Post Academic

Transfer Your Skills: Kneecapping 101

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on March 22, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension So you wanna make some extra cash by freelancing? Then you need to make sure you get paid. Academics are not known for being aggressive, so you’ll need to know how to handle it if your client isn’t paying your invoice.

Understand the invoice process before you take a job. In many freelance gigs, you’ll submit an invoice, and the client will cut you a check after a certain period of time. To avoid glitches, ask for details on the process. Does the client want you to fill out a specific invoice template? What is the turnaround time for payment? 10 days? 30 days? If that’s too long, you might not want to take the job.

Be polite … at first. If you don’t get a check by the time you and the client set beforehand, call. Keep it short and sweet. “Hi. My check is late. Can you follow up on its status?” Don’t blame them—at least not right away. There may be a legitimate reason why your check hasn’t arrived, such as a paperwork glitch.

Withhold work. If the client gives you the runaround three times, and they are a regular client of yours, inform them politely that you do not work for free, and you have other clients who pay on time.

Consider kneecapping. At one of my first hamster world jobs, a few prestigious clients were actually deadbeats, and it fell upon the office manager to collect. She was not the kind of gal I’d invite to go out for lunch, but she had a gift for verbal kneecapping. While on a call, the tone of her voice turned to steel, and it was terrifying. You can’t curse or yell, but you can make your displeasure crystal clear by adjusting your tone.

Get the editor on your side. A company hadn’t paid me for freelance copyediting services. I was pals with the editor and put in a few phone calls. The editor wanted me to get paid, but he wasn’t the one who cut the checks. The editor was a burly man, and he reported back to me that he went to the owner’s office and hovered over him in an imposing fashion until the owner wrote out the check. I received it in a matter of days.

Stage a sit-in. You can also do what my dad did once when he had a job that involved collecting money. He went to the office of the person who owed him, sat down in the office, and refused to leave until he got paid. Dad says it worked.

Alas, this is what you need to do to get paid sometimes. Freelancing calls for a strong stomach, but keep in mind that most of your clients are upstanding individuals who follow through on their promises.

Image of invoice from Wikimedia Commons, from Gveret Tered under a Creative Commons license.

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