In our personal lives, most of us wouldn’t dream of neglecting to pay the piper. From our taxi fares and restaurant bills to our credit card payments and car instalments, we wouldn’t expect our debt collectors to politely ask for payment once or twice and then give up. But far too many freelance bloggers will know that clients often dodge requests for payment. It can destroy trust and ruin any prospect of continuing what may have been a time-consuming contract to win in the first place.
If you’re new to freelance blogging and you’re yet to experience a client that won’t pay, there is something you can do to try to avoid the situation. We’ll get to that presently. But first, a word of warning. Even the most kindly and personable of clients can drag their feet when the time comes to pay for your work. Nice clients that won’t pay make life truly miserable. They will smile and joke with you while robbing you blind. It’s more common than you think. Don’t rely on other people’s good nature where your money is involved – always get things in writing.
Invoice Software (because emails aren’t foolproof)
What you need is invoice software (check out this invoice template, for example). An official invoice collates all payment information in one place and can be supplied to the client upon request. Without invoice software, you will be reliant on email communications, or worse, a verbal agreement.
An email chain is not conducive to robust business communications. Here’s why. First, a fee may be suggested. Then there may be a series of short to-and-fro messages as the client barters for a cheaper price – fishing for a bulk buy discount is common. By the time the workload and a fee is agreed, you may have exchanged as many as six or seven emails with someone who might not be responsible for processing your fee. Forwarding an email chain to the right person further down the line is not professional, and you run the risk of the person in charge of processing the payment becoming confused by the email chain.
As for verbal agreements, they aren’t worth the paper they’re written on (de-dum-tss). Invoice software is the answer. Fast. Simple. Official. Transparent. Professional.
“Dress for the job you want”…
You may be familiar with the saying “dress for the job you want”. When you’re a freelance blogger, nobody can see what you wear to work (which is probably for the best, considering 90% of your work is probably completed in monster-feet slippers and oversized comfy pyjamas).
Instead, you need to give the impression of a strong work ethic and unbeatable attention to detail through your communications. Pay attention to your website. Adopt a professional tone on the telephone (you may think you’re being friendly by chatting casually to clients, but by lowering your shield you are vulnerable to the axe when client’s need to make cuts).
Invoice software can help you to dress your business for the contracts you want to win (and keep!).