As the economy has tumbled, I have definitely seen a shift in my company.
When I first started off, I could remain busy every hour of most days if I wanted. Working ‘part time’ from home was really misleading; I worked much more than part time, always busy with a variety of projects. Most projects revolved around full blown websites. Clients were hungry to tap into the economic whirlwind and they put up sites to advertise their companies.
When things began to change for the worse, my business noticed. Not only did things slow down some, but they changed as well. Instead of full blown websites with all the fancy bells and whistles, people wanted template modifications or blogs – something they could use to advertise business while keeping costs low.
Something else changed as well. Clients, even those with whom I had worked for some time, began to stall when it came to payment time.
Since I do a lot of updates on sites that I have designed or sites for other clients, I often create ongoing and lasting relationships with clients. I have quite a few clients that are invoiced monthly for work that includes maintaining their sites or writing content for their blogs.
Once I draw an initial contract for work, I don’t write repeat contracts for ongoing projects. Therefore, I have not outlined my billing process for many of these ongoing projects. Or if I have, it was done in one contract and never updated.
And I have to say, my outlining of this type of work is slim. I never considered it much, because I was always paid on time and without much effort.
I’m now having a really difficult time reaching some clients and/or obtaining payments from them.
Three recent situations with regular clients (those with whom I’ve worked with at least for six months) come to mind.
The first, after repeated attempts to obtain money, kept putting me off and then, when invoiced for the third or fourth time, said that a death in the family had tied up his money and as soon as Uncle Sam pays him what he is owed he’ll remit payment to me – and the payment is less than $200. I’m still waiting on this one.
The second, after two months of going back and forth between the client and the client’s partner about payment due, said that the check had been sent last month (partner one) and that partner two had no idea – despite the fact that I have emailed repeatedly to find out where the payment was. I’m supposed to receive a check in the mail in the next few days. I’m not holding my breath.
The third client has not responded to three emails in the past week – though when working on this project, I heard from the client within minutes each time I attempted to make contact.
To say that this is frustrating is one thing. As any business owner does, I consider the money made once the agreement and contract is written. I don’t spend it in advance, but I know where it will go once the project is done and the fee paid.