Imagine this: You spend a day’s time researching the topic and finding contact information for interviews. You sit at a desk for a couple of hours coming up with interview questions and arranging to talk to contacts. The interviews take place over several hours, not all at once but spread out over a couple days time. Finally, it’s time to write the article. That alone takes up a decent amount of hours, editing including. You send off the polished piece. A few months later, there it is in print, but no check arrives. Weeks turn into months and no pay. Calls and emails go either unanswered or filled with excuses. All the time? Wasted.
Freelancers, no matter what it is they do, clients stiff us constantly. Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union, is spreading the word about and fighting against deadbeat clients. Using the hashtag #GetPaidNotPlayed, freelancers are sharing their stories and tips. Today the World’s Longest Invoice launched at 9:30 a.m. Freelancers can post how much money they were to receive for a job. The total as of 2 p.m. EST is $3,705,233. The site hasn’t been up for 12 hours yet. The invoice will help back the Payment Protection Act in New York.
That number is, unfortunately, not surprising. The amount some people miss per job is astounding.
I added something to the list. The amount wasn’t much, but it counts. I created an article for one website. The man in charge claimed that he would process my payment “next Friday.” Countless emails and excuses later, I still haven’t received payment. I don’t expect it to arrive.
To those who stiff freelancers, think about your own job. Imagine not receiving payment whatever it is you do. Bills add up. Freelancers need to eat, too. We have homes to pay for; gas to buy. Internet fees so that we can do the work clients hire us to do need paid regularly. How would you like it if you missed pay for an entire month?
Think about that for a minute.
In addition to not paying freelancers, many underpay. Countless website boast ways to make a little extra money on the side by writing up blurbs, short articles and other types of articles. The pay is low. Some websites offer $5 for an 800-word article. Research time included, that takes more than an hour. Minimum wage is $7.25/hour. Do the math.
When these jobs are accepted, it tells the industry that it’s okay to under pay writers. Making an extra $100 a week doing this type of short writing might seem like a harmless activity, but it’s not. Why would a company pay more for a well-written article from a professional when they can manipulate someone else into writing the same thing with less polish for 50 percent less? All it does is hurt those of us who try to do this for a living.
I will not take a freelance job without some type of contract. That doesn’t guarantee payment, unfortunately. A quick online search can tell writers if some of the websites seeking out workers is legit. I’ve avoided several duds this way. In addition, it’s vital to keep a copy of all contracts and invoices to ensure payment.
Freelancing can be a rewarding, enjoyable career, but the constant loss of funds can turn it into a nightmare. It’s a job and we deserved payment for what we do.