Payment is Late: When Should You Worry?

For the first time in years, the first few days of the month have gone by without payment from any of my clients. Normally at least one client can be counted on to pay on the first day of the month, the rest will come within the first week. It’s been a long time since a client tried to rip me off, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t worry. Still, I’m not in the habit of contacting my clients on the second day of the month if payment isn’t received. Before you start panicking and sending around "hey I’m being ripped off" emails, consider the following:

If You work for a Big Network You’re Safe

If you work for a large, high profile network, do you really think they’re going to rip you off? Consider this: If the most prestigious blogging network in the world hasn’t paid you yet, do you think they want the world knowing or do you feel it’s in their best interests to keep you happy? The last thing they want is for the press or other bloggers to think they’re deadbeats. Of course they’re going to pay you. Every now and then there’s a rare occasion when payment is late.I can only count one such occasion in the year I’ve been working for networks and it wasn’t late by much. Networks have money. They’re not in the business of ripping off their bloggers. Before you start emailing everyone in the network, talk to your editor. There’s probably already a note of explanation on the way.

What Does Your Contract Say?

Though you might be paid on the first of the month, your contract might state you’re to be paid within the first two weeks or fifteen days of the month. Your client or network doesn’t have to pay you on a specific date, though it’s a nice courtesy. Read your contract, if it says you’ll be paid within the first week of the month, wait until that week is up before you start sending out the emails or making the phone calls.

When to Bug Your Individual Clients

Individual clients are different, especially ones you just started working with. First check the terms of your contract and wait until the promised payment time has passed. If your agreement says you’ll be paid within the first of the month, wait a day or two after and send a nice note of inquiry. If it’s a trusted client, I usually give it a week or two past due before I start to get a bit nudgy.

Instant Gratification

When I freelanced for print, I received payments months after my piece was published. The web has made us spoiled because of the instant gratification of immediate publication and payment. Still, it’s best to be reasonable. Your client has no intention of stiffing you and probably has a good reason for paying later than normal. Be patient, wait a few a days and send a nice note asking if there’s a problem. Keep it on good terms, as you don’t want your client to be put off by a nasty tone. I know there are ripoffs out there, but I haven’t encountered any in the blogging world.

I hope you don’t either.

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