Christine A Howard

A Guide To Navigating The #1 Problem For Freelance Writers

If you are a freelance writer, then you will undoubtedly be familiar with arguably the biggest obstacle people working in the industry face: payment. The existence of this issue is rather odd though. In every other aspect of life, the process of acquiring services is very simple. A client requests a service, the service is performed, an invoice is issued, and then payment is made. Yet for reasons no one has ever quite been able to identify, freelance writers tend to struggle to complete this transaction. The industry is infamous for making freelancers have to chase payments that, by rights, should be issued automatically,  Because of this, many people are forced to leave the industry due to the payment-related issues they experience.  Mom bloggers cannot afford to be waiting on payments.  So here are some ways to navigate the #1 problem for freelance writers.  

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Why does this happen?

It has been suggested that the reason people hire freelance writers and then fail to pay for the work is due to a global disregard for writing. This issue has been worsened by the internet.  It has even caused many writers to devalue their own work just to stay competitive in terms of prices.  I know that I have personally been offered only pennies for my work, and know of other mom bloggers who have experienced the same.  

It is also worth considering the fact that we mom bloggers are sort of an easy target.  We tend to be more nurturing, so asking for payment can seem pushy to us.  This can help a prospective client ignore a payment request from. Freelance writers tend to operate solo and quite often without a lot of business experience.  Clients know that they will be highly unlikely to experience a legal challenge if they ignore an invoice. This is obviously unfair, and it puts freelance writers at a disadvantage.  Some work-from-home moms actually end up quitting in the first few years out of frustration.  We certainly don’t want that to be you!

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How can you protect yourself?

There are a number of different ways to protect yourself from the payment nightmare. The first is to ask for a deposit upon agreeing work.  You can use the likes of BlueSnap payment gateway to process the payment directly on your own site for simplicity and convenience. It is usually best to keep your deposit request low.  A good rule of thumb is to ask for 20% up front. Anything more than that can be off-putting for first-time clients. Twenty percent at least ensures you should be able to cover some of your costs for the project.  It also serves as a helpful indicator that the client does view the process as a financial transaction.  You definitely want to be seen as a legitimate business to gain the respect of your clients.  Asking for a deposit helps you to gain that respect.  

However, many clients will refuse to make deposits. In this case, you have two choices.  You can walk away, or you can proceed on a payment-upon-completion arrangement. Truthfully, neither is ideal.  First you are turning away a client that may well have paid, and with the second option you are risking not being paid at all.

If you decide to accept pay-upon-completion, then you will need to have a plan of action in place if they default. To do this, you will first need to ensure that a contract is signed for the project.  Asking for a contract is just good business, so don’t feel pushy for asking.  Most of the time, your clients will expect this, and they may even respect you more.  Besides, having a contract will be vital if your client does default.  Then at least you have a leg to stand on if it does need to go to litigation.  

Enforce Your Policies

Once you do put some policies in place to ensure you get paid promptly, you will need to enforce them.  By enforcing a deposit policy and ensuring you have a contract for all work you complete, you will protect your at-home-business from potential failure.  You will also have a solid plan for when clients don’t pay up the first time. Don’t forget!  Even with the best of polices, you may need to pursue legal action to obtain what you are owed.  This can be expensive, but if the costs are not prohibitive, it is well worth considering.  You did the work, and you deserve to be paid for it. 

navigating the #1 problem for freelance writers.

By enforcing your policies, you will gain respect within the business community and clients will be less likely to try and take advantage.  You will become great at navigating the #1 problem for freelance writers.

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