I am in LOVE with my new Helpouts project — it’s perfect because it allows me to work one-on-one with bloggers who have great attitudes and amazing ideas, but need a push in the right direction when it comes to some of the technical or business stuff.
(If you want to book time with me, click here and send me a message. I do post my availability on the scheduling tool but it’s actually a little easier if you and I work it out behind the scenes first, then I send you a link to complete the booking.)
It’s also a treasure trove of ideas for blog posts, because I know that if a question comes up in a Helpout, it’s probably something that many of you are worried about as well.
A common theme in the last two weeks has been: “Once I book a client or campaign, how do I invoice/report/settle up?”
Here are some of the key things to keep in mind to not only be a good partner on one project, but to develop a good reputation (because a lot of these projects come from agencies that oversee multiple brands!) and get more and more jobs.
1) No matter how big or small the project, be professional!
Even if you’re just swapping services or selling the most basic of banner ads, be professional. That means creating and following a contract that includes strict deliverables and payment details. My favorite tools for this kind of contract are:
- Adobe EchoSign
- FreshBooks (which I blogged about here — it is for many of you the best choice because you can build everything into one piece of paper)
- PassionFruit Ads (which is a really great tool for making the sale, although you may still want to do some deliverable reports separately)
This contract is to hold you accountable, but it also protects you so there is no confusion between you and your client. Make sure you are specific about what you have been contracted to do (example: 1 blog post by XX date, four social shares that may be on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram) and what the deadlines are.
When you agree to take on a project, you may think that saying social media promotion is included is enough, but what if you plan to share it once on Facebook and the client thinks he/she is getting 10 shares? Having it listed is crucial for both parties.
2) Track and report all deliverables.
This is SUCH an important item — because it’s the only way you can show the client that it got what it paid for. So if your contract calls for a blog post, a share on Twitter and a share on Facebook, make sure you put all three links into your final report (to find date-stamped Facebook and Twitter URLs, follow the instructions here).
I sometimes ask for the money up front, if it’s a new client or a time-consuming project that would put all of the risk on me. In that case, I send the invoice and collect payment but often say that the client may be able to file a dispute if the deliverables are not met.
But typically, for returning clients, I’ll invoice after the work is complete and I’ll include all appropriate and relevant links on that paperwork.
3) Invoice in a timely fashion.
Make sure that the payment terms are agreed upon early — some clients need 90 days after receiving the final invoice, or you may decide you want payment up front. Once that’s clear, make sure that you deliver all paperwork as soon as it’s ready (so if you finish your final deliverable on Monday morning, the invoice is sent out within 48 hours or so).
4) YOU drive the boat.
Some clients are amazing to work with. They respond quickly, help answer any questions and send you your payment promptly. But even the good ones are often managing multiple projects, bloggers, clients, etc., so you can’t really wait for them to take charge.
If you’re waiting on payment or need something from them (an image for the blog post, or details on a giveaway), gently but firmly make sure they understand what you need and what the consequences of not receiving it are. If you have a contract that states the post will go up on Monday and you have not received your information by Sunday at noon, make sure that you let them know that the post date might have to get pushed.
Obviously, I urge you to be professional and easy to work with. Don’t throw a hissy fit. But do stay on top of things. If you need clarification, make sure you ask for it (better to get what you need and do a good post that fulfills your clients needs than just moving forward with incomplete details).
5) Go above and beyond.
This is perhaps the most important part of being a good partner. You must complete what your contract calls for. But why stop there? Don’t be disingenuous, but when you can, find ways to support the client over time — add it to a Twitter list so you can RT status updates when appropriate, or jump in and answer questions that your readers may have (if you review a shoe and someone wants to know how it fits wide feet, get an answer! post a response video or get a statement from the brand!).
Catch up on other posts that may help: