I agreed to do icon and screenshot work for a company who makes apps for a payment. Except I was kinda stupid for not backing up myself with a contract or sending previews instead of the actual design files. The payment we agreed on is on a per week basis. I've done a lot of stuff already, but still have a lot of work in the coming days. Is it still not too late to suddenly send previews instead and mention that I will need a payment before releasing the actual files? I'm to be paid today, but have nothing to back me up in case they say "we can't pay you" or something horrific like that. I think I should send the client a message about this, but not sure what to say exactly. I hope I can still do something to fix this. Help!
Step 1 - Get written confirmation of their intention to pay you for your work!
This can be done via email, or just by a letter, and asking for them to sign and return it to you to get your artwork. You haven't given them the work, so it's still all yours.
With this written confirmation, make sure it acknowledges that you have done work, and you expect $ xxx for your work in order to give it to your client. Showing the intent to pay will help you if you need to go to collections. If they refuse to sign, I would hold on to the work until they show you the money (in cash!). Anyone who runs a legit business and actually wants the work will sign the deal, or email you with intent.
Step 2 - Contact a lawyer, and get some contract templates drawn up immediately! Yes, they can cost anywhere from $150 to $750, but allowing you to fill in the blanks and keep it legal will help you further in your career. Do not start any work for any client until a contract is signed, and a scope of work has been determined.
Step 3 - ???
Step 4 - PROFIT! You've done everything you can, and now you can relax! Your next job will be easier, and you will be able to sleep at night again.