4 Secret Ways Freelance Writers Make Sure They Get Paid

by Anne Wayman

Freelance Writers Make Sure They Get PaidSuccessful freelance writers make sure they get paid for their writing work. Although like you, I hear many horror stories about writers chasing payment from clients who should know better, another truth is you can maximize your chances of getting paid with these four secrets:

Written contract

Successful freelance writers make sure they get paid by having a written contract for every piece of paid writing they do. They do this for two reasons:

  1. A written agreement helps make sure you and your client know what you started out to do.
  2. The second is a written contract makes it much easier to collect if the client fails to pay when invoiced.

This doesn’t mean you have to hire a lawyer to write a contract (note, I’m not a lawyer; this is based on my experience). A simple Letter of Agreement works. Even an email that gives some detail and states how much you’re being hired for, when payment is due will work and how the payment will be made can be sufficient.

Get paid upfront

The best way freelance writers make sure they get paid is to get paid before they begin writing. It’s not unusual for to ask for as much as fifty percent in advance; in some cases you can ask for one-hundred percent. This is particularly true when dealing with new clients, but also works well when your working with established clients.

For large projects, like long white papers, reports, books and other efforts that command a big paycheck, dividing the payments in smaller amounts may make sense.

Prompt invoicing

Invoicing as soon as the writing project is finished or a milestone is reached is one of the ways freelance writers make sure they get paid. We often invoice even if we’re pretty sure payment will be made promptly.

Sure there are exceptions. For example, I have an ongoing blogging contract for x blogs a month, payable at $x per blog. When we set the deal up I asked if they wanted me to invoice and they said it wasn’t necessary, so I don’t. But if they’re ever late paying me you can bet I’ll send an invoice.

It almost never hurts to send an invoice and it’s a good practice to do so.

Successful freelancers also add late payment penalties to over due invoices.

Although I do my invoicing with a word template or via Paypal, a program like FreshBooks can make your life easier, particularly if you have lots of invoicing to do.

If a payment is late pick up the phone

When a payment is late, it’s tempting to send an email asking why or as a reminder. It’s also tempting just to re-bill. Both can work, and both also mean you’re avoiding the possibility of confrontation.

My advice is that you pick up the phone and call your client.

If it’s a long-term client, the chances are your payment just got overlooked somehow and a phone call will solve the problem.Be polite, of course, but be firm. You’re a professional and you deserve to be paid. You’re not interested in why they are late, you want to know when you can expect payment.

A phone call may also surface problems you wouldn’t find out any other way. For example, you might find the person you normally deal with is out sick, or, in the worst case, no longer works there. In either case, ask for accounts payable and begin your collection efforts with them.

How do you get paid for your freelance writing? How do you collect?

You might also want to read 5 Top Reasons (Some )Freelance Writers Get Paid Poorly and How To Fix It and 4 Ways Freelance Writers Charge Clients & Get Paid

For more help with freelance writing business issues sign up for my Freelance Writing Problem Solutions series.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer

 

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria May 15, 2014 at 4:22 am

I also make sure that I get half of the money up front. Then, when it is time for the other half, I invoice the same day, moment’s later, after sending them the work.
Victoria recently posted..The Key to Surviving as a Freelance WriterMy Profile

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annew May 15, 2014 at 6:16 am

Good for you, Victoria, on both counts.

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John Soares May 14, 2014 at 7:54 am

Great advice Anne. With established clients I usually do 50% up front and the second half upon completion. I’ve also staggered the payments by thirds or quarters throughout large projects, as you suggest.
John Soares recently posted..Four Reasons Why Freelance Writers Should SpecializeMy Profile

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annew May 14, 2014 at 10:32 am

Thanks, John.

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