How to Get Paid

Georgina Laidlaw
Georgina Laidlaw

It sounds so easy, but getting paid can feel like pulling teeth sometimes. These are the basics — the essentials — of getting paid the amount you invoiced, on time, every time.

1. Outline your payment terms in the project estimate

Show clients you’re serious about invoicing from the get-go. List your payment terms in your estimate, including:
  1. when you’ll invoice
  2. whether you’ll invoice in advance or in arrears
  3. how long they’ll have to pay
  4. the payment method/s you prefer
When your contact approves the estimate, ask them if they’re comfortable with the invoicing terms, and whether they have any questions. If they have their own weird processes or requirements, this will give them a golden opportunity to let you know about them.

2. Invoice when you say you will

If you say you’ll invoice at the start of each month, do it. Put the time aside, and send those invoices. Send them independently of other communications: make your invoicing email (or letter) about invoicing only. With each one, invite your client to contact you if they have any questions. Communicate your openness to discussing your invoices, and your clients will feel more comfortable if, in fact, they do have questions.

3. Check receipt of your invoice

If you don’t hear back within a few days of sending your invoice, follow up with your contact to make sure they received it. Don’t neglect this step: just do it.

4. Watch for payment

Whether you’re paid by bank cheque or electronic transfer, keep an eye out for the payment. If you’ve completed steps 1 to 3, you should be paid, and paid on time, in every case. Hooray! But if for some reason you don’t receive payment by the due date, contact your client as soon as that date has passed. As in, on the next working day. This shows that you don’t take matters of remuneration lightly. If the client is expected to pay more invoices in future, your diligence will encourage them to pay promptly from here on in.

5. Follow up overdue payments

Don’t get nervous: just send a polite email to the client. Reattach your invoice, state that it’s overdue, and, most important of all, ask when you can expect to receive the payment. Don’t neglect that last point: ask when you will receive payment. Don’t be ambiguous about it. Make it clear that you feel this is an important aspect of your working relationship by being up-front about it. Don’t send this as a PS to an email about another matter, where it might be overlooked. And of course, don’t complete any more work for this client until payment is made.

6. Follow up further

If you still don’t receive payment, it’s time to turn things up a notch. Call the client to ask personally about the invoice. Consider a collections firm if need be.

Invoicing don’ts

  1. Don’t continue to work for a client who hasn’t paid you.
  2. Don’t be sweet, charming, lovely, or not-really-that-worried in your invoicing emails. Just be yourself: a freelancer who’s delivered, and now needs to be remunerated.
  3. Don’t leave follow-up emails open to interpretation. If you’re following up an overdue invoice, don’t just say, “Hey Bob, just wondering about that last invoice. If you could get back to me, that’d be great.” What in heck does that mean? Whatever it is, it sounds ignorable to me!
  4. Don’t fail to make it clear how important the payment is to you, no matter how small it may be.
  5. Don’t think anger our outrage will get you paid. It won’t. Professionalism is what gets you paid.
What tips can you add from your experience getting — or not
getting — paid by clients? Image by stock.xchng user gabriel77.

Frequently Asked Questions about Getting Paid for Writing

How can I ensure that I get paid for my writing?

To ensure that you get paid for your writing, it’s crucial to establish clear terms and conditions before you start working on a project. This includes setting a payment rate, defining the scope of work, and agreeing on a payment schedule. It’s also important to have a written contract or agreement that outlines these terms. Additionally, consider using a payment platform that offers protection for freelancers, such as PayPal or Escrow.

What are some websites that pay writers?

There are numerous websites that pay writers for their work. Some of these include SitePoint, Medium, and One More Cup of Coffee. These platforms offer various opportunities for writers, from blog posts and articles to technical writing and tutorials. The pay rate varies depending on the platform and the complexity of the work.

How can I negotiate a higher pay rate for my writing?

Negotiating a higher pay rate for your writing involves demonstrating the value you bring to the table. This could be your expertise in a particular subject, your writing skills, or your ability to deliver high-quality work on time. It’s also important to research market rates for writing services and to be confident in asking for what you believe your work is worth.

How can I improve my writing skills to earn more?

Improving your writing skills involves continuous learning and practice. Consider taking writing courses, attending workshops, or reading books on writing. It’s also helpful to read widely in your area of interest to understand the style and tone that resonate with the audience. Additionally, seeking feedback on your work can provide valuable insights for improvement.

What are some common challenges in getting paid for writing and how can I overcome them?

Some common challenges in getting paid for writing include late payments, low pay rates, and scope creep (when the project expands beyond the original agreement). To overcome these challenges, establish clear terms and conditions upfront, negotiate a fair pay rate, and be firm in managing the scope of work. It’s also beneficial to maintain a professional relationship with clients and to communicate effectively throughout the project.

How can I build a portfolio to attract higher-paying writing jobs?

Building a portfolio involves showcasing your best work. This could be pieces you’ve written for clients or personal projects. It’s important to include a variety of work that demonstrates your writing skills and areas of expertise. Additionally, consider including testimonials or reviews from clients to add credibility to your portfolio.

Can I make a living from writing?

Yes, it’s possible to make a living from writing. However, it requires dedication, skill, and the ability to market yourself effectively. It’s also important to diversify your income streams, such as writing for different platforms or offering additional services like editing or consulting.

How can I find writing jobs?

You can find writing jobs on freelance platforms, job boards, and writing-specific websites. Networking can also be a valuable way to find opportunities. Consider joining writing groups or forums, attending industry events, or reaching out to potential clients directly.

How can I deal with rejection in writing?

Dealing with rejection is part of the writing process. It’s important to not take it personally and to use it as an opportunity to learn and improve. Consider asking for feedback and using it to refine your writing. Remember, every successful writer has faced rejection at some point.

How can I stay motivated as a writer?

Staying motivated as a writer involves setting realistic goals, celebrating small wins, and maintaining a regular writing routine. It’s also helpful to connect with other writers for support and inspiration. Remember, writing is a journey, and every step brings you closer to your goals.