There are benefits to working as a freelance writer: For instance, I’m working on Florida’s Gulf Coast when a severe snowstorm wreaks havoc in my hometown. One of the many advantages of working for oneself is the flexibility to work from anywhere. I choose the clients I work with, the types of writing, SEO, and social media projects I want to complete, and I determine my rate. There are no punch cards, lengthy commutes in congested areas, expensive business clothes, poor weather, expensive petrol, or others watching you while you work.
Tips for Managing Payment Issues as a Freelance Writer
As a freelance writer, you have the freedom to work from anywhere and the flexibility to choose your clients and projects. However, there are also challenges, including the risk of not being paid for your work. Here are some tips to help you avoid and manage payment issues:
Collect Customer Information in Advance
To avoid payment problems, in advance, collect your customer’s contact information, including phone number or Skype ID. This way, you can contact them quickly if there are any payment issues.
Research Your Clients
Just as customers vet freelancers, you should also vet clients. Google the name of the company or individual and ask for references. Search websites such as ripoffreport.com, SFWA.org, pred-ed.com, and writersweekly.com, as well as forums like DigitalPoint and WarriorForum, to see if there are any non-payment complaints.
Ask for a Deposit or Milestone Payments
To protect yourself, consider asking for a deposit or requesting milestone payments for long-term projects. This minimizes your liability; if the client stops paying, you can stop working.
Offer Early Payment Discounts or Late Payment Penalties
Offering discounts to customers who pay early or on time can help maintain cash flow. Similarly, late payment penalties can help expedite payments.
Keep copies of all documentation of work to be performed. Only delete emails once the job is done and paid in full. Keep them indefinitely in folders for added security. Such documentation can be invaluable if you need to take legal action.
Send Payment Reminders
Send a thank you email for the item and a friendly “reminder” that you have not received payment. Sometimes, clients forget. Politely ask if there is an issue with payment and try to resolve it amicably.
If your client doesn’t respond to your emails or phone calls, it’s time to take things to the next level. Explain to your client in writing and via voicemail that copyrights are transferred upon payment. Try sending a small note from a collection agency or consider mediation.
If your client ignores your payment requests, it’s time to get serious. Consider firing the client and retaining the copyright in the works until the client pays. You can also report them on websites like WritersWeekly.com, Warrior Forum, SFWA.org, and other sites where writers contribute.
Freelancing as a writer has advantages but also comes with the risk of non-payment. Following the above tips can help minimize your risk and manage payment issues professionally and assertively.