As a freelance writer, you're in business for yourself. A major part of offering your writing services is getting paid for those services. This doesn't just happen -- you need a process in place to invoice your clients and to ensure that you're paid promptly.
In short, you need to be your own Accounts Receivable department.
Here's to get paid promptly.
1. Your Contract Should Say It All
Your contract doesn't need to be extensive. It can be shorter than a page; in fact it SHOULD be shorter than a page. Pages of legalese won't get you paid, people just won't read them. Include just the salient points.
Salient points include: the copyright in your work remains with you until you're paid in full, your retainer is paid before you start work, and payment is due on invoice. You can also add the number of revisions you are prepared to do: two revisions, provided you communicate properly with the client as you work on the project, are ample.
2. Why You Need a Retainer
A retainer is essential. It separates the tyre-kickers and time-wasters from genuine clients. You have no idea whether somebody is genuine or not until they actually pay you a retainer.
Big tip: check out clients on Google before you work with them.
3. Your Part of the Deal: Keep Deadlines
Make it your personal policy that you always keep deadlines. No exceptions. This immediately puts you ahead of 95 per cent of writers who look on a deadline as the day they should start work rather than the day they should complete it.
4. Slow Payer? Stay in Touch Until You're Paid
Some of your clients will pay you slowly. There are many reasons for this, and none need to concern you. You should have an invoicing program which offers a tickler function and shows you when payments from clients are due: invoice promptly, and send statements to follow up on invoices.
If you don't have an invoicing program, create a file called Accounts Receivable, and keep it up-to-date. All of your contracts should include the words "payment is due on invoice".
If you're not paid within 48 hours of an invoice, send a reminder. Send weekly reminders after that. Be completely dispassionate about this, there's no need to get yourself worked up over it: be polite and professional at all times. If you invoice promptly and follow up properly, you'll never have deadbeat clients.
Want more information to help you to make money as a freelance writer? Read the Fab Freelance Writing Blog.
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