Since leaving the agency world 12 years ago, I’ve enjoyed consulting on some great projects for several C-suite executives and associations. Many of those projects required extra arms and legs so I’ve enlisted freelancers who have done amazing work.
Most freelancers tell me not to worry about paying them until the client pays me. Initially, that made sense until I realized how slow some clients pay for products and services. One large agency made it clear that payments would come 90 days after completion of the work, and one of those actually took 120 days from project completion to payment.
Thankfully, several clients send payments within a week to 10 days after receiving an invoice. Guess which clients get priority attention for future assignments?
Adam Ritchie, principal of award-winning agency Adam Ritchie Brand Direction, makes payment of freelancers a top priority.
“One thing I’ve learned in 16 years as a business owner: if you want to retain the best freelance talent and keep them psyched about working with you, pay your freelancers right away,” Adam recommends. “When they send you an invoice, drop whatever you’re doing and pay it. Pay them even before your own client pays you. It’s such a simple, easy thing to do, yet so rare that you’ll probably be the only one who does this for them, and practically guarantees they’ll always be available when you need them.”
Adam said pre-billing clients is a simple billing technique that allows him to make prompt payments.
Adam’s advice to those organizations relying on freelancers: “If your freelancer is doing the work and invoicing you at the end of the month with a net 30, they’re actually extending 60 days’ worth of credit to you. No freelancer or small business should have to extend more than 30 days of credit at a time.”
“The fact that my agency has a policy of pre-billing our clients on the first of the month with payment due by the end of the month means we’re only extending 30 days’ worth of credit to our own clients at a time,” Adam explained. “This puts us in a position to pay our freelancers immediately when their invoice arrives. We’re unbending on that pre-billed net 30. Because we ensure fair payment terms for ourselves, we’re able to guarantee fair payment terms for everyone who works for us.”
Clients who have full-time jobs with regular pay checks especially need to understand the cash-flow needs of most freelancers who make them and their organizations look good. Pay them promptly.