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Getting paid for freelance work

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Walter_Sobchak, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. Walter_Sobchak

    Walter_Sobchak Active Member

    I wanted to get a consensus from other freelancers here about how long is a reasonable amount of time to be paid for an assignment.

    I recently did a piece for a major metro about two months ago and still have not been compensated. I've tried to communicate with the department multiple times, and I've been assured there aren't any problems.

    Even for a first-time gig, and needing paperwork to be processed, etc. etc., this seems incredibly excessive. Am I being unreasonable, or is this a normal wait?
  2. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    They should be able to tell you what normal turnaround time is up front and they should be held to whatever they tell you. I have waited over 2 months to be paid before, but I think 4-6 weeks is more the norm.
  3. Gene Parmesan

    Gene Parmesan Member

    It really depends on the paper and the person in charge of filing the paperwork.

    When I was doing it, I knew that turnaround time during the busiest seasons (our busiest freelance seasons as well) was going to be a touch slower, so I tried to let the scribe know. And I know sometimes I was told to wait until the first of the next month for the beancounters.

    Never hesitate to call or shoot an e-mail... Sometimes people just forget. Don't be a prick about it and call every day, but an e-mail followed by a phoner a week later isn't unreasonable if you still haven't heard back.
  4. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    I have done work for an organization in the past and not been paid until three and a half months later. A colleague of mine has done the same and waited the same amount of time.

    Aforementioned colleague has since gotten another job and left the business, leaving me as the only one who has done work for that organization. I've stalled and passed on its offers since, but I know if it contacts me again, I will have interest, or some other type of accelerated schedule, worked into the agreement.
  5. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    The best scenario is 2 weeks...average is 4-6 and slow ones will take up to a couple months. If I haven't seen anything in 6 weeks, I'll get in touch to see when I should expect payment.
  6. Dave Caldwell

    Dave Caldwell New Member

    Very good. When you file, or even before, ask the editor exactly what you should do to get paid and how long the procedure usually takes. It's just a part of the game, especially these days. For example, I was just paid for a magazine piece that I filed in June, partly because I didn't realize I had to file a simple invoice with the editor. (I'd already filled out the tax forms and assumed he just filled out an invoice for me.) I received the check about 30 days after I filed the invoice, as he'd promised. If I'd asked that question when I filed, I would have received the check months earlier.
  7. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

    Funny, I'm going through a "gettin' paid" thing now. Was told when I turned in my first article that it normally takes a month. Cool. Three weeks into that, the ed sent me a "oh, yeah, even though you sent me your SSN and address info, you need to send an invoice" note. No problem. Did it that day. A month after that, ed sends me another note. "Oh, yeah, I need you to sign this stringer contract and some tax forms and then we'll get you paid." Did that the next day. Earlier this week, a month after the contract/tax forms stuff, I get another note. "I lost your invoice, could you send another?"

  8. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I can speak for magazine work. It's reasonable to expect to be paid in a month, although many will dither around longer than that. At that point, it's fair game to start with e-mails, "When can I expect my payment?" and rather than bugging an editor you dealt with, it's usually best to get the info for whoever cuts the check and deal with them. That way you don't compromise future work by being a pain in the ass to an editor who usually doesn't want to think about that stuff.

    One thing I have learned. I now have a small business that does full-service custom publishing projects. I typically take money up front for things that are going to be printed. I realize you can't do that on freelance articles. But when I do send final invoices (and this is in any contract I sign for work), I always put payment terms on the invoice. It is typically "net 30 days." At that point, if it was the in the contract, it is legally fair for me to start charging interest (although I never have, because that is a great way to lose clients).

    I very often wrote for magazines without signing contracts in advance, so I know what I am about to suggest is much easier said than done. But if you do sign any contracts in advance of doing the work, or you sign a stringer contract, it should have payment terms in there, saying the company will pay you within X days of receiving your work. Even if you don't have that contract for something you have done, when you send an invoice or even a simple e-mail that can function as any invoice, it's never a bad idea to put in payment terms, such as "net 30 days" They are probably going to ignore it, but it does make a statement that you expect to be paid in the time period just about every other business in the world does, and if they do reneg on payment, you are at least creating a paper trail demonstrating you made the effort to be paid within a reasonable time period.
  9. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Funny how the big checks always take more effort to collect. Just got off the phone with an accounts-payable rep, trying to reel in a book project check.

    For several months my best client in terms of prompt payment has been, go figure, Gannett.
  10. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    It's one thing making me crazy about freelancing. Some have been great. Some have taken forever. Some have given me the runaround to the point I'm worried about getting paid.
    No excuse, none, for not having a check in your hand within a month or so.

    Stringers I used got their checks by the 10th of the next month. That was made clear up front.
  11. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Guy I do some freelancing for and I had a to-the-point conversation of about 30 minutes going over specifics, including pay.

    Sign these, send this, submit the invoice by this date and so on. Everything was taken care of up front and it's been great.

    Establish all that prior to the work and get the names of everyone you may deal with, including "The Paymaster" in accounting and other editors. Then if you have to raise hell you'll know who to target.
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