As a Freelance Journalist It is Inevitable that You Will At some Point Have to Beg for My Money
I HATE BEGGING PEOPLE FOR MY MONEY
As a freelancer, especially for several different magazines with several different means of earning income, keeping on track of your invoicing can be tricky and daunting. It's one of the worst parts of being a freelance journalist and that's begging editors to follow up on your payments.
Like every pitch, every article and every magazine, every payroll system is different which puts you at a great disadvantage.
As I said in an earlier post, Assignments letters look different in 2021 and so do means of payment. Here's are my tried and true pieces of ADVICE to newbies in the freelance game. Things that I wish someone would have told me when I got started as a freelancer.
Tip #1: Create your own invoice.
Put your name and social security of EIN# on the top of it and send it out to every single editor that you write for. Create a business folder in Google docs to keep track of all of your invoices. Here's an example:
Tip #2: Talk about money UPFRONT.
Most editors will send an email or require that you sign up for a certain system to confirm that you have been given an assignment to write. This "assignment" letter or email will include a Deadline and Payment. Once you get that payment number. Your next question to your editor is "How Will I Get Paid?" If you pose that question early in the process, it makes everything afterwards more easy. This can be one of the hardest parts of this process because when you're getting started, you're just happy to be getting work and getting paid to write. Which can be awesome but the key part of that sentence is "GETTING PAID", which leads to my next tip.
Tip #3: Open a Cash App, Vemo, PayPal, Zelle and link it to a Direct Deposit Bank Account to an Account that is strictly for Funds Intact.
This will save you in the long run. Open a bank account for $50 bucks and have that as your freelance bank account. Access your routing and bank account number because you'll be asked to fill out the direct deposit form when you send an invoice. Have it up and ready on your desktop or Google folders to easy access. Keep in mind, most of these finance apps charge a small fee for you to access your money and they all have to be linked to an actual bank account. Direct Deposit goes directly into your account ALL of it.
Tip #4: Respect the Net-30 day process.
Most publications ask that you wait 30 days to get paid for an article after it has been posted. This sucks I know. But it is normal practice for the publishing industry, Some great publications pay you in 14 days but that's rare. The average will make you wait 60 days so be prepared and have several sources of income coming in so that you have money always being added to this account.
Tip #5: Where applicable of course, Hire a professional.
Hire a Subcontractor, someone else or utilize another financial professional or website to send invoices as well as reminders. Asking for money sucks but asking for money over and over from people that you MIGHT want to work with again can suck even more. That's why I hired a monthly accountant. Mine is called Marilyn and I pay her $300 a month to create my monthly spreadsheets (for that PPP money, grants and loans, etc) and she also handles all of my invoices and invoice follow up. There's always invoice follow up.
Tip #6: Stop Writing after the 2nd article if you haven't gotten paid.
This is another hard one especially for freelancers that are seeing their names in Bylines and sharing those Bylines with friends and family. But 30 days, then 30 and God-forbid 90 days have gone by and you haven't gotten paid. STOP writing for that editor. Editor are there to make sure their engines run smoothly which means that they are essential to helping freelance writers get their money. Good editors know this and should be a great resource to you so get your editor involved.
I hope these tips help you to get paid. If not, I'm open for some strong-arming an editor for a freelancer because no one wants to work for an editor that doesn't pay their writers. No one.