Non-Paying Freelance Clients

When you work from home and rely on clients paying you for work you've done, it really bites hard when they forget to pay!

So what do you do when you're faced with a client who won't pay on time?

Although I've only been faced with two clients in the past who haven't paid, I'm currently faced with my third client who is currently 3 weeks overdue with a rather decent sum of money.

I'm grateful I have more than one client with payments on the way in - so technically the loss of that one account isn't going to hurt me financially - but it's the principle that counts. (this is where having multiple income streams really helps!)

You see, this client owes me payment for twenty-two articles (yes, that's right ... 22 articles). Nice order huh? I thought so at the time too. Considering they paid for the previous 20 I wrote for them on time I felt quite confident in researching, writing and submitting this set of articles too.

After a week with no payment I figured I'd email them and remind them of my outstanding invoice. They responded saying they'd be a couple more days as they'd had problems with payment systems at their end.

When payment had reached two weeks overdue, I sent another polite email to the client requesting payment. This time there was no response at all.

Thinking maybe my email had gotten lost in cyber-space, I emailed again the next day. Again there was no response.

Getting a little worried, I jumped onto the client's forum and found several writers complaining of non-payment. More than worried, I did a Google search and found several other complaints of the same thing.


Before I was a freelance writer I was a banker. While I was working there I learned that banks are a business - just as a freelance writer is a business. A bank will happily charge a default penalty fee to clients for any overdue accounts - just as I do with my infrequent late-paying freelance clients!

I've now emailed my invoice to the clients again, along with a friendly reminder that the account is still outstanding and I've added a late penalty fee to the total they owe me. I've also added a gentle hint that the account will be sent to a collection agency if funds are not forthcoming within 5 working days.

Personally, I think the client is gone - with my articles! - but you can't blame me for trying.

From now on, before accepting any more assignments from clients I'll be sure to dig around on Google for any information at all!



Ed said...

Could you lodge a complaint with the FTC? I think I know who you are talking about, and I think they ran off with the money.

Bianca Raven said...

Hi Ed,

I've emailed the company in question an 'overdue statement' along with a defaulted-payment penalty fee and a warning of debt collection services for further non-payment.

They've suddenly decided they're going to pay me now ;)

I wonder if I'll ever get any more assignments from them after this?

Anonymous said...

Would you really want more assignments from people like that? That's so unprofessional. Glad you got your money though.

Bianca Raven said...

LOL! NO NO NO I don't want any more assignments from this particular company.

It's a bit of a shame because they always had loads of work - but if they don't pay their writers then there are plenty of other clients out there willing to pay well AND ON TIME for quality service. I'll work with those instead.

Freelance Writer Virginia said...

I started this website so you can complain about non-paying clients!


If you know SEO it's even more useful, hint!

Bianca Raven said...

What a great idea! A complaints site about non-paying clients.

It's very convenient I know quite a LOT about SEO. Thanks for the link. I'll be right over :)

2ThePoint said...

I'm sorry that happened to you. I've had that happen to me before, but I hadn't written nearly as much.

Do you tend to ask for a deposit before you start?

Bianca Raven said...

With private clients who contact me directly, yes I always ask for a retainer. 50% of the total amount up-front and then 50% on job completion.

The difference with this particular company is that they're a content creation site and the work was simply completed on their online interface.

I can see clearly how much they owed me and what work had been completed. They just... forgot to pay anyone who worked for them for a long time.

I won't be returning to that company. I have other work that not only pays more but pays on time!

lissie said...

I'm glad it worked out for you! The other option would be to take the articles and sell them elsewhere such as constant content!

Bianca Raven said...

Oooohhh... Lissie that's a GREAT idea. Why didn't I think of that??

I'm going to get working on that right now I think.

Thanks for the suggestion! :)