Hi, Barbie. Is there such a thing as being too persistent about asking when and how I'm going to get paid for my writing? I'm being polite on the phone and everything, but I've called a couple of times (the timeline I was told about was off and I haven't been paid for weeks after I was told I would be) and I'm afraid of damaging the relationship with this company. Am I just being paranoid?
Hey there! Thanks for the question. I didn’t anticipate how my nickname on here would be Barbie, but I’m unreasonably pleased about it, so score one to me. Onto the question:
There isn’t such a thing as being too persistent when it comes to getting paid – within reason.
If you’re messaging them every hour when the payment is only 24 hours overdo, that’s unreasonable.
If you’re messaging them every day when the payment is only a week overdo, you’re pushing it a little bit. If you know the company and trust them, give them a little leeway and don’t risk calling them cheats. If your working relationship with the client is brand new, then every other day is reasonable, but mix it up with excuses such as, “I’m afraid the site/email program has been glitchy. Have you received my most recent message?” Or, “I just want to confirm that you’ve received my payment request. If not, I can resend it.” This will get the attention of any reputable client.
When they’re weeks overdo? Enter Professional Terminator mode. The Terminator does not curse people out, it does not accuse them of things, it does not insult. It walks in, it makes its intentions clear with no sugar coating, and it gets what it wants.
If the company you’re working with is WEEKS overdo and isn’t giving you any updates on when the payment will be made, any reasonable explanation on why its delayed, and especially if they’ve cut contact altogether – they are not a good company. Don’t worry about hurting your relationship. Get your payment in Terminator fashion, and then run. If you can’t get payment, then put them on a blacklist, and then run.
On that note:
- Make a Blacklist.
No matter how careful, professional, or experienced you are, if you do freelance, you will get stiffed on the bill by at least one client. Over several years of the job, you’ll get stiffed by at least a dozen. It happens. People suck.
But don’t ever forget it. Create a (black)list of their name, contact information, the project done, and what they stiffed you on (be it a payment or even a review). There may come a day when they crawl back and you’ve forgotten either them or the incident. You then unknowingly take up business with them again only to get stiffed a second time. Fool me once and all that.
With a blacklist, you can reference it to make sure that doesn’t happen. As a plus, if the new offer they make sounds good, you think they’ve improved, or there are new safeguards to protect you, you can demand the original payment (or review) you were stiffed on before you begin working with them. Then it all comes full circle.
One other point: As a freelancer, you’re rarely ever paranoid. You want to make money and get clients, so that irrational voice that usually exists is shut up by the rent being paid. If you are ‘paranoid,’ it’s your experience and skill as a professional giving you a warning.
If you get a weird vibe about a client’s voice, the way they compose an email, or the style of brief they give you, listen to that vibe and go in with eyes wide open. It could be the signal you need to put extra safeguards in place to make sure you don’t get scammed.
You are a professional, skilled and talented. That’s why people hire you. So trust yourself as much as they trust you – you know what you’re doing. Listen to your instincts.