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  1. #1
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    Lost a client (need advice)

    Even though I have been doing webdesign for a long time Ive relitivly new at doing freelance work. I lady contacted me reently asking me to redesign her site. She was reffered to me though a previous client. She seemed very nice and we discussed how we were gonna go about her redesign. She seemed very open to my ideas and she seemed very open to whatever worked.

    We discussed price ($750 USD).....for 8 page site, all custom hand-coded HTML/CSS with all custom graphics and logo design included. She said she was comfortable with the price and so we began.

    For 2 weeks we talked a few times regarding the site....and I put in a good amount of hours getting to a design and graphics that I felt we would both be happy with. When the time came I sent her a screenshot of the site and told her that it was just a first stab and we could edit and change everything to our liking.

    BOOM! she dissapeard! I havnt heard from her since.....its been two weeks now and she hasnt returned any of my emails. I hve a feeling she made a break for it......maybe she didnt like the site, maybe she wasnt ready who knows.

    Point is im gonna call her this weekend and I was wondering how some of you would handle it. If she said she found someone else should I just be classy and tell her it was nice working with her? Should I confront her and tell her she should pay me somerthing for all the time I put in? Should I curse her out? Should I go to small claims?

    I did learn one thing out of all this......never do work without a contract or at LEAST a down payment........I didnt want to do that yet because Im just starting at freelancing. But i guess if anything I learned my lesson.

    Anyway - Any advice would help - Thanks

    PS. I attached a screenshot of the sample layout I sent her in case you guys were thinking that maybe the site was just ugly.......she said she wanted simple yet sharp, so thats what I thought I gave her. /mFP
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict Synaesthesiac's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Being a beginning freelancer doesn't matter... a contract is a MUST. Not only for the project at hand, but for protection later on down the road (e.g., client gives you material to include in the design that infringes on someone else's copyright, and the victim sues you for damages). Don't skimp on this one next time!

    A 30-50% deposit is also a must, in my opinion... it's important for both you and your client to have something invested at the beginning of any given project. You've already learned why.

    I don't think it's appropriate to tell her she should pay you something for your design, since if she's disappeared she obviously has no intentions of doing so and without a contract, you can't prove that she actually commissioned you to do the design in the first place. And don't bother cursing her out... think of your future reputation All it takes is your name alongside one bad review in a message board to make future prospective clients look to the next web designer in line.

    Just think of this as a learning experience and be better prepared for future dealings with clients.
    Danielion
    Imagine a world without hypothetical scenarios...

  3. #3
    Non-Member Egor's Avatar
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    Call her, and nicely ask why you haven't heard from her. Don't jump to any conclusions - who knows what might have happened. Maybe she had an accident, maybe she's overloaded with other commitments.

    This reminds me of my first ever client. He took a very long time to respond to my emails, and provide me with feedback, and the content necessary to progress with the site. It also took a while to get payed. His excuse was that he was tired from work and had no time.

    What I had learned, is putting a bit of pressure on the client is necessary to speed things up. Also, visiting them in person is much more effective than email or telephone.

    Good luck. Chances are, everything will be fine.

  4. #4
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    I definatly learned my leson about the contract/desposit.......but going forward, I dont even know how to get a contract drafted. So I just pop open word and type my own? Or is there somewhere where I can pay to have a generic contract made? Do you guys know of anywhere I could get this done>?

    Anyway, it is possible shes just busy I know. But I dont see how dissapearing for 2 weeks is excusable! All she had to do was respond to an email that says "Busy now!" ............. that would have been suffice. I mean how bust could someone be? If they have time to use the bathroom and eat, they got time to write an email.

    Sigh - but anyway Im gonna give her a call either today or monday, well see! -mFP

  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot Easy Webster's Avatar
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    I hope she's just been busy and it will turn out ok.

    Best wishes,

    Teresa
    Come See What We Have To Offer! Custom Design or Sitebuilder
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict Synaesthesiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrFancyPants
    I definatly learned my leson about the contract/desposit.......but going forward, I dont even know how to get a contract drafted. So I just pop open word and type my own? Or is there somewhere where I can pay to have a generic contract made? Do you guys know of anywhere I could get this done>?
    Don't write your own contract... do a search on Google for "web development contract" and check everything out.
    Danielion
    Imagine a world without hypothetical scenarios...

  7. #7
    Non-Member Egor's Avatar
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    ^ THe problem is, they may interfer with the country's specific laws ya know... Most of the cookie-cutter contracts are made by Americans - there'fe only of use to Americans.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict Synaesthesiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstwntd
    ^ THe problem is, they may interfer with the country's specific laws ya know... Most of the cookie-cutter contracts are made by Americans - there'fe only of use to Americans.
    mrFancyPants is located in NY.
    Danielion
    Imagine a world without hypothetical scenarios...

  9. #9
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    Yeah guys thanks for the advice.........actually im thinking that I might just go to a lawyer and get a generic contract done for me.......I belong to a union for my full time job and I get a decent discount by using a specific lawyer company here in the states. So I might take advantage of it and get it done right. I plan on doing this for a while so Id feel more comfortable covering my behind.

    Anyway Im gonna give this lady a call on Monday. Ill post and let you guys know how it went. Thanks again for your help - mFP

  10. #10
    Non-Member Egor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Synaesthesiac
    mrFancyPants is located in NY.
    That's not what I was getting at.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict Synaesthesiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstwntd
    That's not what I was getting at.
    Oh, sorry Were you speaking in a general sense?
    Danielion
    Imagine a world without hypothetical scenarios...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Synaesthesiac
    Don't write your own contract... do a search on Google for "web development contract" and check everything out.
    Just starting out on Web designing myself. After reading this thread and a few similiar threads, im guessing the contract is prett important. After googling around a little bit, one of these is going to cost me a couple hundred bucks and/or a lawyer.

    Are there any free prewritten ones? or a few guidelines on how to write my own?
    It's ok if it's based off only American laws, since this is only what i need.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict Synaesthesiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absorb
    Just starting out on Web designing myself. After reading this thread and a few similiar threads, im guessing the contract is prett important. After googling around a little bit, one of these is going to cost me a couple hundred bucks and/or a lawyer.

    Are there any free prewritten ones? or a few guidelines on how to write my own?
    It's ok if it's based off only American laws, since this is only what i need.
    You're most likely not going to find a free, pre-written contract. This is something that you should be willing to invest a little bit of money in, if you are serious about your work. I have seen them online for $100 and under, with no need for a lawyer.
    Danielion
    Imagine a world without hypothetical scenarios...

  14. #14
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    You have to ask yourself, if you do pay all this money for a professionally made up contract, will you be able to afford the legal fees to enforce it? And will it be worth it? On a job that you quoted $750 of labor and only did one mock-up -- how much is collectable and how much are you willing to pay to collect it?

    You would probably be better served to get a generic legal contract from a book at the bookstore (like the Graphic Artist Guild's handbook) or a website and customizing it to your needs. A court will not throw out your claim because you didn't write sentence b in sub-paragraph 4 just right. Besides, in most cases, just having a contract will be enough to keep most clients in line. IMO, of course. YMMV.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Nadia P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrFancyPants
    Or is there somewhere where I can pay to have a generic contract made? Do you guys know of anywhere I could get this done>?
    I feel for what you are going through. Been there done that. Now, nothing is started until a contract has been exchanged and a deposit paid.

    I think we all do the wrong things when we first start out. You know, you may just be a bit paranoid and there actually may be no problem
    The other possibility is that she is a 'tyre kicker' and just wanted to see what was possible and may or may not get back to you later.

    I would contact her by phone and see what she has to say. Be nice, even if she isn't ready for the site, she maybe one day!

    As for contracts, here is a small biz pack that is excellent. I have the docs and they are very beneficial - especially for start ups. You can modify them to suit your business or use as they are:
    http://dreamweaverresources.com/webbiztools.htm

    and don't forget sitepoint has a web design business kit as well...
    http://www.sitepoint.com/launch/005dfd4/3/4

    good luck !!

    Nadia

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrFancyPants
    I attached a screenshot of the sample layout I sent her in case you guys were thinking that maybe the site was just ugly.......she said she wanted simple yet sharp, so thats what I thought I gave her. /mFP
    It is a very nice design.

  17. #17
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    Working as a freelancer for several years now, I've ran into all kinds of wacky scenarios and clients. What you are going through is not all that uncommon. In fact, there have been several times where a client has commissioned me for a site, signed a contract and paid a 50% deposit (I take 50% up front from all new clients, no exceptions) only to literally dissappear for what seems like months on end!

    A lot of people do not realize the amount of work they have to put into the creation of a site and when we as designers/developers put their feet to the fire, they often choose to ignore us.

    One thing you shouldn't do is panic! It's very likely that she literally has not had any time to put together some feedback. I sent a client a comp once and didn't hear back for about 6 months (I gave up trying to get this guy to move forward and since he paid 1/2 up front, I was compensated). He finally contacted me and we moved forward (something that wouldn't have happened if I was ever rude or insulting to him).

    However, if she continues to dodge you for another couple of weeks, it certainly does not hurt to bill her for your time with a note that says you are perfectly happy to finish the project whenever she is ready!

    I look forward to hearing how things turned out!

    Corey

  18. #18
    SitePoint Evangelist Unit7285's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dollarwebs
    In fact, there have been several times where a client has commissioned me for a site, signed a contract and paid a 50% deposit (I take 50% up front from all new clients, no exceptions) only to literally dissappear for what seems like months on end!
    Too true! My current record is 3 years and counting for a client who paid half of an $11,000 contract up front in 2001 but has yet to give me the go ahead to do any work for it, apart from the 'Coming Soon' page. We talk every few months and I guess they'll eventually get organised...

    For a two week gap in communications, your client might simply have gone on holiday - who knows? A polite phone call with an open mind will find out what's happening.

    Not everybody shares their diary details with the hired help, which is what you are to her.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unit7285
    Not everybody shares their diary details with the hired help, which is what you are to her.
    That is true...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unit7285
    Too true! My current record is 3 years and counting for a client who paid half of an $11,000 contract up front in 2001 but has yet to give me the go ahead to do any work for it, apart from the 'Coming Soon' page. We talk every few months and I guess they'll eventually get organised...
    OMG, that's too funny! Gotta love the clients who can throw up over $5k and then sit on their hands for 3 years (and counting)... would you be offended if I asked who they were so I could try and bid on the project?

    Corey


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