How to Head Off Late Payments

Setting up smart business practices can limit late payment disputes.

We’ve all had to fight for payment at some point, but there are some steps you can take to keep your cash flow on track and payment problems to a minimum.

Choose your clients carefully

When possible work with clients who pay on acceptance.

Do your homework. Check with other writers to assess the reputation of a new client or market before taking on an assignment. If a market has a reputation for treating writers shabbily, there’s a greater chance you’ll be treated the same way – no matter how good a writer you are. Search ASJA’s Paycheck, in which writers share their experiences with a wide range of publications.

Be alert to the warning signs that a company is in financial trouble. If a market that normally paid on acceptance suddenly switches to paying on publication, or later, they may be waiting to pay invoices until they can collect from their advertisers. And if they do go under, you may never get paid. So be alert, and don’t take on more work from a company that’s having trouble meeting its payroll.

Set clear expectations

Ask for contracts with clear payment requirements. In the absence of a contract, send a letter of agreement that outlines all aspects of assignment, including payment terms.

Do not start work until you’ve seen the contract or gotten the publication to agree to a written agreement.

If you’re working with a brand or company on content marketing assignments, consider asking for a percentage of your fee up-front. Many clients are happy to do this.

Follow up quickly

Submit invoices with your completed assignment. If payment isn’t received according to the terms of your contract, contact your editor immediately. Don’t be afraid to demand payment, and don’t wait too long to do it. Editors know professionals expect to be paid promptly.

Create a paper trail. Follow up any phone calls with emails that summarize the conversation. You can also send a certified letter.

Payment Self Help

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Sample Letter of Agreement

If your client doesn’t provide a contract, you should offer a letter of agreement.

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Copyright Self Help

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