1. Ask a lot of questions before you accept the job.
I know we get excited about a new project and of course some more money but its important to make sure you fit the job. It's not just them qualifying you for the job, but it's you qualifying them as clients. You need to make sure you know their expectations. Understand what time they are expecting delivery and make sure it's within an acceptable time for you. Also, you need to make sure your style matches what they are looking for and that they are choosing the right person for the job. Do not get in the trap of accepting a job for the money because you will be disappointed and the client will leave disappointed. For example, if someone is looking for a wedding photographer, I send them another suggestion because I do not cover weddings. There is a special eye and technique, tools, and energy output to covering weddings. Know where your strengths lie and stay in your zone of genius.
2. Clearly outline the deliverables in written format.
After you guys have mutually determined you are the best choice for the job and you have asked every question you can think of. (Pro Tip: create a questioner template for clients to fill out, so you do not have to keep writing the same email over and over.) Make sure you write down what the client can expect delivered in a written document. Make sure it explains what is included and expected delivery date. This will protect you and the client from unrealistic expectations. Also, it makes sure everyone knows what is agreed upon
3. Keep the Communications to one stream of communication
Communication is very important, and it's even more important to have clear documentation to what was said. I always say keep the lines of communication to one method. I personally prefer email as my communication method. I choose email because it is a written documented that is backed up on the internet. So, if clients ask to make revisions, they send you wrong copy, they ask for a certain color and change their mind, it is all documented. If any type of disagreement should come
4. Show up as a professional and not as a fellow church member.
You may have met them in church, but you run a business, and it needs to be clear. So, you must present yourself well with branded emails, website, uniforms if that may apply, tax id number and invoices. The world system is cracking down, and faith-based organizations cannot pay people under that table like they used to. They have to show where their money is going. Also, faith-based organizations are now working with public relation companies, and they want to know the quality of the vendor the church chooses. If you do not present your company in a professional matter, you may lose the job to a more professional creative.
5. Speak to the decision-maker
If Possible make sure you can speak to the decision-maker. A lot of times, there are so many people sending opinions but do not have any professional credibility to do so. So instead of making revision after revision or going through the back and forth, try to keep the main communication with the decision-maker. It's fine if they need to get opinions from their staff and board, but if you are having multiple conversations, it’s a receipt for confusion, lost time, and lost wages.
6. Get a Deposit
People are truly serious above moving forward when they give you a deposit. Without a deposit, we are just discussing possibilities. Also, once you take money, you are responsible for making sure you deliver and adhere to the expectations. When people give you a deposit, they show they trust you and ready to move forward. Anyone who takes forever to make a deposit or do not want to make one but wants you to do the work either has trust issues with working with creatives, scammers or don't have access to funds. If they don't have access to funds, that also means they cannot pay you when the invoice is due.
7. Deliver on Time!
Show up and deliver on time. I know we all have times where things happen, computers crash, hospital visits, or whatever else may come up. If that does happen, communicate with the client and let them know what is going on. Most times, people are not upset that you were busy or something happen, they are disappointed that they have tried to reach you, and you never communicated with them. DON’T DISAPPEAR ON YOUR CLIENTS!
8. Take Care of Your Mental and Emotional Health
I get it! Being creative is quite draining some times. Creatives deal with expectations, deadlines, competition in our industries, depression, and so many other mental and emotional issues. I found out that it's important to have someone people you can speak with to discuss issues with — hopefully, a mentor and possibly a therapist. I think seeing a therapist in which you can share your challenges with is important. For me, my therapist needed to be a documented, licensed, non-church therapist because that was who I felt most comfortable with. Find someone who you can vent, rant and even share your successes with. Please understand Social Media is NOT the place to do that and it could most certainly backfire on you if you choose to air your rants there. The internet is not forgiving and not forgetful.