it!

Introduction to Sumi Painting

Japanese ink painting is an ancient, yet truly enjoyable art form that creates a striking, often monochromatic style. Some consider it a Chinese art, however these paintings are very highly esteemed in both countries.

It trains you to paint bravely, being careful and fluid at the same time. It shows you how to go with the flow and not look back.

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Sumi ink stone

Some people use colors in their sumi paintings, even gold paint, but I currently don’t. At it’s essential core, this kind of painting is about deep black ink, a natural-bristle bamboo handled brush, and some nice paper.

One of the really cool things about sumi painting is that although you can buy liquid ink in a bottle, you can also grind your own. Ink sticks are generally made with pine soot and natural glue. You rub them against the ink stone, with a little water, to make your ink. There’s something very grounding about watching the ink form in your stone.

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Sumi Brushes

Ink stones aren’t too expensive, neither are brushes, and you only need one or two to start. Paper can be pricy but there are cheap options, so this is an easy thing to try. If you decide to stick with it, you can get better materials.

When you are getting started with sumi, it helps to try making different strokes – the direction your brush moves in, combined with the pressure you use, determines what your mark will be. Sometimes you need to plan ahead with your marks, because you have no way of erasing, but if you hesitate you will put down too much paint. It’s good to practice by trying to copy a simple painting, to see how to make the lines and marks.

Sumi ink can also be thinned out to make washes, like watercolor. If you use the proper kind of paper, Japanese Washi, it will preserve all the fine details you have made and the ink won’t spread too much, nor sit on the surface.

There are, of course, online tutorials, videos, and books to teach you this art, or you can play around and see what you can make on your own. Sumi can even be a form of moving meditation. A common exercise is to breathe deeply and see how perfect a circle you can draw with a single stroke.

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I’ve barely scratched the surface here but I hope you can see what endless vistas can be explored.  If you’d like to try too, click on the images to see where to get the supplies.

 

(featured picture by Pixabay, art materials from DickBlick.com)

The Magic of Detail

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A small detail from one of my paintings

 

Whether we’re talking about a story, an article, a painting, or a drawing, the devil really is in the details. Get them wrong and you have a flop. Get them right and you’ve made something great.

Research is really important to make sure you get those details right. Just how should the knight’s sword gleam? What does a rose smell like, exactly? How does a Great Dane generally behave? What are some of the normal brands of potato chip bought in the East Coast?

Details, and how you portray them, are everything. If you’re writing about an object, the reader should know what it looks like. They need to know the color, make an model of the car the protagonist sees. The scent of the forest as the heroin walks into it. How the fur of the wolf feels as the hero tentatively strokes its ruff.

In a picture, little details can really make it come alive. Say you paint a mountain scene. It’s pretty, but what’s going on? Add a bird, and there’s life. Add a boat and a mysterious head in the high mountain caldera-lake, and you have a story. What creatures populate your woods? Who walks through your cities? What do they wear? How do they live? In a portrait, what favorite piece of jewelry, what sly look of the eye, will the viewer see?

Remember to include these things and watch your viewers, or readers, love you.