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The following is a guest post from Kristin Savage.
An increasing number of people are making money with freelance writing, whether as a result of the difficulty of landing a secure job, as a side hustle to increase their budget or after quitting the classical notion of a career.
Even though freelance writing has numerous benefits because you set your working hours, it also has some drawbacks. One of the most notable drawbacks for freelance writing is difficulties with getting paid after providing the final deliverable.
So, in this article, we’re bringing you some tips to ensure that you always get paid for your writing.
1. Always Sign Written Agreements
The freelance writing world has business rules of its own, which are often similar to those in the corporate world but have peculiarities of their own.
One of these special factors is that freelancers have to ensure that they won’t be left without anything after they do the work. However, there are many scenarios of this, the primary issue being not getting paid after a finalized project. But, there is also a thing called annoying clients. There are a whole lot of clients out there that will always ask you for “a little” additional work, even though it wasn’t outlined in the initial plan when you were negotiating the work and the price.
All of these scenarios are a reason to clearly define the goals and the details of the job you’re about to do. Specifically, make sure you negotiate exactly what you will do, in what form you will deliver it, at what price, and how prepared you are for edits and tweaks.
Without strictly defined conditions, there is a chance that you will find yourself in a tricky situation where you will either have to use aggressive methods to ask for your funds or to tweak the project according to the client’s demands to infinity.
Clearly defined cooperation criteria are a path to a job well done and well paid. When you fulfill all you have promised in your agreement, your client has to pay you and – that’s that. Without an agreement, it’s not that simple.
2. Ask for Advance Payments and Milestones
Many beginner freelance writers hesitate to ask for advance payments because they think that demand will place them below some other candidates from the client’s perspective.
For beginners, from the very first contact with the client, they want to build mutual trust, so they often resort to doing the work first and asking for payment afterward. However, this approach can lead to very bad experiences and experienced freelance writers will always advise you to do the opposite.
“As a professional, you will have to set strict conditions for projects where you will ask for full payment in advance and communicate it to your potential clients. For example, you can ask for full payment upfront for projects worth over 1000 dollars and half of the payment upfront for writing projects under 1000 dollars”, says Marie Fincher, a contributing writer at TrustMyPaper.
Asking for advance payments or milestone payments is the only way to protect yourself from wasted work, but it also implies rejecting some of your potential clients. At the same time, serious clients who want to work with you will have no problem paying the full or partial amount of the project value upfront.
3. Learn Budgeting and Self-Accounting
The life of a freelance writer can be a real rollercoaster, where you land 3 new clients per day, and then get into a one-month drought period. In the freelance world, you never know when you’re going to get your next project, i.e. when someone is going to hire you (again).
This is especially hard in the very beginnings when you don’t have many reviews on freelance platforms, so clients can’t place their trust in you as easily. Regardless of that, you have to factor in that there will be a period when it’s going to be raining clients coupled with periods where you would be willing to do anything, just because of the lack of tasks.
Budgeting and financial responsibility are among the most important freelance skills, especially for those writers that have recently ventured into that business model.
In general, financial advisors recommend that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket: don’t go freelance without landing a big, solid client or without having hefty savings behind your back. In the beginning, things can develop slowly and you need the have the insurance and patience to get through these periods.
You might even have to be patient for a couple of months before you land your first clients – all the while, you have to put food on the table and pay the bills. A secure way into the freelance writing world, in this case, would be to remain in your regular position until you gather a particular number of loyal clients in the freelance world.
Even in later stages, when you have a bunch of different clients, you will have to mind where and how you spend your money because someone can cancel cooperation at any moment and leave you with a hole in your budget.
4. Screen Your Potential Clients
Before we initiate any type of business relationship with a potential client, regardless of whether it’s an individual or a company, it’s necessary to research the nature of their work and try to find reviews from other freelancers who have worked with them.
“The importance of researching your clients before you start working with them cannot be stressed enough. Find out about their reputation among suppliers, research their financial statistics and get information on whether they pay their associates on time”, says Miriam Kenneth, a writer, and reviewer at WritingJudge.
5. Compose a Bulletproof Invoice Template
If you’re serious about your freelance career, you should approach every administrative task just like a business would. That means crafting all your files and documents professionally, consulting with experts and double-checking everything that you use for operative purposes.
So, instead of wasting time on creating an invoice from scratch every time you need to charge for your services, compose a ready-made invoice that you will consistently use for all your projects. This will not only save you time but will show your clients you’re a professional who takes their work seriously.
Companies also have a much easier time paying a clear, structured and correct invoice than unprofessional, messy invoice template fill-outs that freelancers stumble upon on the web.
As a freelancer, you are your business, so you alone are in charge of making sure your invoices are paid on time.
You should always approach every new client and project with a written agreement to secure yourself from project cancellations and reworks. Also, if you want to protect yourself to a higher degree, you can ask for advance payments.
The most cost and time-effective methods of freelance invoicing are to learn self-accounting, budgeting, and to compose your invoice template that you can use on any upcoming projects. In this template, you can protect yourself from being tricked by a client (for example, define how willing you will be to provide reworks of the deliverable after the project).
About the Author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at Studicus and GrabMyEssay.