According to data from the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, one of the challenges freelance writers face is with getting paid on time. Around 3.4% of freelancers face this problem.
There are often a lot of issues that could delay or even prevent your getting paid by a client; it could be due to unforeseen circumstances in the live of the client, a client who really doesn’t take things seriously or due to the fact that a client never really intended to pay you.
Here are a few ways to ensure you get paid faster as a freelance writer:
1. Follow the 50/50 Rule
According to data from Wikipedia, the 50/50 rule “means 50% credit is earned when an element of work is started, and the remaining 50% is earned upon completion.”
It’s exactly what it says; upon reaching a mutual agreement, a client pays you 50% of the amount you plan to charge for service you’re rendering before you start based on an agreement that you’ll receive the remaining 50% upon completion of your work.
There are many variations to this rule depending on your level of trust with your client and how quickly you need money as well as how many clients you currently have; in some cases, if you have a high level of trust with your client, you might be able to get paid in full before you start. You could get paid 75% with an agreement to receive the balance upon work completion or you could agree to get paid 25% before you start while you receive the balance once your work is completed.
You could adjust this rule as much as you can; so it could be 10/90 or 40/60 or 80/20 or whatever you could get your client to agree to depending on the level of trust you’ve achieved with this client. Either ways, the idea is simple; if you could get a client to pay a significant portion of the amount you’re working for before you start working, it’ll be much more easier to collect the remaining payment and you won’t be affected in the case of a delay.
2. Follow a Payment Plan
Similar to the 50/50 rule or its variations, another way to get paid faster is to follow a payment plan.
In other words, agree with your client to pay you on intervals for work you do; it could be every 5 days or every 10 days or twice a month or whatever duration you feel comfortable with.
In most cases, as long as you reach an agreement with your client and are fulfilling your part in doing your work, there shouldn’t be issues.
An advantage to this is that, as long as progress is being made, most clients will be willing to pay since the work is yet to be complete and it might be delayed if they delay payment; also, after a particular client has made payment 3 – 4 times before work is complete, making an additional final payment won’t be difficult.
3. Get Your Client to Pay You via ACH
Another way to ensure you get paid quickly is by asking your client to pay you via ACH.
Most freelancers only get paid via Paypal and bank transfer and a major disadvantage to getting paid through these channels is that it is difficult to schedule payment in advance; with ACH payments, especially if you’re on a monthly retainer with your client, your payment could be scheduled in advance so that payment gets through to you with little to no action from your client.
4. Find the Person that is in Charge of Paying You
It’s not always your “client” that you know that is in charge of paying you, and sometimes she has so many people to manage that it might be difficult getting to your issue right away.
Yeah, it sucks but that’s how it works sometimes.
If your client has to forward your payment request to person A, who finally forwards it to person B that will pay you, how much time will you save if you could get in touch with person B directly?
Knowing exactly who pays you and agreeing with your client to get in touch with that person directly to avoid issues will save you a lot of trouble.
5. Know the Procedure
How do you get paid? Do you just send an email to your client and everything is handled or do you have to send an invoice before you get paid?
Make sure you know the procedure for paying you so as to save yourself time and effort.
If it takes 24 hours to reply to your email, sending an email that you’re ready to be paid will eventually result in, at least, a 48 hours delayed in you getting paid; 24 hours for your client to get back to your email where you ask to be paid, in which she asks you to send an invoice, and an additional 24 hours for actually getting to your invoice. This becomes prolonged if there are other issues.
You can save a lot more time by sending an invoice directly instead.
The invoice example used above is just an example but there are probably other procedures for you depending on who you work with; you don’t have to ask for permission to be paid, so make sure you take the necessary steps in advance.
If you want to send a notification that you’ll be paid, send it before you complete your work to prepare your client; this way, there won’t be surprises or delays.
6. Have a Fine for Late Payment
Make sure it is clearly spelled out in your agreement with your client and also make sure it is significant enough to get your client’s attention.
If your client has to pay just $5 or $20 if there’s a 30-day delay in paying $2,000 for work you do, she would be just fine. Instead, if she has to pay 10% for a 30-day delay and 5% for every additional 10-day delay, she’ll be happy to pay quickly.
7. Follow Up
It can be simple, yet powerful.
Your client is probably stressed out or has a lot on her plate; if she manages a lot of people, perhaps they all want to be paid at this time. It’s easier for her to miss your email or to even think she has attended to it.
Send a simple and polite email asking if she got your email and tell her that you’ll appreciate early payment; if you have a late payment policy in place, politely let her know that you wouldn’t want her to be subjected to your late fees.
What other tips do you have for getting paid on time? Which of the above tips is your favorite?