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simonfarussell

Working with US clients from the UK

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I've been contacted by a firm in the US (I'm in the UK) to do some freelance work with them.

I have no reason not to believe they are a reputable firm but naturally I don't want to do a whole bunch of work and then have problems getting paid. I was wondering what the most sensible approach is to handling the client is and what points to insist on? (Contracts/up front fee/just cross my fingers etc) Or any general experience or advice people have?

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Hey Simon. I'm in Canada and I do a bunch of work for US clients.

 

Same rules that apply for any client.

 

Number one is get a deposit. We do either 50% Upfront and 50% on completion. Or else on larger projects a smaller initial deposit with several milestone payments at several stages (example 25% deposit 25% on approval of design, 25% on approval of rough animation, 25% on final delivery).

 

Research the company as much as you can online too especially if it's a large project. It's amazing what you can dig up if you do some dilligent googling.

 

Also I strongly suggest speaking to them first via skype, so you can see them face to face.

 

Finally write up a good contract, and get everything in writing. To my mind writing up a good contract is not about the legalese it's just a document that really clearly lays out both sides responsibilities and obligations to avoid misunderstandings down the road.

 

Aside from timezone and cultural differences it's really all the same stuff as for local/national clients.

 

Good luck!

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Thanks Anothername. That helps a lot. I rarely use contracts or receive upfront payments.

Regarding get a contract, I assume I can use a template? Is it best to have a trawl through the post here on Mograph ('Contracts and legalities of getting paid') ?

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also dont forget to talk about payment methods. The US is kinda behind the times in that way. Most companies still insist on paying with checks over there. Its nuts.

 

I generally just tell em to do a wire transfer and deduct whatever the fee's are.

 

paypal is a good approach, but since they charge on percentage on big projects the fees can really become ridiculous.

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Regarding get a contract, I assume I can use a template?

 

 

Yes take a look at the AIGA template contract. A contract doesn't need to be long and complicated. On a basic level just needs to spell out what you are going to deliver, when, what you are charging, what you need from the client to do your work, what are the milestones (we specify certain sign off stages so client cannot go back and change their mind or else has to pay for these extra changes), how you are going to handle changes and revisions.

 

Some stuff extra stuff we have found it's handy to stipulate in our contract:

 

We have the right to use the work we create on our website, reel etc.

 

Client is responsible for any final legal clearances before a spot airs

 

A penalty if the project is delayed past a certain point once started

 

Usually there is a kill clause that specifies an hourly rate to be paid for all work completed up to a certain point, if the client wants to terminate the contract prior to final delivery.

 

Hope this helps. The clearer the contract the less stress and the less chance there is for disputes on both sides, you really don't need all the legal mumbo jumbo if you don't have a lawyer simple clear english is fine.

 

A lot of companies have a standard vendor contract they will have you sign, still good to write up your own doc so they can clearly see what your expectations are, usually you can have your contract included as an appendix to their standard contract.

 

All this stuff is just my fairly limited experience I am far from an expert on this stuff, I joined a small business coaching group in my area this can be a big help to get some free guidance for contracts, accounting and all the related stuff we would rather not have to deal with:)

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I am going the other way. From US to UK. I'm not sure about the exchange rate. Say I want to get $100.00 from my client in the UK, what do I charge them in their currency? A check does seem better than some middle man transfer service taking a fee.

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