No More Mrs. Nice Gal

Wimpy from Popeye copyright E.C. Segar

I think the toughest thing about being a freelancer is that you are the last person on everyone's list of people to pay. You are running a business, you are meeting your deadlines, you are exceeding expectations...yet more often than not people treat the freelancer as if they're doing it for fun and the money is just the bonus icing on the cake. Oooo...icing.

Though my work is fun, it is also incredibly hard. I 0ften work six and seven days a week. I work on holidays. I work when I'm sick. I work because we have bills that need to be paid. The people to whom I must remit money for bills do not care to hear that I'll pay them as soon as the freelance 'check in the mail' arrives in my mailbox and clears my bank account. I'm not J Wellington Wimpy and they're not going to give me the cheeseburger unless I pay for it. My freelance work is my job. What I find fascinating is how the people who owe me money and have no trouble pressing me to meet deadlines seem to disconnect when it comes time to pay me. I wait endlessly for checks to arrive and the stress level of not knowing and still having to juggle the bills is epic.

How would they function if they had to wait indefinitely for their paychecks? How would they make their mortgage payments, pay their bills, buy food for their families? My freelance money is my salary. Just because I don't punch a time clock doesn't make my need to be paid in a timely manner any less important. Often before I get paid, I'm spending money. Money for materials, money to keep my computer online, money for shipping, money for my business email, money for my website, money, money, money, money..MONEY.

I need to be treated professionally because I act professionally. I find myself apologizing for asking to be paid. Seriously. Apologizing. Gosh, I'm sorry to bother you but can I please get paid so I can pay my mortgage now? Thanks.

What is up with that? Why should I apologize for asking to be paid? Shame on me. It's that guilt factor that the people who hire freelancers count on. Oh they're going to wait patiently, they're a freelancer, they feel weird about asking to be paid on time. We can count on let's just hang on to the money we owe them as long as we can.

Show me the money. money.

I am so friggin' tired of apologizing for asking to be paid. I'm not the only one. Most of the people I know who freelance are in the same boat. Sometimes we do the work and don't even get paid. It's so expensive to pursue the people who owe us money, we suck it up and move on. Seriously, can you imagine stealing money from a freelancer and feeling okay about that? People do, lots of people do.

I'm not sucking it up anymore, because sucking it up, quite frankly, sucks.

Snarkliy yours,


Blue Mama said...

I love this...I'm a freelancer too and it definitely has it's challenges. I hate the tax time nightmare, the lack of healthcare, the lack of security that comes with the territory.My accounts have usually paid me in a timely manner but there have been slip ups and the wait it excruciating. My job was just cut due to 'downsizing' and originally they were going to give me zero notice...for a job I've done for three years. I have countless people I have built relationships that I have to dismantle in a professional way because I am staying in this industry. So my options were to either beg them to give me more time OR wrap things up on my own dime in order to move forward with my career. I chose the former. Luckily it worked. *end rant* :)

Grace said...

wow I sent this blog post to alot of friends. I am not in this situation but know people that are waiting to get paid and nothing all these excuses but why does no one embarrass them and tell people? Well the person I am talking about has been told and is not embarrassed...sad people are like that but be firm and strong and demand payment half before and half later and draw up a small document that states payment will be at the end of service or you have the right to destroy or take it back. I dont know I just hope all of you get paid!! Bill collectors do not wait like you said....Grace xoxox

Sharon said...

Well stated. Thanks Margot! I'm saving a link to this blog to send to the sorry clients who have me at the bottom of their accounts payable list. But most important, to remind myself that I DESERVE TO BE PAID!

susan matthews said...

Amen, sister. Cash flow issues are my biggest source of stress as a freelance writer. I've stopped writing for publications/businesses that don't pay within a reasonable time frame. Better late than never does not apply when you're trying to create a workable budget. We have to insist on being treated with professional respect. Our work has real value.

Unknown said...

I resigned from a magazine columnist position after it consistently took them 100+ days to pay me. Since then, I've pursued only jobs that with put a Net 30 clause in my contracts and you know what, when you place that value on yourself whaddya know, companies in turn value you. Pass on the jobs that won't commit to pay and I promise you, others will surface!

Unknown said...

can totally relate!! i used to have my little sister on behalf of my from the "accounting department" - it worked!!!

Laurie D said...

I wrote the same thing in a blog a little while back. When I redid my resume, my freelance design career ended March 1st 2010. I got really tired of the "on spec" part of the job and went negative the last year I really tried at it. I decided to sit up and not roll over. I make what I want when I want now. To all of those companies who will be missing out- you get what you pay for. If you don't pay for it, you aren't getting it unless it directly benefits my kids or abused/neglected kids.

Becky said...

I just love that a lot of the craft magazines are paying you upon publication. That means my work has been done for 6 months to a year before I see a check if I ever see a check. I also had one magazine end up folding and all I got were letters from the bankruptcy judge. I never saw a dime.

Shai Williams said...

That has to hurt. Is there anyway to put into the contract that any balances unpaid after 30 days are subject to a late fee of 10% for every 14 days the payment isn't recieved