It would be nice to live in a world where everyone was honest and paid artists as they should. Sadly, that is not a reality. An artist should accept that some people may try to stiff you. You do not want to be in that position, and the following should help ensure that you get paid for your work.
Draft a Contract
One thing you need to do as an artist is draft a contract. This may seem like you are going too far, especially when you are dealing with someone you know but it is a necessary step. It is even possible that family may stiff you for the work you do.
You want to make sure that you include a clear breakdown of what the other party is paying for. The contract should also include a statement of rights, which is a fancy way of stating who own's what. It is important to discuss consequences of non-payment, such as interest fees or revoked ownership. Those who do not feel comfortable drafting a contract can look up a freelance contract template or contact a lawyer.
Make Partial Payment a Requirement
Another step you should take is making sure that no contract is initiated until partial payment is paid. It may be harder to get clients when you ask them to pay a specific amount before you begin working, but you are taking a chance on each other. This is a simple way of building trust.
Make sure you include your required partial payment in the contract and specify what the client can expect from you after paying that initial amount. Being as clear as you can about this payment makes it easier to trust you. Try to remember that you are doing this to avoid getting stiffed, which is a lot more detrimental to your life than missing out on a potential client and wasting your time.
Do an Extensive Online Search
Another tool that might be helpful to you is an online people search site that allows you to find out more about a person's background. All you need is some basic information from a potential client in order to search online. You can find out information on this person's professional affiliations or assets.
You can also get police arrest records, criminal history, and any liens. All of this information should help you evaluate a potential client before you do business with him or her. Be sure to use more than just a free site to ensure you get all the information rather than just partial information. Hopefully, this information helps you deal with a more trustworthy client.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
You may still work for a client who will try to stiff you, no matter how much you try to avoid it. You probably already know to employ tactics like sending an invoice or emailing the client about payment. You might have even called a few times to politely inquire about payment without seeing a positive result. At this point, you might want to consider turning your attention online.
Everything online is recorded, and every action has the potential of reaching a number of people at a time. This is something all businesses and individuals are aware of, which you can use to your advantage. What you want to do is post a comment inquiring about payment. Make sure your comment is clear but as professional as possible. Online reputation is vital for business owners and individuals, so this step may help get you paid.
These are just some steps you can take to ensure you get paid as a freelance artist. You should find out more about the laws regarding freelance work in your state because they are different from state to state.