One of the things that people don’t tell you about running your own business, is how much time you can sometimes spend chasing down money that’s owed to you. It’s just part of the job sometimes and it sucks. Ideally, you want to set yourself up for success from the beginning so that this DOESN’T happen. But there are sometimes instances that pop up where you don’t get paid, your contact went missing or the brand refuses to pay you. So what do you do? How can you make sure you get paid on time?
First, let’s chat about how you can set yourself up on your end to reduce the likelihood of this happening. Here are some important things to have set up for our business to prevent nonpayment or even delayed payments from happening.
What To Do When You Haven’t Been Paid
Have A Contract
Let’s first set ourselves up for success. Every partnership, no matter how big or small, even gifting partnerships, should have a contract. Period. A contract legally holds everyone accountable. And this is the number one thing to prevent this from happening in the first place. You can check out our contract template in The Library if you’re a member!
Contracts should include a pay schedule and also a late payment clause. Never agree to a partnership of any kind without a signed contract.
You can also have a lawyer draft a formal contract for you. We love the pre-made contract from Contracts For Creatives*.
Send An Invoice + W9
By sending an invoice and W9 right away, it allows the brand to begin processing payment. Make sure your invoice has a clear payment date and any payment terms.
We love to use Wave Apps or Quickbooks for creating our invoices. It allows you to add an option to pay by credit card or by ACH. Sure it takes out a small fee, but you’ll likely get paid faster if this is an option. And it may reduce the risk of not getting paid in general.
Set Yourself A Reminder
Put on your calendar one week before payment is due to follow up with the brand to ensure they have everything they need to process your payment. Sometimes things slip people’s minds and they just need a friendly reminder. Maybe they need you to fill out a form that they didn’t send at first. Setting a reminder will keep you on top of your invoices and top of mind for people who owe you money.
Now that you’ve done everything on your part to make sure you do get paid, there’s still the off chance that a brand may just not want to pay you. Or totally forget. What do you do?
Follow up persistently. Give yourself 1-2 weeks to follow up and get an update if you can. Sometimes it’s just being the squeaky wheel that will get you paid. If this doesn’t work, move on to Step Two.
CALL THEM! Pick up the phone and give them a call. This will likely get a fire under their butts. When you call, be sure to ask if there’s someone in accounts payable who you can reach out to. This is the person in the organization who is responsible for paying any invoices to vendors. Be consistent and follow up multiple times when you are not getting a response. You can even head to LinkedIn to reach out to someone demanding an update if things continue.
If you’re still not getting a response from your contact and also accounts payable, you will need to send a payment demand letter. This letter is designed to be a final notice that payment is due before taking legal action. You can easily Google sample payment demand letters to get an idea of what should be included. Or you can always work with a lawyer to help create this. This letter will usually escalate the situation and hopefully get you paid finally.
What To Do If Nothing Works?
What to do if none of these things work to get paid? You may want to reach out to a lawyer to discuss your options. But oftentimes, it’s not worth the legal fees. Suck it up, learn from it and move on. We’ve all been there and it happens, so ensure you have systems in place to prevent this from happening in the future. And as always, work with reputable brands and agencies who respect the blogging industry.