Monday, January 22, 2007

Dealing With Non-Paying Clients

As freelance writers, we run the risk everytime we take on a project that we might not get paid. These deadbeat editors run through every excuse in the book as to why they can't pay us, and usually, they're full of baloney. Thankfully, I've only had to deal with a client who didn't pay one time... unfortunately, I never saw any money from the deal, he ignored my repeated e-mails and IM's, and that was that.

The following article details some useful information into getting editors/clients to pay up - I only wish I'd known about these tactics when I was going through my situation! If you have any other tips for getting a client to pay the money you are owed, please leave them in the comments.

Getting an Editor to Pay


At 2:26 PM, Blogger Ryan Healy said...

With new clients, I always get paid 100% up front. That way I don't have to become a collection agent down the line. With repeat clients, I offer 50/50. I haven't had trouble with repeat clients.

In fact, I had a new client get upset this week because I was holding up the copy. Why did I do this? I hadn't received the check yet. I told her she'd get the copy as soon as the check arrived. I also pointed out that my policy was stated clearly in my invoice.

I guess every case is unique. If you can, get paid up front. It saves a lot of wasted time and effort.

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Denise said...

Thanks for the comment, Ryan :)

I generally take a 50% deposit up front with the remainder due upon completion. If anyone balks, I don't work with them. It's simply not worth the time and effort if you aren't sure you're going to see a return on your investment.

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Nicky's World Productions said...

Cheated by Client Story

The work done for this project may be seen at
I was hired for a straightforward case of web design; this person approved of the work; she discussed ongoing maintenance and requested that I upload the site and supplied the account info in order for me to do so. The agreement to maintain the site was made on my part only in exchange for the unused disk space on the server, and free of charge; basically an act of good will and the best intentions on my part; she also requested to pay half at that point, half after upload; here is when things got interesting. Although my policy is work first, pay later, upload last; on the assumption that I would be maintaining the site I foolishly thought I could trust the her.

This person never paid half first but I went ahead and uploaded the site. Agh. A few days later she informed me that the site was "funky" and had reverted seemingly by itself to its previous state, which was a generic template that she had made using the template builder provided with the web host. Hmm. This time she made a $50 payment, which was 1/2 of the 'half first' or 1/4 of the total payment; requesting me to again upload the site, and informing of the new password to the account, which had inexplicably been changed. Ok-? In an effort to be helpful I stated the obvious in asking this person whether she had used the template builder, which still had the old copy of the template stored, which the client denied as if being accused of something.

It was only a few days later when no further payment or instructions appeared from the client that I realized what was happening. Ms. Menage had waited for me to upload the site, then promptly changed the password to shut me out. The client then stupidly attempted to use the template builder to modify the new website, inadvertently reinstating the old one by mistake. I sent a two-page email, which went unanswered, patiently explaining the differences between the template
editor and alternative means to edit the site, something I had contacted her about two weeks earlier, requesting to set a time when we could put our heads together to implement a customized solution; a request that also had gone unanswered. I then wrote another two emails over the course of two days patiently explaining my position in our agreement, all the things I had done and were willing to do for the benefit of her website, and explaining that the agreed upon fee for the site was more than $50.

After a few days this person responded. This time I had apparently crossed the line and been irrevocably disrespectful in some way with my 'smart comments'; and no further pay would be forthcoming. Two separate conversations are presented below.

Sadly, it is apparent that THIS CLIENT NEVER INTENDED TO PAY ME. It is unfortunate that so many take advantage of the internet's open market system to cheat and connive their way through the system. Thank you for taking the time to listen.

On 2/17/08, I wrote: (this is a small part of a 2-page letter)
Okay. Please don't confuse content management with that Globuild template builder they have got up on there. Templates are very limited in that they can only allow you to change pictures and stuff around within the look and style of a premade layout.
--------------------------------- (etc.) -------------------------
Because this is kind of starting to drag on and it seems we haven't been communicating very well and time has been getting wasted. I have been trying to do everything you wanted me to do but when I asked you a couple of weeks ago if we could set up a time to hook you up with the content management you never got back to me; then last week you

On 2/17/08, Tanisha Clayton wrote: (apparently replying to a
completely different conversation)
> no. Any what else is new with this?

On 2/17/08, I wrote:
What part of what I said are you saying no to? I don't know what else is new with this because I don't know what you are expecting me to do.

On 2/19/08, Tanisha Clayton wrote:
I dont even remember what this email was about. What's with the bad attitude? I spoke with Danielle and she says that you are very rude.

On 2/18/08, I wrote:
> Please complete payment for the site this week. You have my ongoing full support for minor issues such as technical problems with Globat, in addition to the number of pages in the Cover section, ad placement, and anything else relating to content management; in exchange for the extra space on the server I will be here to continuously support and update the site. But this is dragging on for too long and I really don't know what more you expect from me. Please don't dole out payments at me $50 at a time like that. This is a business and I am worth more than that.

On 2/19/08, Tanisha Clayton wrote:
I know that and I really don't need all the smart comments. For all that you can keep the $50 and take down the site. you and I both know why I asked to only pay $50 and further you saw for your self that something was funky with the site. Now that it's up I have no problem paying the remainder balance. The problem that I have is the smart attitude further irritating me is the fact that I just got my email up and running only to see emails like the one below.

And my "rude" email to her referral, Danielle:
What changes will you be wanting to make on a monthly basis? I assume you said something about having monthly specials on there so we can do that. I can start by suggesting that we put your slideshow from your myspace page on to your brands page, instead of having "To view current collections click here" link to your myspace page - that seems kinda unprofessional. Also having "for map and directions click here" link to Msn Live Maps is pretty sad especially since it is only showing a map of the entire western half of the U.S. on my computer when I click on it. I really hope you didn't have to pay your previous webmaster to create this for you.


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