Our journey towards launching Ditto began in 2018 when co-founders Liz and Claire worked on a freelance brand strategy project together. The client was a friend-of-a-friend and we had an email chain agreeing on project scope, deliverables, and price point, so no worries, right? Wrong. We fell into the same trap that so many new-to-the-game freelancers experience. We prioritized our tender new client relationship over tactics and documentation to protect us against non-payment.
Flash forward to 6 weeks later. We delivered some pretty stunning brand strategy work that we were proud of, and the client was thrilled with. We sent over our invoice, excited for our long-awaited payday. We waited a few days- maybe the client was just behind on emails? After multiple weeks reminders of hearing nothing from this client concerning our invoice, we were feeling pretty defeated. We spoke to some other freelancers and learned that lack of and late payment is not an uncommon problem, and the solution paths aren't great. Here are some of the things we heard about how to make sure your work is protected:
1. CYA Payment Terms: Take 50% up front and 50% after project completion. This guarantees the first payment- what about the second one?
2. Rock-Solid Legalese: But let's be real- no one references a contract until things go south.
3. Legal Letters: As a last resort, many freelancers send strongly worded letters to threaten clients with outstanding invoice fees and legal action. Realistically, these threats don't mean much, because most freelance invoices aren't enough to cover legal fees if one were to take the case to small claims court.
We vowed never to fall into the same trap ever again, and we started laying the foundations for Ditto that same year. Three years later, we're still in communication with this bad client trying to get paid for work that was not only well-received, but actually used commercially for the brand.
Ditto exists to assure positive relationships and intentions for contractors and clients. We're here to help you get paid, but we're also here to give you the confidence to enter new client relationships that are positive, productive, and mutually beneficial. For every crappy client out in this big bad world, there are countless wonderful clients who will value you the way you deserved to be valued. It’s the same story for contractors. The Ditto process is designed to prevent bad work relationships before they even begin. It sets the guardrails to ensure that every relationship is set up to succeed. And as for those bag eggs? We simply don’t work with them – and you shouldn’t either.