Now it’s time to get paid, but your client is delaying.
As a freelance writer, I’m sure you’ve encountered this. So, what could you do differently to prevent this in the future?
Look, you need to be paid for the work that you produce. If not, you’ve just squandered your most valuable asset: your time. With that said, there are a number of ways to ensure you always get paid.
Think of these as lessons learned over the years. You can apply these to your own freelance writing business, and minimize your chance of ever being taken advantage of.
As a quick side-note, most clients I’ve dealt with were honest, ethical people. However, there are some people out there that will try to delay, or outright defraud you, so you need to be prepared for such people.
To avoid this from happening, here is what you need to do:
Get paid upfront
This is my favorite, and the best method.
Early in your freelancer career, you may not be able to use this strategy, but you should still try. Many clients are happy to pay at least half of the fee upfront. This is actually quite common in the freelance world. If you are able to secure the entire fee upfront, then do so, but it is unlikely when you are very new.
Later in your career, you can demand a minimum payment upfront and clients will be happy to pay it. This is a great way to maintain a positive cash flow balance in your business. It is also a great incentive and good motivation for you.
Use a contract
If you are going to work for a client then make them sign a contract. The contract should state that you are to be paid for the work that you create. It should also list the deadline and the exact specification of what is going to be created. You can use this in the event that a problem arises. Have the client sign and agree to the terms before you start.
Get paid in milestones
Being paid in milestones means one thing: you don’t need to wait until you complete the entire project.
This is a very good way to create content and it ensures that you will be paid as you work. You should set up a number of milestones with the client that work toward the final deadline.
How many milestones? That depends on the length of the project.
For example, if you’re creating an eBook, you could set up four milestones, at each week of the project. If the project were 4 weeks long, then you would agree to send 25% of the eBook each week, until the eBook is complete. This is a very simple and effective way to run your business.
Agree every aspect of the project first
You need to be confident that both you and the client know and understand the details of the project. Never leave any part of the project ambiguous. You need to spend time to know that you and your client expect the same results from the project.
If you fail to have the same understanding about what the project entails, you will cause problem for yourself down the road. Never begin writing unless you are certain that everything is understood.
Use an escrow service
An escrow service is a third party that holds the money until the work is completed and signed off by the client. This is a good way to do business, as both parties trust the process. Most freelance writing websites (such as Upwork and oDesk) use an onsite escrow service, which is why they are recommended to first time freelance writers.
Even if you work privately with a new client, you are advised to use an escrow service to ensure that you will be paid. After you have worked with the client for some time, you can deal directly with PayPal or direct payment, but you should take precautions at first.
You will need to pay a small fee when using an escrow service, but the service is well worth the cost.
Use online accounts
You need to make it very easy for your clients to pay you. As such, you can use well known and trustworthy online accounts. There are many of these to choose from, but one of the most popular and widely used is PayPal. It is free for anyone to sign up to, which makes it available to all.
Whatever service you choose, ensure that your client can use it to send you money. The golden rule is to make it simple to accept money.
PayPal is the most sensible choice if you are working privately with a client. Anyone can sign up and use the service for free. There is a charge for accepting money, but think of the hassle and problems that it saves you. The small fee is far outweighed by the speed that you can receive money from all over the world. I have used PayPal for over 8 years, and always found it excellent. I consider the charges to be a business expense, and simply factor them in to my quotes and freelance fees.