Freelance Copywriters: 4 Simple Ways to Make Sure You Get Paid

Image courtesy of Anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being a freelance copywriter is a great way to make a decent income.  A lot of people choose this line of work because it allows them to make their own hours and they get to determine how much money they make each week or even each day. However, and this is a big “however,” in the world of freelancing, particularly online, you’ll need to know how to protect yourself from being taken advantage of.  This is because there are any number of scams out there, not to mention, dishonest people who may try to get you to work on projects, meanwhile they have no intention of paying you.

Newbie or not, I’m quite sure you’ve read other freelancers’ rants about difficulties in getting paid from problem clients.  You may have even had one or two of these challenging situations yourself.

You’ll need to make sure that you always protect yourself so that you have a nice, steady income and a great experience as a freelance copywriter.

Fortunately, there are measures you can take to keep folks from cheating you. If you apply the following tips you’ll have a much greater chance of assuring that your fees are protected and that you are not scammed out of your money.

 

1. Find Out About Your Client Before You Meet

 

Look the prospect up before you agree to work with them and before you discuss the assignment with them.  Your findings may help you develop more pointed questions that will serve to safeguard you and your fees in the end.

There are countless, simple ways to research a client, but be creative in your search for information on them. A few quick ways to do a makeshift, but effective “background” check are as follows:

  1. If  this client finds you in an online forum, make sure that you check their feedback score (if any).
  2. If this client finds you on an online staffing platform (e.g., Elance.com), check out the comments made by previous contractors. Make sure there are no  listed problems with that client. Also make sure that you check into the feedback that your potential client has left.  If they show a history of leaving a bunch of negative comments, be wary of that client. It may signify that he or she is impossible to please.
  3. Enter the client’s email address in a popular search engine and scan the results. If that email has ever been associated with a scam, it may be listed in your search results.
  4. Take twenty or thirty minutes to plug their name or their website URL in The Better Business Bureau’s website, and look them up on Yelp, Angie’s List, SiteJabber, TripAdvisor and the like.

 

2. Protect Yourself By Using Written Contracts

 

Another great tip to staying safe and making sure you get the money you earned is to always use a contract. Using a contract/written agreement/quotation agreement can help assure you are paid upon completion of your work. If you do not have a contract, you will not be well-protected and you’ll undermine any leverage you otherwise would have had.

If the client gives you a hard time about signing the contract or starts “nickling and diming” you on more than one provision in the agreement, this may be a sign that there will be more issues and stress ahead. It’s probably best to not work with that person.

 

3. Get a Down-Payment Before You Start the Job

 

Making sure that you are getting paid is key when doing freelance copywriting work or any type of freelance work. Many writers require that clients leave an initial deposit, and you should too. This deposit assures the client that you will provide the copywriting work, and it helps to assure you that the client will pay for the work. The deposit you require should reflect the amount of work you will be doing. For larger jobs you will need to require a larger deposit and for smaller jobs you can require less.  Having the deposit will help to ease your fears about not being paid and will help to develop a trusting relationship between you and the client.

 

4. Make It Simple for Clients to Pay for Your Services

 

When Mr. Pain-in-the-A says, “I only have a debit card,” you want to be able to say, “That’s fine. I take wire transfers, and there will be a fee of $___ dollars for that transaction.”

If Ms. Bothersome says, “I can only pay by credit card,” you want to be able to say, “That’s fine. I have Intuit or Paypal, so you are more than welcome to pay by credit card.”

Of course, in order to do this, you’ll have to set these program up.  Luckily, these payment services are user-friendly, and there’s always customer service (with real live agents) available to help you if you have a problem. Today, many, if not most, banks offer merchant services for small business owners (including freelancers). These services allow us to accept a whole host of credit, debit, wire and mobile payment methods the same way the larger establishments do.

 

Conclusion

 

Set and hold to milestones when you are working on someone’s project, especially if it’s a multi-tiered one. Always send a sample to the client before you begin so that you can make sure he or she is satisfied with your work.  Stay in constant contact with the client and confirm that you understand his or her wants by repeating it back to them and getting that nod, preferably the electronic nod – via EMAIL.   The more you and the client are in synch, the more promising your experience is likely to be.

If you do end up with a problem client you will at first need to be patient. In the beginning, if you cannot work things out, it is advised that you cancel the job with the client before things get too complicated. If you have already turned in work, try your best to work with the client and see what you can do to improve the work or meet his or her needs by some other mutually satisfactory means.

Your business as a freelance copywriter can be greatly protected by these simple steps. Remember to follow your instincts, and if a job or a client does not feel right, move on to another job.  Require a contract and make sure that you get a deposit before beginning the job. Lastly, create that “paper” trail. If you’re a straight shooter, it’s always to your personal and legal advantage to have a paper trail, even if it’s email only.  Sometimes a financial dispute can very easily be resolved by reminding and showing your client that on X date, you did Y, just as she requested in her email.

 

 

About the Author:Stacey Mathis is founder and president of Stacey Mathis Copywriting.  Get more from Stacey on Twitter and Linkedin.com.

Be Sociable, Share!

14 thoughts on “Freelance Copywriters: 4 Simple Ways to Make Sure You Get Paid

  1. Pingback: Stacey Mathis Copywriting Small business marketing and copywriting services tips for the freelance copywriter Instantly Make a Custom Contract for Your Freelance Business – At No Cost To You

  2. Pingback: Stacey Mathis Copywriting Small business marketing and copywriting services tips for the freelance copywriter Freelance copywriting rates - getting paid what you deserve

  3. Pingback: Stacey Mathis Copywriting Small business marketing and copywriting services tips for the freelance copywriter 7 Common Mistakes New Freelance Copywriters Make that Could Cost Them Business

  4. Pingback: Stacey Mathis Copywriting Small business marketing and copywriting services tips for the freelance copywriter Start Your Freelance Copywriting Life Off Right

  5. Melanie

    Invaluable tips on making sure we freelance writers get paid on time. In the beginning, I did not insist on being paid part of the money up front. I thought this may scare off some potential clients. It was one of the biggest mistakes I made. When several clients starting hemming and hawing about paying up at the end, it became a struggle to collect and maintain a positive reputation with people who were essentially holding good reviews hostage. Every freelancer writer should read this post and take heed.

    Reply
  6. Stacey Mathis Post author

    Thank you, Melanie. I was a bit uncomfortable initially too. Money can be such a touchy subject. And you’re right about the issue of trying to get paid and maintaining a positive reputation. This is why it’s so important to be a consummate professional, be reliable and provide top-notch work product 100% of the time, even to pro bono clients. This way if your reputation is ever an issue, you’ve got a great track record to refute that person’s badmouthing.

    Reply
  7. James Foco

    I don’t do any work without a deposit. I’ve only had one or two clients in 10 years who ever had a problem with this.

    Reply
  8. Doris Bailey

    Great article Stacey. Tip #1 which could alert you of potential problem clients is good for anyone looking for their first client or additional clients.
    Tip #3 is good business practice for just about any industry.
    One thing I’ve learned from experienced copywriter, Nick Usborne is how important it is to separate your personal self from your business self. Copywriting is a business and you need to have confidence in your worth and your ability to help your client increase his bottom line. When you believe that you are worthy of your fees, you will have no problem implementing any of these tips and sticking to it.

    Reply
  9. Stacey Mathis Post author

    Thank you, Doris.

    Re: Tip #1 – I had a client whose “background” check would have raised all kinds of red flags, but I was blinded by all her prominent business connections so I failed to conduct one. My lesson was to still dig a little deeper, despite appearances.

    Re: Tip #3 – I also think clients take you a bit more seriously when you request a deposit; it sets a necessary tone for the business relationship.

    Reply
  10. RobP

    Your first point to find out about the client before you begin the work is stellar. Not only can you get a feel for whether they are professional and more apt to pay on time, but you can discover nuances of their topic or personal voice or expectations that may be useful in actually crafting the copy. You might be able to find out if they will be a difficult client or not, and choose to pass them by.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Stacey Mathis Copywriting Small business marketing and copywriting services tips for the freelance copywriter Five Fail-Proof Tips to Give Your Small Business an Edge

  12. Pingback: Stacey Mathis Copywriting Small business marketing and copywriting services tips for the freelance copywriter Five Fail-Proof Tips to Give Your Small Business Startup an Edge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *