Being a freelancer can be great. You can pursue your passions, set your own schedule, and work with interesting people.
However, working as a freelancer also means that your monthly income can vary drastically and you often rely on the responsiveness of others to complete a project – two serious tradeoffs that you should consider beforehand Quit your full-time job To do contract work around the clock.
The 2019 Freelance in America A survey by the Freelancers Union and Upwork found that approximately 57 million people were identified as freelancers in 2019 and that cumulatively, they grossed $ 1 trillion, or 5% of the country’s GDP.
Given that freelancers made up 35% of the country’s workforce last year, getting paid on time might not be a problem for most of them, but it doesn’t.
Freelancers suffer from the need to keep track of payments owed to them. Many freelancers report being “ghostly” with a release, meaning the contractor never responded and never sent the payment. Others say it takes months to receive payments for 200 to thousands of dollars.
Yolanda Evans, who has been a freelance journalist for 14 years, writes primarily about travel and culture from her home base in Ireland.
Earlier this year, Evans was hired by a well-known pop culture digital outlet for a piece about growing up with parents of color for Black History Month. Although she sent an invoice with her draft, the point of sale did not pay for it.
“After emailing the editors that they hadn’t been paid, they first said they’d never got the right thing [payment] Information from me, ”said Evans. “I knew that was wrong because my information is always on my bill. After sending her the correct information, I never heard from her again. “
After Evans nearly gave up getting the $ 200 she owed, Evans was eventually put in touch with someone on the publication who helped advance her call for payment. Months after the play was submitted, Evans was finally paid.
What to Do When Your Freelance Clients Are Not Paying
Almost every freelancer has a story like this. Unfortunately, you will likely have to chase a check at some point. However, you do have a few tools at your disposal. Here’s what you can do to encourage your freelance clients to pay you on time.
1. Sign a contract
Even if you work for your best friend, sign a contract. A contract that describes the scope of work (i.e. subject, length, deadline, etc.), your tariff or fee, and how and when you will be paid is vital.
Contracts are legally binding documents that give both the employer and the contractor an incentive to do their part of the business. A treaty also prevents “he said she said” disputes down the line.
Contracts don’t have to be fancy or drafted by a lawyer. As long as the contract includes the details of the assignment, the tariff, a payment method and the deadline, you will
Finally, make sure that both parties actually sign and date the document – it’s only valid if this happens!
2. Know your contact person
Understand who you are working with from the start. For journalists, that’s probably an editor. For a consultant, it can be a project manager. For a graphic designer, it can be a creative director.
If you are hired by a freelance service provider or third party website, don’t hesitate to ask who to contact if you have any questions or problems.
It’s also important to understand that the primary contact person may not be the person directly responsible for completing the payment. In many cases, there can be delays in the customer’s finance department.
“The challenge for many freelancers is that the way many seats are paid for is based on both an editorial calendar and the structure of the company’s finance department,” said Kelly O’Mara, editor-in-chief of Triathlete. “We get billed and then have to go through the editing process, then pass the invoices to the finance department, and then the finance department pays the freelancer.”
In some cases, you might just be a number in a very large payment system.
“Sometimes in large organizations there is a completely separate department from the customer’s department that is responsible for getting you paid,” O’Mara said. “You may have a login to an account that you’re submitting your bill to, and then a team on the backend is responsible for making sure you get a check or a direct deposit.”
As a takeaway, it’s important to know who to contact if you have a payment problem, as your contact may have little or no ability to speed up the process. Keeping a cool head during all referral talks can help ease tension on both sides.
3. Stand up for yourself
It may feel pushy or aggressive, especially if you are new to the freelance industry, but advocating for what is rightfully yours is perfectly acceptable.
“The day after I owe payment and I’m not paid … I send emails to people,” Evans said.
Evans said she emailed the editor she worked with six or seven times before successfully getting what she was owed.
Don’t be afraid of persistent pursuit of payments. If the customer is grilling a few days after receiving the cash, get in touch with your contact.
“A lot of people are not going to push for their money,” said Evans. “Go for the money that’s yours.”
A good rule of thumb is to check in on your payment once a week – just often enough to keep track of things, but not so much that you burden the customer. However, when things stagnate, there are a few legal options of last resort to consider.
4. The law is on your side
Most of us don’t want to face legal action, but sometimes it either is or you miss a payment that you may have been relying on.
This is where the aforementioned treaty will be crucial.
“Independent contractors, by default, retain all copyright in all materials they create. If a publication is not paid for according to the contract, you are violating the contract that gives a customer the right to use your work, ”said the company lawyer and entrepreneur Rachel Brenke.
When you’ve exhausted your options, you have one final choice: take your client to small claims court.
The Small Claims Court is reserved for premiums, which are typically $ 10,000 or less (although each state has its own maximum). For more information, see your state’s Justice Department website. There you will find all the forms necessary to start the process.
Note, however, that minor claims cases can take months or even years to resolve. This should only be viewed as a last resort.
While you want to keep your legal rights in your back pocket just in case, opt for friendly, non-threatening email whenever possible. Ultimately, most publications and customers want you to get paid fairly and on time. Give them the opportunity to follow and save the legal discussion for worse situations.
Kristin Jenny is an employee of The Penny Hoarder.
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com