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5.3 Delivering Your Work

You’ve finessed the negotiations, taken great photos, and made the files look stunning with subtle post-production. How do you deliver the job and wrap things up? Speedy file delivery, clear invoicing, and helpful follow-up are as important as any other part of the job process.

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5.3 Delivering Your Work

In the last lesson, we talked about client relations, creating and keeping happy clients. We're gonna continue that theme in this lesson, where we talk about delivering your work. So, you've done the shoot, the job's done. But you're not really done, you still have to deliver the final artwork to your client. Now that can be something as simple as using the cloud based service like Drop Box, which a lot of people use, or if you want something more sophisticated, you can upload via FTP to a server. If you have tons of footage, like if you're doing video assignment for example, then delivering on a physical hard drive, whether in person or by mail, may be the best solution. Regardless of how you decide to deliver the final artwork, just make sure that how and when you deliver the art is decided in your contract, up front, before you ever start. When you decide upfront then there's no missed expectations and no nasty surprises for either of you when something doesn't go right because you've already agreed on how it's supposed to go. For delivering how, the other half of it is when. For non-commercial clients, I deliver all artwork two weeks after the shoot. For commercial work, depending on what genre you're in, the retouching time could be relatively different. Food and real estate could be quicker retouching times, whereas my high-end fantasy artwork that I create has much longer lead time that I can't complete in two weeks. So make sure that you're giving that realistic turnaround time for your project. Inevitably, something will happen that will delay delivery. Whether it's your fault or not, remember the most important thing is to be upfront and honest with your client. I've only ever had one time so far where delivery has not gone on schedule. It wasn't a commercial client, it was a wedding client but the same principals still apply. The album came in and the album quality all the photos were way too dark and it wasn't an album that I could deliver to the clients. So what I did was I sent them an email that said I got your album in today. But it didn't hold up to my standard of quality, so I'm reprinting it at no cost to you, but it is going to be another six to eight weeks. The email I got back was, thanks for letting me know. If I would have gone another two months without telling that client what was happening, then I would have had an angry client, a bad review, and bad press about my brand. But because I sent them that simple email. Instead it turned into a positive customer experience. They got the perfect album that they wanted. And the six to eight weeks wasn't that bad, because I was upfront and honest with them, and they weren't wondering and left waiting. Finally you have to invoice for the work. This is a big difference if you're leaping from noncommercial into commercial photography. For noncommercial work I'll get paid upfront so invoices are kind of a moot point. It's actually more of a receipt. In commercial photography once the job's done and the files are delivered I'm usually paid 30 to 60 days out. But if you don't send that invoice right away then they have 30 to 60 days by the time you send the invoice. So if it takes you a month or two to finally get on top of things then that means four, even six months out you are finally getting that check. You need to be able to get paid sooner so you need to send out that invoice sooner. They don't have an invoice, they won't pay you. And lastly, most photographers, once they get paid, will go on their way, everyone's fine. But if you really wanna have great customer service, check in with them after everything's said and done. If you check in after you’ve already delivered the art work and after they've already paid you. Just as an extra courtesy see if there were any problems you can fix or anything else you can help them with. Several things can happen. First it can be brought to the top of their mind how you did a great job and they can refer more work your way. Secondly, if they have another project that they want you to work on, they can bring you that work as well. But if there were any problems, for instance, there was a faulty adhesive in one of the prints I gave my clients, so the art bubbled on the mount. If I wouldn't have checked in six weeks after, like I usually do, then there would have been no way of them coming back to tell me because they thought I left this out in the sun too long and this is my fault. When they showed me the print, I contacted the print company. They said it was a faulty adhesive and they replaced it free of charge. Again, I got another happy client, it was no cost to me, no cost to the client, and that's a customer service that not a lot of people think of. Remember to follow up, solve any problems, and you can turn a negative experience that, at best, gets you no comments online, at worst, gets you bad comments online. And, turn it into a positive customer experience, where people want to talk about you and refer you more work. So now you know how to deliver your final art work along with following up with your clients afterwards.

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