Graphic Design Podcast :: The Deeply Graphic DesignCast

Where’s My Money?!

Where’s My Money?!

Join the DesignCast crew as Wes McDowell, Mikelle Morrison, and Nick Longo dip into the  headlines of their lives!

Once in a while we like to dip into our personal experiences, peeling back the curtain and talking about events that have affected us in recent months – customer issues, invoicing problems, and the general craziness of being in the wild world of design.

Why make the mistakes when you can learn about them from us?


Unless you are an accountant moonlighting as a designer, invoicing is probably one of the scarier parts of the business.

How do you bypass all the possible pitfalls? How can you be sure you can get the money you’ve earned when, sometimes, a client might not want to pay?

How do you cover yourself?

It’s rarely a black and white situation. A client might have the wrong idea of what finished means when it comes to a website, for example, not realizing that your part of the job is completed. Or a family emergency may pop up and divert their attention, leaving you in the lurch even as you send follow up emails for weeks. Or, maybe, they just weren’t very serious to begin with.

Wes outlines a recent situation where a client, having not yet fulfilled their end of the process by providing the copy for the site, refused to pay the remainder for the completed project. He outlines step by step how he handled the problem, and what you can do to head off such an issue yourself.

Other times there is little you can do about the more serious situations except count it as a loss and attempt to soften the blow to your finances. Mikelle talks us through a few situations where, in the end, she let her accountant deal with the losses at tax time.

And don’t think it is just the smaller clients that play with your payments! Nick spends some time filling us in on a large corporate client that loved his work, and yet still decided not to pay him because they weren’t successful in using the completed project to its fullest. Complicating matters was the fact the company in question was in Florida, while Nick is in California, meaning he would need to travel across country to press for the money.

Let us know your experiences!

Tell us your experiences! Have you had an issue collecting the money you earned? Did it change how you approach the business as a whole? What did you take away from the experience?

Tell us all about it in the comments below!

 Todays Listener Question:

As designers, we are asked to create things that our clients will use to improve their business, or sell a product, or maybe show support for a cause.

What do you do if a client wants to hire you to create something you aren’t comfortable with? Flyers for a political party you dislike, posters for or against a particular social issue, or an ad designed to sell something you have serious doubts about…

Do you do it because it’s a job? Or do you step back from the situation and decline?

Show Links:

  • Shake – A web and mobile app designed to make creating small, simple contracts as easy as a handshake.
  • FreshBooks– Cloud based accounting and invoicing software.
  • LegalZoom – LegalZoom is the nation’s leading provider of personalized, online legal solutions for small business owners and families.
  • Shutterstock: Promo code DEEP814 for 20% off any image subscription!
  • – Visit to start your free trial

discuss this post

(4) responses

Brian Parker

August 31, 2014

First of all – thank you so much for your work on the podcast, guys. I found you about three months ago and have already heard every episode. It is very helpful to listen to other designers and stories of their experiences.

I was a little surprised to hear your answer to Matt’s question on this one. Sure, everyone needs the paycheck, but how do you put a price on your personal values?

I’d have to turn down the project just so I could sleep at night. What if your work were super-effective for a cause you fight in your free time? That would be pretty tough to stomach, but there are business reasons not to do this work, too…

1 – It may cost you work with agencies you’d love to team up with. Great “kill puppies” work won’t help you land a project with “The Dumb Friends League.” In fact, it’d probably disqualify you outright.

2 – You may become publicly tied to an organization/ campaign that doesn’t match your values and permanently damage your brand. Imagine if the local news ran a feature on this new campaign by [your firm here]. Yikes!

3 – If I accept an objectionable project, I’m going to spend a lot of time talking with people I don’t like. That’s a bad recipe for success and could negatively impact other projects and interaction.

Just my two cents… Traditional business dogma says you leave things like religion and politics out of the workplace, but as freelancers we get to make the rules.

My business represents everything that I am and believe in. And I believe that level of honesty is very compelling.

Any additional thoughts?


    Wes McDowell

    September 5, 2014

    Hey Brian, I totally get what you’re saying, and I think where we really came down was to just do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If its something you REALLY are opposed to, and you can afford to not take the job, then that would of course be ideal. But if it makes more sense for you to just separate your personal and professional lives (some people can, some can’t,) then go for it. Its just all about what you can and want to deal with.


    Chris Snee

    June 24, 2015

    This comment has the link:

    Hey Wes, love the podcast. I’ve learned a lot from your show, ESPECIALLY this episode. Lots of lessons here, unfortunately I heard them a little too late. This client was is so difficult to get to pay up that its been 9 months, and I haven’t seen a cent. To make matters worse, I referred them to 2 other illustrators, whom the ripped off as well. Had I required a 50% deposit, I would at least not have to walk away from this empty handed. If I had contracts, I could perhaps take this to court and have a case. But in my haste, I required neither and now have nothing to show for this huge freelance project that was the cover of the October issue of Region’s Business. Please share this and spread the word to any designer, illustrator and artist so they know how important it is to protect yourself from these slimey creative predators. It seems the only thing that gets these people’s attention is social media, so if you could help me spread the word online I might have a chance of getting myself and the other two illustrators compensated for our hard work.



October 25, 2016

Hello, from Khromatix!
We just discovered your podcast about a week ago and have been binging ever since lol we have recently run into a slightly unique issue lately. A potential client notified us that another designer he found had stolen the logo we have previously designed for a client and was trying to sell it via Twitter. The logo even had our watermark from concept stage. We we’re not sure how to handle it and Twitter hasn’t really supplied much help. Any experience in the area? I don’t think we would have been as upset if it didn’t cost us a potential project. Loving the show you guys are awesome! Bless


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