I used to take pride in the fact that I have never had a freelance writing client that refused to pay. May be I was lucky, or maybe I was really good in filtering real clients from the fake ones. I was always more skeptical about clients which had no public profiles or didn’t belong to a private limited. I also made sure to ask for an initial payment before I started working on things, so that was more than enough to instil trust.
I do not appreciate non-paying clients and neither do I appreciate clients who like to hire low paying workers.
But, anyways, this post is about what to do when freelance writing clients refuse to pay, and here are some tips that I use
1. Make sure you have a non-payment clause in the contract
First of all, do not start working without a contract. That is my golden rule. In the contract, there should be a clause about delayed payment and non-payment. You should specify in what period of time the payment should be done, and what would be the interest rate if the payment is delayed. Also, non-payment terms should be mentioned, the client will have no rights over the content and he wouldn’t be allowed to use them.
2. Call them up
If they are not replying your emails, I suggest calling them up and asking. I wrote about this app called Mailtrack in my last post which lets you know when someone has read your email and isn’t replying. This way, you will know if the client is indeed trying to ignore you.
3. Drop email to an employee that is way up the chain
If you are dealing with the Editor, try contacting the manager or CEO of the company. In most of the cases, you should find their email address on the company’s website. I had a client last year, who literally blocked me after delivering the content. So, I decided to drop a mail on the email address given on the website. It turned out that the guy who hired me was actually sub-contracting the work, and the company didn’t even know about it. I sent screenshots of my chats with the guy and the company was kind enough to clear my payment within 24 hours.
4. Call them out publically
Now, I don’t like this either and this is probably one of my last resorts. But if the client refuses to mail you back even after 1-2 weeks, call them out directly on social media. I would suggest Twitter or Linkedin, since they are the most public websites.
5. File a court case?
Okay this is the final last tip and I wouldn’t recommend doing it unless you have a really big amount stuck. I have never had to come to this stage with any client, and I hope I never have to but sometimes, it just becomes necessary. In case you do have to, remember to get a mutual agreement and discuss everything over the email so you have it all in written. This can be provided as evidence in the court case.
Have you ever had a freelance writing client who refused to pay? What did you do to get paid?