Getting Paid

Full-time technical writers will usually receive a regular pay check, but things are a little more complicated for those who decide to go freelance. Here are some basic tips and tools to help ensure you'll get your money each and every time:

Get it in writing: Preferably, you should have a contract that outlines the terms of payment (how much, when you will be paid, how you will be paid, etc.) for every project you complete. If this isn't possible or the project is quite small, be sure to at least get an email stating this information. Beware of working deals out over the phone. If you should have trouble getting paid later on, you won't have any written record to support your case.

Send invoices promptly: If a client doesn't specify when an invoice for work completed should be sent, it's usually easiest to submit it immediately after you finish the project. Waiting for them to ask you for an invoice may not be a great idea. Editors and managers are busy people, and it's quite possible your invoice may simply slip their mind. Other companies like to receive invoices at specific times (every Friday, the last day of the month, etc.). Make your client's job easier (and your invoices easier to find) by sending them on the exact date requested.

Offer convenient payment methods: Your clients will appreciate it if you offer a number of payment methods in order to make things more convenient for them. Many companies are now using Paypal, but you may also choose to accept checks and wire transfers as well.

Follow-up: If your payment is a few days late, don't hesitate to follow up with your client. Be polite, remind them of the invoice you sent, and attach another copy in case the original got lost. Hopefully it is just a simple oversight on their part and they will issue payment promptly. If you don't get paid, continue to follow up. Sending additional weekly follow-ups is often recommended. If you don't get a response or your money after three or four follow-ups (invoices are usually considered past due after 30 days have elapsed) you may have to take further action. There are writers' websites that will contact clients about non-payment, or you could hire a collection agency or a lawyer if the amount outstanding is significant. The important thing is to be persistent and make every effort to collect the money you are owed.

Last Updated: 05/05/2014