I am a Dedicator. I spend precious time chasing a deadline when I could be watching Walking Dead instead. I ensure I'm staring at a document with eagle editing eyes rather than eating icecream in the garden...
Only to have a Buyer who decides not to pay. It's a rare occurrence but an unwelcome one for any freelancer. Not only that, but sometimes a Buyer can go completely dark on you, which is probably worse for a freelancer, as you're left like a lover with their pants down; once excited now exposed. You're also not quite sure what you did wrong to deserve the cold shoulder and an empty tip jar...
So I've investigated firsthand...
From my very first freelancing gig, I was aware of the threat of a Buyer not paying up once the project is complete. This is exactly why I work, (and I recommend EVERY FRESH FREELANCER does the same) via online freelancing profiles. There are plenty out there to choose from - such as Guru, People Per Hour (my fave so far), DigiServed and Freelancer.
The strength of working through a profile on such platforms, which are designed to make life easier for freelancers, is the security of payment. You can request 100% deposit before beginning work and the site's secure Escrow account should hold it for you. If there are any payment disputes - the professionals will get involved and help sort it.
Of course, online freelancing profiles charge fees for their service. They are marketing you after all! So don't get all self righteous, (I admit I first did) and question their gluttony. Not only are they securely protecting your deposit, but they are marketing you and providing you with a CMS system for your work. The highest online profile fees I have seen claim around 18% off your earnings, the lowest fees I have spotted claim just 3.5%.
After previously had a couple of Buyers decide not to honour their invoice or our agreement and pay up, through no fault of my own, I had the pleasure of witnessing the power of the website platform I freelance through prompt the Buyer. It was a bit like watching Ron Weasley try to cast a spell with his broken wand after smashing into that violent tree... So I decided to be proactive, keeping my professionalism and politeness at the helm.
Tackle it proactively
I jumped onto the Buyers' social media. DM or Tweet or Facebook or name and wave at them in the bluntest way possible. That gets their attention, mainly because they realise it catches the attention of their thousands of Followers too. This is of course the natural step after trying to email and phone personally, only to receive no response. I strongly recommend not getting all Leeroy Jenkins over any unpaid invoices, as 99% of the time you will regret going in gun-ho!
After publicly contacting the deserters, I soon received, although very belated, my payment from the Buyers who went AWOL. They were also apologetic, kind as can be and truly cooperative. The whole relationship became very confusing for me so I just kept smiling and taking notes for my future in freelancing.
More importantly, it was a massive learning curve and a teeny little reminder to keep my wits about me in this dangerous, cut-throat world of content strategy we're living in.
For some companies, it's as if smartly arranged words are only just starting to exist. Like beautiful, engaging, snappy literature hasn't been surrounding us all along.