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A Writing Client Goes Missing or Why I Insist on an Advance

advanceAn advance for a portion of the fee, or even all if it, protects you against flaky clients and those who have no intention of paying you. I was reminded of this last week.

I answered an ad on LinkedIn for someone who wanted some blogging done for a project that sounded interesting to me. A few days later the advertiser connected me and asked to set up a phone call, which we did. We talked and had some nice rapport, plus I really liked the project.

As so often happens he didn’t have all his ducks in a row, but said he would send me the additional material I’d need to understand what he was trying to do, the link to a video, and a couple of sample articles he thought hit the right note. I agreed to give him a written proposal once I had looked everything over. I asked him how many other writers he was talking to and he said ‘several.’ So I asked where, at the moment, I ranked, and he replied “I really like what I’m hearing from you – I think I’d place you at the top of my list.”

It started to get strange

Then things started to get strange. I had to remind him through LinkedIn that he hadn’t sent the materials – he apologized and sent them pretty quickly. I put together a proposal for 12 blogs that would happen over the next three weeks – unusual, but he was making a trip that included stopping where he had contacts and ended at a conference. The proposal also included a short email blast following each one and posting on social media. And the proposal included an advance, as mine always do.

He said, again still through LinkedIn that he liked my proposal and offered considerably less. I asked him if he wanted me to do the email blasts, and social media posts in addition to the blog at his price. He asked for another phone call. When we talked he explained had decided he only wanted the blog posts which put his price within my range and I agreed. He also reduced the advance, which also seemed fair. I explained I wouldn’t start working until I got the advance and that to meet his deadlines we needed to get started the following Monday. He agreed and I gave him my PayPal address. We set an appointment to get me the information for the first two or three blogs. He also wanted all our communication through LinkedIn which still puzzles me.

The next step payment of my advance.

The advance never came

The advance never arrived. Nor did he keep his appointment.

The first time I asked him what was up he apologized and said he’d get right on it and we should speak the next day.

No advance and no phone call.

I quite worrying about it. A full 10 days after all this he did message me through LinkedIn that he had hired an intern!

I don’t know why potential clients feel it’s okay to leave a potential writer or other service provider hanging with no explanation. It happens. When the advance didn’t arrive I knew it was  unlikely the gig would come to pass.

If he had sent the advance I would have worked hard to produce the first two or three blog posts on time. If he didn’t pay any more I would have stopped writing.

The whole thing was a bit disconcerting, but I wasn’t surprised. Not really. When I client starts behaving oddly, as he did by not sending the material and not keeping appointments, the chances are the whole deal will fall through. I think insisting on an advance tends to keep clients honest.

Do you always insist on an advance? Why or why not?

Write well and often,

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Blergh. Bookmarking this for future reference. I need to remember to add this to my finance information, along with “don’t write for exposure.” 😛

    • Yeah, imo writing for exposure is a ripoff for the writer. I guess I should do a post on that! Thanks for the idea.

  • Linda, this is such a helpful post. Keep them coming! Your advice is definitely helpful.

  • Scott Rose

    The jerk should be named and shamed.

    • lol, Scott, I thought about it… but I never have won a flame war or looked good by shaming someone else.

  • Good article, and right on point. Always get an advance or don’t start the work. And stop immediately if they stop paying. I even put a “kill fee”now into my contracts claiming the deposit in case they disappear mid-project.

    • Thanks Linda, and maybe I should add a kill fee to my contacts including the advance…

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