Freelancing is great, until you start having to chase people for money, then it's not so great. Here's some guidance on how to make the not so great, a little more tolerable.
What the fudge is this about?
The day to day experience of being your own boss (which is a a lie in itself, because when you’re self-employed – every client is your boss) tends to fluctuate between two states:
The shit, and just shit.
The former generally comprises: the creative freedom you enjoy, luxury of flexible work hours, complete isolation from other denizens of the human race (an arguable definition, if you’ve ever worked with web developers) and the general privilege/horror of having relatively absolute power over your own financial destiny.
The latter, on the other hand, is almost universally a case of money. Specifically, when you’re owed some.
It sucks. It sucks massive, hairy, crust-ridden donkey balls to have your financial security jeopardised by not being paid, regardless of whether the reasons are understandable or utter poppy cock.
While freelancing is no longer my primary source of income, it has been in previous years and remains a significant contributor. As such, I’ve found myself in this position on several occasions, so believe my experiences and approaches to resolution might be useful to people who are in a similar situation.
Each article in this feature will be based around a particular excuse, reason or general response I’ve been given for not getting paid. For the sake of empathy, I will then discuss how I felt like responding, followed by how I actually responded and what I learned from the experience that better equipped me, moving forward.
I will just highlight now, that these cases are the vast minority of my client interactions.
Likewise, these don’t include clients who are open and transparent should cash-flow problems occur (people with whom you can reach an understanding mutually agreeable solution), although I will touch on those instances towards the end.
I emphasise this simply because I’m aware of the fact that my penchant for cynicism and expressing my distastes with (attemptedly) great dramatic flair, can give the incorrect impression that such instances comprise the majority of my day to day dealings.
They do not – they just make for more entertaining and measurably useful stories.
The law is on your side
I will also prefix these articles by saying that many of the headaches involved with running your own business or working as a freelancer, can be mitigated through the use of an incredible concept, known in layman’s terms as – writing on paper.
Estimates, quotes, timesheets, terms and conditions, contracts, these are all things that take a bit of time when you’re starting out, but will save you much more in the long run because they’ll put the law on your side.
Because good guys don’t finish last – fools do
Noble as you might feel for settling on a gentleman’s agreement, verbal contract or your own trust in the human race – such things give you little, if any form of a leg upon which to stand should you find yourself facing the prospect of undertaking legal proceedings.
I did that for longer than was wise to and I never felt noble – just a tit, with no mates and rubbish shoes.
In addition to being poor, you’ll feel shameful, disappointed and an absolute failure, all feelings which belong in the bedroom – not your job.