How to Handle Clients That Don’t Pay?

Photo by Kevin Cloutier

Sometimes freelance writers will encounter clients that don’t pay on time or at all. How many times have you encountered clients like this? It’s time to say goodbye to these clients for good and hello to solid clients that understand that you’re more than a freelance writer — you’re a business man or woman.

Freelance writers deserve respect. In order to have respect, you must respect yourself. This means saying “no” to low paying clients. Refer them to the college kid down the road who’s just starting out or someone in India charges next to nothing. There’s no reason for you to put up with clients who don’t pay you or pay your rates.

Before you agree to write for anyone now and in the future, tell them your rates and your terms. Also tell them that your rates are subject to change. This is nothing new. Read your cell phone bill if you don’t believe this. In fact, you may want to read the fine print because you’ll be surprised at what you find. You’ll see that rates are subject to change and sometimes without notice.

Being a freelance writer also means that you’re in business for yourself. Yes, you are a business owner. If you don’t think you could handle owning your own business, you may want to forgo becoming a freelance writer. Remember, you’re responsible for marketing you and your services. You’re also responsible for finding and retaining clients. Think about this before you enter the realm of freelance writing.

Here are some steps to follow if you clients aren’t paying:

  • Send another reminder invoice. Give your clients the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they got busy and just forgot. It happens — no one is perfect.
  • Make sure your clients know your terms. Do you expect payment up front? Do you expect 50% up front? Are your terms net, 30 days or net, 20 days? Make your payment terms clear.
  • Get a signed contract. Before you proceed with writing, lay out all the details in a contract. Who owns the copyrights? What are the payment terms? What are the termination terms? This way there aren’t any surprises.
  • Contact a collection agency or lawyer. Do this as a last resort; it’s up to you if you want to take it this far. Depending on the amount of money, you may choose to use a collection agency or lawyer. Sleep on it before you proceed.

Freelance writers deserve to be paid for their services. Be consider in your services and you’ll attract professional clients that will pay you on time. Start being selective about clients and forget about writing for everyone that approaches you. Take time to consider the project. Meet face-to-face with a client in order to get a better “feeling” for them. Sometimes you can’t “tune” into someone via email or phone. Be discerning and discriminating. More importantly, be a smart business owner!


How do you handle clients that don’t pay? Share.

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  1. Pingback: Freelancers “Electronically Out” Clients that Don’t Pay

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