From the FinallyFast Help Desk:
Here’s a topic that’s near and dear to the hearts of all work-at-home freelancers: actually getting paid! It seems there are always employers out there ready to slow-pay or no-pay you for independent contractor jobs. But here are a few commonsense things you can do to make sure there is plenty of green at the end of your gig.
- Go through a reputable freelance website – there are many reasons to funnel projects through a freelance website such as Guru.com or Elance.com, even if you initially get the job elsewhere. Reason #1? Escrow. The agreed-upon funds for the job are paid to a third-party prior to any work being done. That way you know the employer is actually serious about the job, has the funds, and won’t suddenly go AWOL when they have what they need from you. On the flip side, escrow protects the employer. It’s really win-win. Reason #2? Arbitration. If there is a fundamental disagreement about who owes what to whom, you’ll have a digital “paper trail” of correspondence on the site and a third party ready to find a solution. The bad news about freelance websites is that they involve membership fees or administrative fees, and often both. But that conveniently brings me to the next point…
- Add fees to your invoices – Most employers understand that you’d like to net rather than gross your bid amount. That is to say, if you bid $1000, you don’t want to end up with $910 after transaction fees, admin fees, escrow fees, and whatever else. You’re already responsible for all your own taxes; don’t get nicked by fees. Find out what your freelance website charges—including for escrow, which is often a separate fee—and have the confidence to tack on fees to your amounts.
- Establish a pay schedule – Going along with the first point, most freelance websites give you the ability to set up project agreements and milestone events, including at what point in the process you get paid, whether that’s a certain date or the delivery of a certain product/service. It’s extra work, but it sure gives your request for payment a little more juice and legitimacy. Let’s face it – freelancers have to endure the kind of slow-pay, didn’t-get-to-it-yet, went-on-vacation-for-a-month excuses that employers would never even think of trying to pull with regular employees. It’s a reality, so at least create a formal, written schedule to lessen those excuses. Plus, if you’ve used escrow, clicking the “release escrow” button is a lot easier for some smaller employers than the “release money from my bank account” button.