I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages but have only just got around to doing so. It’s something I’ve mentioned many times on Twitter or in my Facebook group but I wanted to sit down and write a proper post about everything payment related-and specifically what to do if you’ve not been paid.
When should you expect to be paid?
Blogging is a funny old business as we do all the work before the post goes live. Therefore, it’s frustrating that we’re often waiting for payment when the post is doing its thing and getting traffic and engagement! Sometimes a company will specify payment conditions upfront but otherwise, you can revert back to the government who state: Unless you agree on a payment date, the customer must pay you within 30 days of getting your invoice or the goods or service.
By ‘agreement;, that’s not to say you can just pop ‘please pay within 48 hours/7 days’ at the bottom of your invoice and expect them to honour it. A lot of us might give that a try, but putting something in an invoice doesn’t make it contractual!
BUT if you’ve outlined this clearly BEFORE beginning the work as your terms (and the brand has agreed to your terms in an email-which effectively acts as a contract) then you’ve every right to expect to receive it sooner. For example, when I do blog outreach I usually ask for payment in three equal stages (upfront, after first five blog posts and at the end) and I make this clear in a contract I ask the company to sign before I get going.
However, if you’ve outlined no such terms (and I won’t usually for regular blogging and freelancing) not to worry; whether you’ve mentioned it on your invoice or not you are still covered by the 30-day rule. But remember this is from invoicing, not just posting the blog post.
When should I send an invoice?
Firstly, make sure you send the invoice promptly as your ‘clock’ won’t start until you do. So, even if you’ve not heard back, send the invoice over anyway. Personally, I would raise the invoice or ask for information on invoicing as soon as the work is complete. If you feel awkward about bringing up payment (you shouldn’t!) then I sometimes ask the following questions when sending a published link…
- Do I need a PO number (purchase order) for the invoice?
- Do let me know who the invoice needs to be made out to?
- Is there anything else you need before I invoice?
The reason I do this is sometimes there are other systems in place than just sending an invoice. Some companies will need specific information or it will be rejected by their accounts. Other times you need to be set up as a new trader and they’ll send you a separate form to fill in. Sometimes a company is self-billing-I have not come across this in the blogging world but it is common when writing for publications-this means they automatically generate an invoice and send you a receipt once it’s paid; so you don’t need to do anything.
I’ve sent an invoice but still haven’t been paid! Help!
Firstly, you need to wait 30 days unless you’ve got it in writing by them you’ll be paid sooner. If that’s you, the next thing I would do is either…
a)Send a follow-up email; making it clear the invoice is now outside/soon to be outside the 30-day window.
b) Preferably, call them directly and ask to speak to their accounting department. This will be much easier if it’s a big PR company you’re working with; you should be able to call the switchboard and ask for accounts. That way you can check up on the progress without having to directly deal with the PR/company you’ve been dealing with. If it’s a smaller company, you’ll need to pick up the phone and speak directly- a bit more nerve-wracking but it helps!
If that’s still not worked, it’s time to follow the government legalisations. After 30 days, you have the right to charge a late payment fee. This is 8% of the fee for each day your invoice is late (you don’t count the first thirty days) and a one-off debt reclaiming fee of £40 (more if what’s owed is over £1000). Again, you don’t need to have mentioned this in your invoice to claim it.
The next step is to put this in writing and give them a deadline. Make it clear if payment is not received by this date; you will in line with government law-resend an invoice with the additional payment of 8% interest and £40. (More on calculating this on the government site here.)
I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been at this point a few times and I’ve NEVER (massively touching wood here) not ended up getting paid. I say this to reassure you that there are not tons of businesses out there trying to rip you off, but what usually happens is someone’s gone on holiday, the invoice is missing something and has been rejected (with no one thinking to tell you) or it’s just completely slipped through the net. It’s annoying and frustrating and unfortunately, I’ve had to send several emails regarding late payments but I’ve never got to the point of still receiving nothing.
If, after following all these steps, you’re still not getting anywhere; I would consider archiving the post; potentially considering whether it might be reworked as something else or even for another sponsor down the line. If it’s a sum that you think is worth pursuing via small claims court, I am not an expert in this but there is plenty of help available. The government site explains how to make a court claim.
t’s frustrating and I think it’s definitely worth warning other bloggers about it (but perhaps in closed groups rather than social media!). I hope this post helped! Let me know!
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