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This week, I tried doing the impossible — make more time show up between Monday and Friday. With several deadlines this week and early next week, I was looking at a disappearing weekend. Luckily, all but one project is completed. But there’s no rest coming. I have two more projects ramping up next week and the week after.
When we writers are busy like this, it’s easy to let the little details go untouched. Invoices that should have been paid lapse without notice, clients who wanted to get in touch “within the next few weeks” are temporarily forgotten, or marketing is shoved not just to the back burner but right off the stove.
So when you get back on track, it’s almost forgivable when a client comes off with an excuse for why the payment is late or where the delayed project went.
Almost. But not really.
While the majority of clients and companies are professional in both attitude and action, there are those few who make the job more challenging than it needs to be. If you’re newer to the freelance writing world, you might be tempted to accept excuses or even the guilt trips handed to you. That is, if you don’t know what to look for.
Any freelance writer who’s been at this a while can tell you that the excuses given are common. I’m not sure if there’s a manual out there on how to behave badly as a client, but it seems some of these people are reading from the same book.
Here are excuses you as a writer should not accept:
We didn’t like the result. If this occurs before the invoice is sent, it’s legitimate. If it occurs months and a few invoices after the final product is delivered, it’s a piss-poor excuse for not paying you. If they had legitimate gripes, they had ample time to voice them. Don’t get locked into a heated battle. Simply restate the obvious — they owe you money due upon receipt of final bill. If it’s not paid, you’ll have no option but to take legal action.
I didn’t receive your invoice. This one comes three months later after you’ve attached the final late fee to the total. Why it doesn’t fly– clearly, they received this one. I had a client once chastise me for sending the invoice via email, saying he wasn’t paying the late fee because I didn’t mail it. Funny thing, though, he managed to find the one threatening litigation….
Silence. Worse is when there’s no response whatsoever to your attempts to get an answer or payment. My advice? Send a registered letter with your final invoice attached. If they don’t pay, take legal action.
We decided to go in another direction, so we won’t be using it. Just forget the invoice. Right. Forget that you just spent hours putting together the project for them, and just negate the hours you didn’t spend with other clients. If the client changes direction, that’s not on you, and it’s certainly not a good reason to not pay you.
If we like it, we’ll pay you. How about this — if you ask me to write it, you’ll pay me. I don’t work for free, nor do I hand you targeted copy that you can then claim you don’t like. Hiring a freelance writer can’t be done in stages — the writer either does the job and gets paid or doesn’t do the job at all.
Writers, what are some of the excuses you’ve received from clients who won’t pay?