Don’t work without project security


There is nothing worse than doing a load of work and not getting paid for it.

Over a year ago I was approached by a man who wanted me to market some books he had published. This project sounded too good to be true (and in fact this was the case, as you will read later).

So I redesigned his website (with the minimum of information), set up a shopping cart and autoresponder, plus a blog and other social networking accounts. I tried so hard to promote his terrible books (learning that you need to have a good product that people actually want to be able to succeed), tried to get them redesigned so that they actually looked nice both inside and out, fielding his awful adverts in expensive magazines that were so bad they were a complete waste of money (not designed by me of course), and coping with a torrent of emails and telephone calls from this persistent and annoying person.

Of course he never paid the invoices I sent him, always coming up with excuse after excuse. I stupidly carried on working for another month, amassing more money owed, until I’d had enough. I downed tools and refused to work any more until I was paid. More excuses, and no payment. Then silence…

The next thing I had was an email from his cousin saying my client had died and since his business was illegal and he had no money, it was highly unlikely I would get my invoices paid. I actually rang up the crematorium the day of his funeral to see if he really had died and had not done a runner. I also heard that all the bailiffs for his other debts had totally stripped his flat, so there was certainly nothing left for me.

The moral? There are several. Draw up a contract at the beginning carefully laying out exactly what you are supposed to do. Calculate a price for the amount of work decided upon, and get at least 50% deposit in advance. No deposit, no work: it shows good will and commitment. Form a strategy for work to be done, including when contact is to be made (don’t tolerate constant interruptions) and confirmation of drafts before the final product is published or produced. And above all, make sure the project you undertake has a possibility of success – go with your gut feeling about quality, consistency and – above all – get a credit check done first to learn the liability of this new project.

And don’t put up with this trash for 3 months, only to land up with nothing at the end. No wonder my business has gone to the dogs…

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One Response to Don’t work without project security

  1. Alice says:

    Interestingly, my husband’s firm seems to be going down this same route. A very large and extremely rich client, behaving unbusiness-like (nit-picking, etc), firm can’t invoice until they have received a project-order, months of work completed to ridiculous deadlines, amounting to millions of pounds owed… let’s hope it won’t end up in disaster.

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