How Freelancers Can Put Their Feet Down

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Every contract worker and freelancer can reel off horror stories about clients who don't pay on time. Landlords and grocery stores don't accept delayed payments because "there's a new accounting system that's messing things up," but freelancers can wait weeks, if not months, to reap the rewards of their labor. That's not even counting the unpaid hours spent trying to chase down and shake loose your contractually obligated paycheck.

The self-employed are putting their collective foot down. More and more, freelancers are sharing tips for ensuring your own deliverables make it to your bank account. Writer Tyra Seldon provides a great summary of her incremental payment process at the Freelancers Union blog. In short: Give a little, get a little. Agreeing to wait until you've done all your work to get paid necessarily means surrendering control over the payment timeline.

Or, as talent manager Bolu Bello put it on Twitter:

It's good to share resources that work for you (e.g., here are some great tips for setting your own rates). That may lead some to wonder why freelancers can't follow the lead of their W-2-endowed colleagues, many of whom are pushing for unions to collectively bargain with management. Unfortunately, things aren't that simple: In fact, the Department of Justice would consider such an action price-fixing by a cartel, since gig economy workers are still considered independent contractors and small businesses in themselves. (The Freelancers Union primarily focuses on health insurance and lobbying efforts, rather than organizing.)

Don't let that stop you from negotiating, though. There's no rational reason to accept a long-delayed payment, and you can set up systems that ensure you won't have to.