This is the third, and probably final, installment in my posts of lessons from my latest project. The first was on communication, second on contracts and this is about the money. If money isn’t all that important to you, then don’t waste your time reading any further. But, if you need to get paid what you’re worth to provide the necessities of life (bills, food, housing, a new camera, etc.), then read on…
When you are offered a job read the contract, and be absolutely sure that you can complete it with excellence and creativity within the agreed upon budget, and that it has enough margin to give you a good profit for your work. After you sign, do not bring up the topic of money again — unless you’ve kept your end of the agreement and the client is slow in paying.
On this project all of the producers whose work I was managing were my friends. One of them never stopped whining about money. (I just paid my rent and the utilities and bought food – I can’t pay to license the music I used on my segment of the show. I don’t have any more money.) As if their inability to budget the production money was my problem. (Well, it actually ended up being my problem – at least I had to fix it and save my reputation to my client.)
If you’re going to take someone’s money, plan on giving them more in return than they expect. This is a good life lesson. Under-promise and over-deliver.
Talk to any marriage counselor and you’ll learn that money is a bad topic of communication in most relationships. Most people don’t like talking about money, it makes them uncomfortable and defensive. It happens in business too. But unfortunately, if you don’t figure out how to handle the money thing with your client, and you end up making the client feel embarrased, defensive, cheated or let down, you’ll soon discover that clients have far less interest in working on a relationship with you than does your spouse.
Money is the cause of many divorces – in marriage and in business. Be thankful you have the gig. If the money turns out to be less than you would have liked, then determine to negotiate for more next time – but don’t screw up this client relationship – clients are hard to find. You agreed to work for what was offered. It’s now your problem – deal with it, keep smiling, over deliver and move on to the next project.