How to Get Paid on Time

If you want your writing business to succeed, there are only two things you need to do:

  1. Find clients.
  2. Get them to pay you.

I talked to a consulting client the other day. She was frustrated because she started her business with lots of customers, but she was having trouble getting paid. There are lots of reasons why people don’t pay:

They don’t have the money
They don’t have the money today
They don’t think you’re worth it
They don’t think the price is fair
They think if they don’t pay, you’ll forget about them (HA!)
So how do you get paid? Here are some tips for getting paid:

  1. Establish a process. Decide as you start your writing business how you will handle payments. Write up a payment policy. Include processes for billing and collections.
  2. Get paid up front. Ask for at least half in advance before you begin a project. Tell the person you will cheerfully refund the money if they are not satisfied. (Then do it.)
  3. Follow up. Don’t be afraid to keep after people about bills. Start out with friendly in-person (or over-the-phone) reminders. Put the reminders in writing; it’s good evidence if you have to take someone to court.
  4. Close your ears. People have all kinds of stories about why they can’t pay right now. Get your “Not My Problem” mantra going. Business is business, and if someone contracts for your services, they need to settle up and pay.
  5. Develop the relationship. If you have a great relationship with a client, it will be difficult for them to tell you they won’t or can’t pay. Sometimes this backfires, if the client tries to use the relationship to wheedle you into accepting less or later. But most of the time a good relationship encourages people to pay.
  6. Know when to quit. Accept the fact that some people won’t pay, no matter what you do. Cut your losses, quit working for that person, and don’t look back. There are good paying people out there who would be happy to pay for your services. Keep looking for them.