Acquiring new clients, getting a steady stream of work, and staying on top of your finances are some of the most important skills every freelance writer needs to master. Unfortunately, more often than not, getting paid or paid on time can become a freelancer’s biggest problem. You’ve completed your part of the bargain, yet you’re still waiting for the payment.
According to a Freelancers Union survey, about half of the participants reported problems with getting paid. The study, cited by fastcompany.com, also revealed that are owned over $10,000 in unpaid invoices and spend approximately 36 hours chasing missing payments.
Without a doubt, companies need to be held accountable for paying freelancers on time, every time. However, there are still some essential steps you can take to protect yourself from deceptive clients and get paid for your freelance writing projects.
- Read the Contract Carefully
Most freelance writers don’t pay close attention to the contract and sign it after just glancing through it without understanding their right completely. And, it’s understandable – companies tend to throw seven-page contracts full of legal terms at writers when, in fact, all they care about is “how much money will make?”
If a client has yet to pay you for your work, read the contract carefully to see if the company has violated its part of the deal. Some clients have ambiguous time frames as to when you will get paid. Or, if you work with an advertising agency, the contract might specify that you won’t receive payment until the work is reviewed and approved by the company that hired the agency. In that case, there’s not much you can do to force the client to pay you.
But, if the contract mentions a specific time frame as to when you will get paid for your content writing, then the company has clearly violated their part of the deal. When this happens, you can move on to the following step.
- Provide a Kind Reminder
If a client is late with thepayment, don’t rush to threaten to sue them. Instead, a wise move is to let them know that you understand your rights, and you expect them to meet their part of the contract. The best way to do this is with a kind reminder.
Let them know that you’ve completed your obligations under the contract. Provide the specific paragraph from the agreement which forces the company to make the payment by a specific time frame.
If the client doesn’t respond to your kind reminder(s), let them know you are ready to pursue legal actions if they don’t respect their end of the contract. If the client still doesn’t respond, then it’s time to…
- Pull Out the Big Guns
There’s only so much frustration you can experience when paymentis delayed. If the amount of money the client owns you is significant, you can pull out the big guns and go to court to force them to pay you for your content writing services.
Most contracts stipulate the company is obligated to pay your lawyer’s fees if you win. Therefore, going to court can be expensive for companies, and they prefer to avoid that.
If you’ve decided to take legal actions, make sure you send your client a letter letting them know this is a final warning. Also, give them a deadline by which you expect to receive the payment, or you’ll file a lawsuit.
- Know Your Rights
When you sign a contract with a client, ensure you understand the terms you agree to. Read the contract carefully or ask a lawyer friend to help you understand the legal jargon. If you think the agreement doesn’t protect your rights, ask the client if they’ll allow you to make changes to the contract.
If the company allows you to perform changes, you might want to include the lawyer’s fees in the eventually of a lawsuit and a penalty clause that will increase the amount owned if the company continues to delay its payment.
Contracts can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Before you accept a new freelance writing project, make sure you have at least a written document covering the basics of the job – who you are, what the project is, how much will you get paid, when will you receive payment, who own the work, and so on. That way, if a client fails to pay you, you won’t be completely unprotected.