Give Me My Money!

Last week I clearly disappointed some readers.

They thought I was going to give them a few quick tips on how to handle non-paying clients. Instead, I asked them to take a good look at their relationship with money.

“I’m not the one to blame,” said one colleague. “Why should I feel guilty when a client refuses to pay me when the invoice is due? I delivered my work on time. Don’t make me the bad guy!”

I wasn’t trying to guilt-trip anyone, but there’s a reason why I wanted you to take a look in the mirror when it comes to finances. As a freelancer, you are responsible for how you run your business. If you’ve done everything right and your client still isn’t paying, remember this:

It’s not your fault, but it is your problem.

“Doing everything right” means…

Read the rest of this story in my new book. Click on the cover to access the website and get a sneak peek. Use the buttons to buy the book.

Making Money In Your PJs cover

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a multilingual voice-over professional, coach and writer. His blog has been voted one of the most influential voice-over blogs in the industry. He's an expert contributor to Internet Voice Coach, the Edge Studio, the International Freelancers Academy and

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Freelancing, Money Matters

16 Responses to Give Me My Money!

  1. Pingback: Europe Cracks Down on Late Payments | Nethervoice

  2. J. Christopher Dunn

    {{{Knock on wood}}}

    I’ve had only one client who paid at the extreme end of their leisure. The steps I took to get payment follows your suggestions. Ultimately, payment came when they needed me to do more work. They were not amused when I asked to be paid (for not one but TWO projects!) first before accepting new work.

    I had an interesting conversation with the CEO of the company and explained my position. He didn’t want to use PayPal so I suggested using a credit card. For some reason, that was not acceptable either. He mentioned sending me a check. I explained that before I took on more work, I’d have to have the check in my position and cleared. “I’ll get back to you,” he said and hung up.

    About an hour later, I received notification through PayPal that the total amount had been paid. I haven’t heard from them since.


  3. Linda Coelli

    Paul, this is a great post, full of great advices. Unfortunatelly, Brazil is an injust country and if you publish wherever that a client didn’t pay you, you can be sued(!!!!) by the client… It’s a really disgusting law…

    But until now I have only one spanish client that owes me only 450 bucks(!!!) The debt will celebrate the first anyversary already and I’m in the step CONTACT THE END-CLIENT. Client is trying to help me but if I don’t get the payment until the ‘aniversary’ I’ll try the collection agencies…

    Last step is: getting paid I’ll tell my story in my blog (the spanish producer doesn’t know about the brazilian law).

    If I don’t get paid, client has to stop using my material…


    Thanks for sharing!!!


  4. Paul Strikwerda

    Hi Debbie, I’m sorry to hear about your situation with the Coffee News. I’m glad my article helped you take back your power. Use it wisely. Stay polite and be persistent as you deal with these advertisers. Good luck!


  5. Debbie Jackdon

    Thank you, Paul, I really needed this today. All is well with my VO clients but I also now publish a print publication called Coffee News and have a handful of advertisers who are refusing to pay for ads that have been printed. I have been feeling like a victim who has been taken advantage of, but I need to take responsibility for my situation as outlined in your blog. Thanks for helping me take back my power!


  6. matt forrest

    Some good points, as usual, Paul. I always make sure clients and I are on the same page re: payment. The biggest, most important rule to remember: Just because you think you’re in the right on an issue – any issue – doesn’t mean you are. There are always multiple angles to every story, so whenever I feel completely and utterly justified in an situation, I always try to remember that there IS a possibility I’m overlooking something. It’s a good reason to cut clients a little slack when possible!


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Jason, thanks for your clarification. With a growing work force of freelancers, I’m afraid that more of us will have to call on you in the future.

    Moe, we loved meeting you too at Uncle Roy’s. Next time come to Easton first and we’ll travel to Antland together!

    Matt, you’re right: there’s always a story behind the story. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of B.S. It’s often hard to tell the difference. I’m sticking to my policy, but once a client has earned my trust, I am more than willing to wait a little longer to be paid. I do expect that client to clue me in. I don’t appreciate clients who want my audio ASAP and then go MIA on me.


  7. Moe Rock

    Wow!! What a fabulous blog. This is so FULL of valuable information I’m going to bookmark it!

    Thanks as always Paul.

    Oh… and it was great to finally meet you and your lovely wife last weekend. :o) If you are ever in the Harrisburg area I’d love to take you to lunch.


  8. Jason at CRS

    I hear you Paul. Sadly that’s my reality. No one loves me, until they need me lol. I joke with clients that “I hope I never hear from them again”, but in reality I network like any normal business person. I actually care for and enjoy many good relationships with past clients.

    Next, we typically don’t accept cases under $500 unless there are multiple accounts needing attention. We do have a letter service that works well for balances under 3k though.

    That being said, anyone is welcome to call and discuss their situation and we’ll make some suggestions. I have taken on several under $500 balances just because if I feel it’s their only hope, I can’t turn them away. A no money up front option IS good for those situations because the small amount doesn’t warrant the cost of small claims court, for example.

    If your balances are typically lower than $500 you’ll definitely want to do as much as you can for yourself, like you talked about. I’ll never turn anyone away without helping them as much as I possibly can whether we make $$ or not.

    I’ve even put together a micro-consulting option where we can help you set up a cradle to grave (meaning first contact to completed paid project) process to ensure you minimize losses and get access to earned income as quickly as possible. In other words, I’ll spend an hour or three with you to teach you how to fish, instead of just catching one for you.


  9. Rob Sciglimpaglia

    Thank you for another great post, Paul, and for the mention of my book, Voice Over Legal. This was also the topic of my presentation at Voice Over Virtual. You do a great job of covering all the bases.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Rob, your book is an island of sanity in a sea of misinformation. Congrats on yet another national campaign!

    Jo, if our talent is the heart, money is certainly the lifeblood of our business. Without it we won’t survive. I like the fact that payment up front seems to become more common. Thanks for being part of that trend!

    Jason, thank you for your kind words. Don’t take this personally, but I hope I’ll never need your services. In the voice-over world, many of us make a living doing smaller $200 – $300 jobs. Is it worth it to use a collection agency to go after a non-paying client for these amounts, or do you recommend taking action for jobs over $500?

    Monty, thanks for the manly hug! I hope your situation gets resolved soon and in a positive way.

    Ted, net 180 is outrageous, but I understand where you’re coming from. It’s a nice surprise to receive a check 6 months after having done the work.


  10. Me

    Do you know what… in my opinion money is up there with Oxygen!

    I always stay on top of my invoices and pursue late payers… sadly, it is always the same people I find I’m emailing each time.

    However, aside from the bigger companies I work with, I always make a point of requesting monies in advance! It’s as simple as that. You can’t get anything off the internet without paying for it, and as you quite rightly said in your last blog, you wouldn’t go into a restaurant with an assumption of being invoiced.

    The more and more people start to ask for payment in advance, the more and more acceptable it will become. Don’t be scared. If you lose a job because someone won’t pay in advance, so what. You’re no worse off than you were 2 minutes before. And, it may well be that you’ve avoided a nasty situation.

    One last thing… do you know if there is a Legal voiceover book for the UK?



  11. Jason at CRS

    Paul, another great article. A sincere thank you for the Cambridge Receivable Solution mention.

    Usually the articles like this that I read, from those not in the collection industry, make me cringe. They are full of horrible advice and misleading information in the name of content.

    You on the other hand seem to have a good grasp on the strategy and psychology of getting what you’ve earned. The phrase you used “It’s not your fault, but it is your problem” is spot on. To follow that up I would offer a phrase I use often which is “You don’t have to be the bad guy, but don’t be a sucker either”.

    Bottom line, you deserve to get paid for your work. You must do your part and also have a process/strategy that you follow every time to minimize losses. Every industry and size/type of client is different so there are many delicate factors involved.

    Good luck to all of you VO artists and everyone else who happens upon this article.
    Thanks again Paul, for helping the good guys get paid!


  12. M Lewis Sauerwein

    Bravo Paul. I sure needed this right now. Thank you for the re-focus and as always, your clarity. Manly hug from Europe.


  13. ted mcaleer

    Great one Paul, I especially liked the links you provided for your nonpayment and the going to court.
    I’ve never been stiffed by customers, but the new trend developing here is Net+180. I have one customer who is net 6 months. But he pays premium prices and the work they do is excellent. So all the jobs I do are “showreel” type jobs.
    Thanks for the great blog!


  14. Karol Walkowski

    Amen to that! :)


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