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Monday, February 17, 2014

Writer Watch: How to Deal with Slow-Paying Clients

You have that one client that has their own way of doing things but they are consistent when it comes to handing out work.  Maybe it’s a problem or not but one thing to keep in mind is that late-paying customers can be costly.
The unwritten online rule is that payment is submitted within 24 hours of submission.  Some large publishing companies usually have a longer time or if the submission is more than a couple of full pages, the person giving the final approval may need an extra day or two.
If something was established early on (such as submit on Tuesday to receive pay on Friday) it should be respected.  While it is understandable that things like illness will happen, here are some things to take into consideration –
If dealing with a virtual client, then it is necessary to ensure that there is more than one contact at the company.  Either way, get a mailing address beforehand in case the matter needs to be resolved by a third party.  Whether they live in a rural town in the States or a large city overseas, it helps to know more than their PayPal address.
Sometimes work can fluctuate, for the good and bad.  If you get a new client with lots of work to offer, you want to offer the best service possible without difficulty from someone who pays when they feel up to it.  When an assignment ends, you really want to receive your money as soon as possible so that bills will be paid.
Think about it, when you are served food in a restaurant, you pay before leaving or before receiving food in hand.  Then there’s the other stuff like rent and credit card payments that charge when late payments are made.
Although some freelancers have a late pay policy, newbies, and others get uncomfortable with doing this.  However, you cannot push the elephant in the room into a corner, hoping it will disappear into the walls because bill collectors never do.
So it’s never too late to have a policy in place but you can do a little quality assurance with the client first to ensure that they are satisfied with service.  This is a good opportunity to tighten some areas, if needed.  Also ask what can be done to ensure timely payments if there are no existing issues.
While there is no template, some freelancers will indicate that non-payment of service will result in collections by a third party or other legal action.  Be advised that when things escalate to that level, it may be time to bid them farewell.

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