August 29, 2009

Steering Clear of Deadbeat Clients

In the current economy, translators, and freelancers in general, are frequently happy to get work from new clients and tend to over look initial paperwork. In some cases they’re afraid of “scaring” the client away, in others they simply don’t realize why it’s necessary. Keep in mind when a client contacts you for a new project taking certain steps before starting the project is a protective measure that ensures you’ll get paid.

Remember, no one is doing you a favor; this is a service you are providing to a client. There’s no reason to be timid about asserting yourself or setting payment terms. Requesting a purchase order or contract will not scare away a legitimate business client. On the contrary, they will see that you're a professional and gain confidence accordingly.

Before agreeing to a project with a new client, you should do a background check. There are lists available of companies that have a bad payment record, some are specifically for translators, and others aren’t. Some of these lists require some sort of payment, either membership to a translation site, or a yearly fee to see and add to the list. The fee is well worth it. You don't want to find out that your new client is unreliable after they owe you hundreds or thousands of dollars.




Company payment practice lists:

http://www.bbb.org/us/Business-Search/
http://translatorscafe.com/ (Hall of Fame and Shame)
http://proz.com (BlueBoard)
http://www.tcrlist.com/
http://www.paymentpractices.net
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/WPPF/ (yahoo group)
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/translationagencypayment/ (yahoo group)

Freelancers that aren't in the translation business can use this list as well. Chances are if these companies don't pay their translators they aren't going to pay their writers, editors, graphic artists, etc.

Once you’ve checked one or more of the lists above and haven’t seen your new client there, it’s time to formalize payment terms. This is something that needs to be done before starting the project. How do you set up payment terms, contracts, PO (purchase orders) and other payment options? In the next post we’ll discuss how to do that. How do you protect yourself to avoid non-paying clients? Share it in the comments section.

1 comment:

  1. I like to look up the propsective company on the web or BBB too.

    ReplyDelete