Freelance Success For Artists #3: How to Protect Yourself With Easy Contracts and Invoices | Kristen Palana | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Freelance Success For Artists #3: How to Protect Yourself With Easy Contracts and Invoices

teacher avatar Kristen Palana, Professor, Award-Winning Artist, Digital Do-Gooder

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Welcome and Introduction to Freelance Success For Artists -Part 3

    • 2. Got a Client? Protect Yourself With a Contract

    • 3. Get Paid Upfront or After the Job is Done? My Solution and Suggestions

    • 4. Use This Simple Trick to Painlessly Prepare For Taxes as a Freelancer

    • 5. Easy Invoices You Can Start Using Today Free

    • 6. Thank Your For Taking This Course. Please Review

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Are you a designer, filmmaker, illustrator, or multimedia artist looking for simple and effective ways to earn money and build your reputation doing what you love?

I'll show you tried and true best practices for finding and keeping happy, repeat clients, and how you can best build your portfolio, reputation, experience, and income the quick and easy way.

This course (divided into several smaller courses) will help you create a successful and sustainable freelance business built on a simple but powerful mantra, "Respect Yourself. Respect Your Client."

By the end of this course (Part 3) you'll confidently be able to:

  • Respect and protect yourself as a freelancer. Protect your time, money, reputation, and sanity with best business practices and never be taken advantage of again.

  • Be more professional by using the right documents to keep your business running smoothly.

I'm a tenured Associate Professor of Digital Media and the Program Director of Film & Digital Media at The American University of Rome in Italy and a practicing award-winning multimedia artist. As of July 2016, I'm currently based in Yangon, Myanmar and serving as a Visiting Associate Professor of Digital Media at American University Myanmar.

I have over 16 years of experience teaching students all over the world using my tried and true custom approach (turning complex information into something simple, memorable, easy-to-understand in as short amount of time as possible) to ensure that you get the most important, relevant, and useful information that can be applied immediately to your art, work, and everyday life.

Are you ready to get started learning new skills that can help you move forward more confidently into the future? Enroll today and join our growing learning community. See you inside the course!


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kristen Palana

Professor, Award-Winning Artist, Digital Do-Gooder


My goal is to empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

I'm an award-winning artist and educator helping empower ordinary people around the globe to communicate effectively and tell their own extraordinary stories through a variety of media. I have created dynamic content for clients including UNICEF, The United Nations Population Fund, The World Food Programme, Children International, The Aid Myanmar Society, The B-52s, and The American University of Myanmar.

I have 19+ years of experience teaching digital media and creating innovative programs and courses for secondary, undergraduate, and postgraduate students as well as adults and children with no formal education in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. I've also been teaching tens of thousands of onl... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Welcome and Introduction to Freelance Success For Artists -Part 3: welcome to this easy to follow best practices course that will help you lunch or jump star a successful business as a freelance designer or multimedia artist. This course is all about protecting yourself by getting a contract, knowing the best way to be paid for your time and talents, and will give you re sources that will help you be more professional when building your client. So stop banging your head against a wall and let's get you started. Making money and building a good reputation doing what you love. My name is Kristen Polana. I'm an artist, educator and author, teaching thousands of university students around the world. Since 2000 I've also been teaching online since 2014 to tens of thousands of students. I specialize in helping ordinary people do extraordinary things through simple, clear explanations and baby steps building upto larger things. How can I help you today? 2. Got a Client? Protect Yourself With a Contract: okay. Did you get a client who wants to hire you? Good job. But before you pop the cork on the champagne, listen up. So they sound boring and dry. But please, please get a contract. So do not believe everything you hear. If the client wants to pay you a certain amount, great, but get it in writing. They wanted by when? Great, But get it in writing. So just f Y I. I used to be so trusting. Even just a few years ago, I had verbally agreed to do a series of images or some kind of project, and in one case, the client was going to pay me 50% from book sales as opposed to buy the image. Sounds pretty good, right? But well, I didn't realize was that this particular person didn't have an established history of selling books, so there was no guarantee that they would sell and I would make any money. So I didn't have a contract done things done, and I should not then have been surprised that a few weeks into the project, where I had already done a number of images, this person asked for 12 more images which is way more than the initial 10. Um was asking for 12 more images or the book would not be complete, So it's kind of like, uh, being held hostage because I had already done a certain amount of work. But if I didn't do more work than the book wouldn't come out and therefore there wouldn't be sales and therefore wouldn't get paid. So I didn't have it in writing, and I also didn't have it in writing how she would report her book sales or lack thereof and how I would be paid so long. Story short. My only payment from my 22 images that I am very proud of was a great life lesson, which I am passing on to you get a contract for. Please do it for me then, if not for you. So I'm bringing you to a great free place to start. Doc chrissy dot com and I now used ocracy templates virtually for all of my freelance projects. Now being for video for Siris of illustrations. What have you So let me show you a little bit how it works. So go to doc chrissy dot com, and you can actually see, This one is specifically for illustrators, and it's fits on one page. It's very simple. This one is very pro artist. They're asking for a flat, nonrefundable commission fee charged up front. All rights are non exclusively licensed, and the purchaser can do all rights are non exclusively licensed. You can go through the details here, but basically this is the gist of it. But just know that you can use a template like this, but then you can change it around to suit your own needs. So let me show you what I've done with some of these, in fact, my last one. So I'm gonna just lug and Okay, so this is an example of me taking the previous template and modifying it for my needs. So right now I'm working on a video, and so obviously it's for commission video, and the dates were changed. Um, basically the description off the work was changed to be about a video and how long it was gonna be. Etcetera and, uh, talks exactly about how the work is going to be delivered. And I'm not charging for preliminary work or drafts the prices in here. It talks about how the payment will be made into where, UM, it talks about when the work is going to be delivered. And it also says Commissioner agrees that the date of delivery is not material to this agreement. Grant of Rights. So this is for the commissioner to do whatever they want with this, but that I still retain the right to display my work in my own portfolio and that I get credit for the work. So my name has to be on it, right? So authorship credits, uh, commissioner, except Artist's creative vision. This is an important one because it keep protects you from a client who basically doesn't know what they want and wants you to make 20 different revisions. So this is artists will complete work, an artist creative style at artists sole discretion. Cancel it cancellation and expiration, limitation of liability, etcetera. So I'll let you have a look at a sample contract just so you can get an idea of how you might change things. But one nice thing about this template is first of all, you get a record of all the different versions. You can easily send messages to your client and go back and forth until you're both happy with the agreement and then you decide to sign. It becomes a legal contract. Everyone is on the same page. Everybody knows what's expected and you are protected. And bonus ding, ding, ding. You also are much more professional by sending your client contract Now. This, of course, only applies when you're doing everything on your own. If you're using a freelancing website or website like Fiverr, they're gonna probably have their own contracts in terms for that particular website. So do used ocracy if you are working on your own from your own website or for your own clients away from someone else's platform or website and do make changes so that the documents suits your needs. So I will give you a resource template that you can use on and basically have a look at it , and hopefully you will find this helpful. So whatever you do before proceeding with your work, do get everything in writing. I promise you, if your client is a respectable person, they will not be upset with you or bulk it all and committing their words to paper. Got it? Good, good luck. See in the next lesson 3. Get Paid Upfront or After the Job is Done? My Solution and Suggestions: All right. So here's another popular question. I get a lot. Should I get paid up front? Should I do the work first and then get the payment after or some combination of the two? Well, it actually depends on the kind of work you're doing. How much time is it gonna take, Etcetera. But let me just show you an example. So the template that I showed you in the last lesson is actually set up where the artist gets paid everything in full before any of the work begins. Now I tend to be overly empathetic. And so I like to also see it from the client's point of view as well. In which case, How do I know? Unless you have a really good working relationship already, If someone's doing work for me, am I really gonna plunk down a few $1000 or a few $100? And before that, they even get me any work? Yeah, that might make me feel a little bit weird, so I have a bit of a compromise. So here's me taking the previous document and modifying it a little bit for a series of illustrations I did in April May, and what I did is actually made it so that Ah, for the beginning of the project. So this was for 20 illustrations. I had the client pay me half off the work up front, and then, um, so half of the payment must be made in full up front before any work begins. The other half will be paid after all 20 final images are delivered to the commissioner. Payment should be made in the method and manner specified by artist. In my case, we did it through PayPal. Work is to be delivered no later than may 30th 2016. But commissioner agrees that the date of delivery is not material to this agreement. So this worked out pretty well. The client paid me up front for half. I then did all 20 images. And then after I sent him the final image image number 20 he paid the other half, so that was a good compromise, I think, um, for the video project that I'm working on now because I wanted to show my goodwill, I actually decided to do the video first. And because I trust the institution that I'm working with, that they're you know, honest people, uh, actually have it so that in the contract it says they need to pay me within 30 days of delivery of the final video. So in the end, I can't again answer the question of how people should pay you. Only you can answer that, but just take it as a case by case basis. In some instances, you might want to be paid upfront. In some cases, you might want to be paid half up front and half at the end. I think that's the best agreement overall. And then in other instances, if you're feeling particularly generous, slash you trust the people, they're working with Allah and you want to know, Um, I don't know, come across as more noble than you can charge them afterwards. Just do not do that last one. If you're not familiar with your client and they don't have a good record off paying people on time or at all, Okay, I hope this is helpful. And see in the next lesson 4. Use This Simple Trick to Painlessly Prepare For Taxes as a Freelancer: Hey there. So this lesson is all about the dreaded T where don't done Texas, which is the last thing I want to think about, to be honest when I'm doing Ah, wonderful freelance project. But sadly, it's something that we all have to think about. So you don't want any nasty surprises awaiting you down the road because you forgot to plan for the tax man or woman. So let me just, uh, oversimplify because first of all, I have, uh, students from 162 countries around the world. So, unfortunately, I can't get into every specific countries tax laws. That would be kind of impossible. But I will tell you what I do, and I have a slightly more complicated situation than most. So I'm in American and Portuguese citizen, living in Myanmar, married to a German and have been working in Italy the past 10 years. So needless to say, although I am very much a do it yourself kind of gal, I really do need help with my taxes. And I have a text person, an international tax person. She's actually in Italy, and I'm gonna tell you what she advised me, especially when I was more formally doing freelance work for clients over the past few years. So basically she told me that the best thing to do because I when I was starting out, I didn't know if I was staying in Italy. Was I going back to the US? Where was I moving? So it didn't make sense for me to open Ah, specific business on L. L. C or any thing like that. So what I did is I kept myself as a business, but just under my own name, which means basically no special paperwork. And as I took freelance clients, I would just make a record of how much they paid and would take away. She basically told me to save 30 to 40% of my earnings for taxes. I actually did a little bit more than that. I did 50% and what I did is I took my earnings. I just pretended, like I didn't even earn that and put it away in the bank account that I would never touch, lock it up and then when I did pay taxes. So I just recently before I moved to Myanmar, I paid what's called a self employment tax in the U. S. And it actually was far less than what I had saved away. So it was great, because I paid my 2015 taxes and I pre paid my 2016 taxes with much of the money that was left over. So my suggestion to you is a figure out what the tax laws are in your country and get some good advice, if not from a person in person than online. Read a book. Get some good software, etcetera. So knowledge is power number two. Make sure that when you're taking money from your clients that you always save, I mean 30% is more or less OK, but if you can do more, that's even better and just pretend like it doesn't even exist because it's basically becomes, ah kind of savings and bank account. So when you do have to pay its not so painful because you're actually getting money that's leftover, that you can either used to treat yourself to something or you can use to save away for a rainy day. So this is very oversimplified advice, but this is what I do, and I find it's very efficient, pain, painless way to pay my taxes. So I hope this is helpful. See in the next lesson 5. Easy Invoices You Can Start Using Today Free: he there? Okay, So have you decided to finally send your invoice to your client? Well, I found a really great resource, and I'm sure there are lots of other great resource is out there. This is just the one that I use. So this is a next dot com and they do have a free service that you can start out with. That's kind of how they got me. So I started out using their free service, and then I think it was two weeks after it ended. I ended up keeping them because I found it so useful. So let me just log in. Okay? So here you can see a list of invoices that I've done, and you can see that it keeps track of who's paid me how much, etcetera. And, um, if I need to go back into any of them, I just click on the invoice and it will give me the information about that person What it was that was ordered and ah, everything. Everything. So it's a very, very easy to set up. If I want Teoh, I can make a new invoice. So let me see if I go under sales I can make a new invoice. Okay, so it automatically enters my information, actually have to update that, um Because I don't live in Italy anymore. It gives me the invoice number, the day etcetera. I can put in an existing customer or go with a new customer, and I just put in my whatever it was that I did. So if it was a service, and then I can describe it here the price, the quantity. Okay. And then it will automatically calculate for me, etcetera. So it's all here. I can leave notes for the recipient once I have the, uh, the customer in here. Okay, So I'm gonna use my fellow, you demean structure just as an example and illustration wrong. So make sure your invoices have no typos, and that's it. So let's say I'm happy with this. This is just a test one. Then I can go and send it first. Have to save it. Okay, so it's been saved, and then I can go and send it, okay? And it's, um if I need to add an email address, I can It's using one that I already have in the system, and I can add my message. So one nice thing about a necks is once Thekla I int opens up thean voice you get ah, notification saying that they've opened it up so you don't have to worry about Oh, Did they get it? Did they not get it? Um, etcetera And usually I would say, nine times out of 10. I hope you have good luck. Most people pay right away. I usually put in my invoices that they have 30 days to pay if I'm being generous. Um, but I haven't. Luckily, I haven't had any problem. I know. For other people, that has not been the case. So one nice thing also about using an invoice system. Everybody has a record of everything. You have records for your taxes. They have records for their taxes, and it's professional. Everything's all spelled out. Everybody knows what needs to be done. What needs to be paid the dude a etcetera. So I highly recommend you either get started with the free version of Annex or try some other invoicing system that you can get started sending professional invoices to your clients right away. So just one last thing I wanted to mention This particular invoicing system lets people pay online by credit card. But I have had people ask if they can do a bank transfer instead, which is fine. You just give them your bank details. Obviously, I won't be praying my bank details unless you want to send me money. Ah, in this lesson. But that would be something where you would then maybe unchecked this and then in the message, you could give the bank details or in a separate message. I'm a big fan of my invoicing system because everything is where I need it. I confined everything from the past. I can keep track of who's paid, who hasn't. Luckily, everyone's paid and bonus. It makes you look very professional and we all want to be not only looked professional but be professional, so I hope this helps and see you in the next lesson. 6. Thank Your For Taking This Course. Please Review: thank you for taking this course. I hope you found my tips and tricks helpful, clear and easy to use for yourself. Please remember, you can always ask me a question by starting a discussion or by contacting me through my website or Facebook page. If you did find value in this course, please do take a moment to leave a rating or review. Your feedback helps me best provide a high quality course experience for you and your online classmates. I also look forward to giving you personal feedback on your project. Click the project, but and under the video lessons to start. Thanks so much for being a student in my online classroom. I hope to see you again soon.