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The client who won’t pay?

If you as a freelancer haven’t gotten paid in the time frame you were promised, here are my suggestions for getting a client to cough up the cash.

Invoice
This may seem too obvious to mention, but not everybody is john-on-the-spot about invoicing. Send the invoice when you finish work.

Watch the calendar baby
Your original agreement should specify the payment schedule. Once the due date has past, send a reminder. The British Gas company does and so should you do it as well.

Get to know the person who is responsible for accounting stuff
Usually, that’s the accounts payable associate in the accounting department. Get that person’s name and phone number, email and check on the status of your payment at least once a week once its overdue until it arrives.

It is simple, stop working!
If you hire somebody to paint your kitchen, and you don’t pay him, he won’t come back and paint your living room in the hope that the extra work will encourage you to pay up. He’ll stand on your door step and demand cash. Don’t do any more work for someone who owes you money!

Be friendly but let them know
Seek sympathy from the people who can pay your invoice.  “Jordan, I’m a freelancer and I rely on this money. When I don’t get paid, I can’t pay my bills – groceries.” – is much more effective than accusations.

31-Day Warning
If it gets to 31 days with no attempt to pay you, send a notice of your intent to turn this debt over to a collections agency. Send copies personally addressed to your editor, the accounts payable person with whom you’ve been dealing, and the company executives with whom you’ve spoken.

38-Day blast-off!
By this point, it’s probably clear you’re not going to work for this publisher/client again. Find your contract and make a copy. If your work has been published, attach a copy of it to the copy of the contract and turn the whole mess over to a collections agency. Collections agencies work on contingency, so it won’t cost you anything if they can’t collect. If they do collect, they’ll keep 25 to 30 percent of the payment. Be sure to nail that percentage down before they start working for you!

Tell your freelancing friends or publish it on internet. They need to know!

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