• Advice

Why I just killed 30-day payment terms

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

I fired an awesome client this morning. They were super fun to work with, the projects were challenging and inspiring, and they loved me as much as I loved them. It feels like I just broke up with one of my best friends—and it’s a really crappy feeling.

Why would I do such a thing? Because, as crazy as it may sound, I’m not a bank.

Client X is a pretty big creative agency. From what I know about them, cash flow is not an issue. However, they drag out payments for 60 days! SIXTY! So if I delivered work the week before Thanksgiving and invoiced them immediately, I would not get paid ‘til New Year’s Eve 2016 was a distant memory.

Frankly, that is BS.

In fact, the entire nonsensical, pay-me-within-a-reasonable-amount-of-time-pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top invoicing system that many creative service freelancers put up with needs to change.

Do you pay the plumber 30 days later? No, you pay him as soon as he’s done with his work and before he leaves your house. Same goes with your painter, electrician, mechanic, house cleaner, attorney, dentist, doctor, therapist—the list goes on. They provide a service, you pay immediately.

So why’s it different for creative freelancers? Why do we put up with the payment terms that are NOT in our favor?

I don’t know, but it’s time for it to stop.

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This summer, I finally had enough. I put a new process into place effective September 1 (yesterday—just in time for Labor Day!) that goes like this:

Project-based work:

  • Full payment is required before the final product is delivered. I send my clients a proposal, they accept it, I start the project, and the client pays for it via PayPal before I deliver the final product.
  • For any project that’s $1,000 or more, half will be required up front.
    The remaining half will be required before the final product is delivered.

Monthly blogging (you can use this model for any recurring project, really):

  • My bookkeeper sends out invoices at the end of the month that are payable upon receipt, NO exceptions.
  • Once it is paid, I can work on the next month’s blog posts.

Feel free to adopt this model – or a variation of it – for your own small business.

I am not a bank, people—and neither are you! We freelancers deliver really great, high-quality service, and we deserve to get paid immediately.

Let’s use this Labor Day as a starting point to change the way we do business. Collectively we can create a whole new way of receiving payment upfront—and Freelancer’s Union is a great place to start the trend.

Ready to end your net-30 terms? Share on social with the hashtag #NoNet30

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be freelancers, tech companies and small business owners. She is also a blogger for Groupon and You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.