Work as a freelance writer long enough and you will have some kind of issue with getting paid. Since writers often work on a tight schedule–and budget, this can be more than a mere inconvenience. There are some things you can do to try and rectify the issue. Try these:
- Screen clients when possible. Try to check out a client ahead of time if you can. If you don’t feel good about taking them on, then don’t. Sometimes your gut instinct is right.
- Give a little time. I can’t tell you how many checks came two or three days after I was ready to pick up the phone and call. Try to build in a grace period if you can.
- Follow up politely. Often a missing check is just an oversight, and one that can be fixed quickly. Don’t have an attitude when you follow up. It won’t get you anywhere.
- Ask when you can expect payment. Once someone has followed up on the issue, be sure to nail down a time frame within which you can expect your check.
- Get it in writing. Do your follow up by e-mail whenever possible. This gives you a solid record of all communications. Even if you don’t plan small claims court action, people tend to feel more nervous about going back on something they put in writing.
- Be persistent. I once had to follow up…you won’t believe this…twelve times before I got paid. I think they just got totally sick of me and wanted me to go away. I sent reminders on a regular basis.
- Add a late fee. If you are coming up with a project bid, tack on a late payment fee.
- Go over the person’s head. I only recommend this in cases where the person you are dealing with doesn’t seem to be doing anything. Do a little investigating and see if you can come up with a contact that is higher on the food chain.
If you have had success at getting a payment from a client who initially didn’t make it on time, please feel free to share your techniques here for others. After all, we’re all in this together, right?