Sometimes I find that the blogging world splits me in two – on one hand I loathe the attitude that blogging = free stuff and VIP treatment, but on the other hand, I know that the majority of us out there work hard on our blogs, as a hobby or a jobby, and brands/PRs/Companies take advantage or underestimate the worth of bloggers just as often as Bloggers take the proverbial.
I don’t consider myself to be a particularly successful or influential blogger, but my little hobby sometimes projects me into the realms of paid posts and sponsorship. I don’t make a job of it, nor do I do it for the money, but sometimes I will take a paid post opportunity, because if its relevant, interesting and pays, why shouldn’t I take advantage paid sometimes? Other creatives do.
That’s why I feel like I have some authority to write about a subject like not getting paid for your sponsored posts. Every paid writer will likely experience this, as unfair as it seems, and even when a client is “playing dirty” it’s useful to have a few tips for getting what was agreed.
My first tip is more of a state of mind. It’s to know your worth. You might not feel like your blog, website or publication is worth anything, but if you continually put in the effort to keep it ticking over with great content then it is. You might not be Zoe Suggs, but the moment you accept a paid post opportunity, you are a professional writer. You should behave like one and you should expect to be treated like one.
My second tip is to have a contract. This isn’t the same as an invoice, which you should also provide. Your contract basically sets out what you will do for the client in terms of their brief and what they’ll pay/provide you for it, how and in what timescale. Be as specific as possible but try to keep it simple and reasonable. Use clear wording and non-negotiable terms – and please make it presentable! PDF, people!
Get a deposit, too. This simple tip means you’re at least getting paid something, even if they go rogue, and is probably only necessary for the first time you work with a company. It’s reasonable to ask for up to 50% and I’ve only ever had this request turned down by brands I’ve gone on to have problems with getting full payment from.
When you have completed the work as agreed, email your contact with the link and a few kind words, attaching the invoice and copying in the accounts department if you’ve been given a contact. Always send an invoice. Even if you only make £10 per year on a paid post you should be registered as self employed, and you should keep all invoices like a professional, and that includes issuing them to your clients. Most companies will ask for them anyway, but its good practice to always send them whether requested or not.
Those are all steps you can take before you start work to ensure you’re likely to get paid for your time, but let’s fast forward to that difficult time where you’ve already done the work and you’re being ignored. The pre-agreed payment date has elapsed and you’re getting empty air. What do you do?
Well, firstly send a polite email explaining that you’ve completed the work, and request payment again. Attach your invoice and contract as a reminder. If you’ve had no reply a few days later follow it up with another polite email to the same effect – people do go on holiday and get sick, so don’t get shirty just in case.
What if you wait another few days/weeks with no response? At this point you’re probably ready to write it off – but why should you? Your time is valid and you have been contracted to perform a job. One more polite email, copying in the “contact us” address of the client, or a superior if you can find them, often does the trick and solves a multitude of problems – if someone is out sick, a colleague will pick it up, or if you’re being ignored then it might be enough to cheek them into paying. Sometimes this is the last time you’ll need to get in touch and you’ll be paid with apology. Sometimes not.
So, what if you still don’t get paid or get a response? Sadly, its time to get social. Don’t become bunny-boiler mad, but a polite public tweet to the organisation should get some response – something along the lines of “can you please have [name] contact me about some work I recently did?” or “Hi can I have the contact details for your accounts department as a payment due is late” . You cannot underestimate the power of social confrontation, and putting a little pressure through twitter or facebook politely can do you wonders – I recently got to this point and received an email from the person who had been ignoring me within 15 minutes.
If it goes further than this then sadly I have no concrete experience, but if you are serious and the amount is worth pursuing further, then seeking legal advice would be recommended. Small claims under £10,000 can be filed for £75 but can end up costing much more, especially if the client pays before a hearing. To do this you’d also need to have obtained a contract from them, and a few other things. In short, unless you’re owed a huge sum (not likely for bloggers) then it’s probably a bit drastic to threaten legal action.
However, I have been ignored even after a bit of social pressure, and its so frustrating! The easiest thing to do is either remove the post entirely, or make an amendment to the post to explain the situation. They’ll either realise it’s been changed and get in touch, or they won’t, and you’ll no longer be recommending them anyway.
The most important tip is to remain professional – just because they’re being unprofessional doesn’t mean you should join them. Stay polite and reasonable, and refrain from making demands or being insulting – nobody wants to help someone who’s off the rails.
Have you ever been in this position?
Do you have any tips for ensuring you get paid?
Ps I’ll be running the Great Manchester 10k on May 11th in aid of The Wood Street Mission. They are a Manchester charity dedicated to supporting local families living in poverty. All of your support is massively appreciated by me and of course the 14,000 children affected by poverty in Manchester. If you’d like to contribute you can sponsor me here: https://www.justgiving.com/CatherineCantRun/