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The Essentials of Billing

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

June 30, 2006

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3 Ways to Ensure Prompt Payment from Customers

Greetings,

When you move ahead with a client to record a voice-over job, what's your first course of action?

For many talent, it might be recording the audio right away and then expecting payment after receipt of the files while other professionals, especially where recording for clients you meet online is concerned, start the job off with some money in their pocket (or, in their PayPal account).

Here are 3 Billing Tips that will safeguard your business online:

1. Ask for Payment Up Front

If you are invoicing the client for a small project, it should not be an issue for them to pay you the full amount prior to recording the project. For example, when you go to a store to purchase something, you don't expect the vendor to let you take the product home without paying for it first.

The solution to this issue is to assure satisfaction and be clear about all expectations regarding the project.

2. Require a Deposit

Not all jobs are small. Some can be worth tens of thousands of dollars! It is prudent to ask for a deposit before starting the job, usually 50% down is acceptable.

Other arrangements can be made for clients where ongoing work is concerned to ease the billing load, paying you more frequently while increasing their cash flow.


3. Make sure that your Agreements are Clear and in Writing

buying-food.jpgWhen you begin a business relationship with a client, all expectations, clauses, and commitments should be understood and acknowledged in a written agreement BEFORE you start recording. This includes confirmation of any irregular pronunciations, the word count, receipt of the final draft of the script, and a cost for revisions should any be required.

A signature is a powerful and binding tool for you to use to your advantage. If a client signs for something, they are stating that they fully understand the agreement and all that it entails. Should they ever go back on what they said, you have written proof of their consent.

Getting their signature is as easy as faxing the agreement to them. Calling to confirm receipt of the fax is a good idea and will keep the ball in your court. The agreement should be signed and dated by both parties.

By recording only once a financial commitment has been made to you, you are in better stead to receive proper compensation for your work and in a timely manner. All transactions should be completed before delivering the final product to ensure that you will be paid in full.

My last piece of advice is to steer clear of any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you listen to your conscience (or, your gut!), you'll know which business dealings to pursue.

Does anyone else have a tip about safe business practices to share?

Stephanie

P.S. There are a bounty of resources in the Support section of our website that will help you to develop this area of your business.


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