How I Invoice Brands and Chase Late Payers: Tips for bloggers

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'Just a friendly nudge'. 

That's my opener when I'm chasing brands for overdue invoices. It's code for 'hey pal, remember me? yeah I'm the schmuck that worked his ass off for a whole month peddling your crap. How about you pay me.' 

Maybe I've seen Casino too many times. Remember that scene where Pesci tells that Banker he wants his money back? Well I'm never far from that level of resentment when it comes to chasing invoices. 

The dichotomy of it all, is that we have to chase them in a polite 'excuse me, excuse me, I'm British', kind of way because of the following reasons; 

  1. We don't want to sound desperate for cash as it looks like we're on our last legs and undermines our bartering power for the next commission. 'He was gagging for that £100 payment last time. Felt like he chased us to the ends of the earth, bet he'll do this job for £50'. 

  2.  We don't want to appear pushy as we want repeat business and want to maintain a good professional working relationship. 

  3. We're naturally too polite and far too good willed. 

I know a lot bloggers and lifestyle magazines have different invoicing policies. Some demand payment upfront before publishing. Others demand payment before they even write the feature. 

I'm quite happy to give brands the standard 30 days, which I believe is fair to both parties. The law for business transactions is 60 days, which is far too impractical for independent businesses that depend on cash flow for survival. Yes you can demand interest on late payments, but the rates are small beer and only compound the issue. 

Imagine if you were owed £1000 by a company like the rates suggest on the Government website. Technically that company can delay payments for nearly another 2 months at the fee of only £11.50. 

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What can you do if a client or brand doesn't pay you? 

The reason why some of these rates and laws feel so draconian is because the Government legislative has not been updated in the last 6 years. The below is also taken from the government website. 

"Amended late payment legislation comes into force on 16 March 2013, implementing European Directive 2011/7/EU on combating late payment in commercial transactions." 

What happens when clients don't pay me? 

I give them every chance. I sometimes walkaway if the pay is modest, I don't look over my shoulder too much. However, one of the bonuses of building a pirate ship is that I get given a megaphone to use over the internet. 

If I know someone else has also been duped by a company, I'll call them out and draw as much focus on their erroneous doings as possible. 

Last summer I was owed a handsome sum of money buy a company, which was a creative content platform for brands and agencies. The CEO did a runner, and lots of influencers were out of pocket. 

My advice on chasing brands for payment? 

Give them the 30 days. Email them with something over than a demand for payment such as.. 

'Hi XXX

Just a quick note to say how great it was working with your team and getting to know your brand last month. Here are the stats from the campaign in case you wanted them. Also I've attached a few extra images from the shoot you may not have seen. Please feel free to use them on your social channels'. 

That normally prompts a response. You want to make sure there’s someone there on the other end of the phone before you start demanding your money back. Sometimes an email like that will trigger them into action. 

If you don't get a reply or a payment, in the next email I'd suggest this. 

'Hi XXX 

Glad you like the photos, I look forward to working with you on the next campaign. Any chance you can give your accounts team a nudge and let me know when I can expect payment for the invoice I submitted last month. I've attached again for their reference'. 

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I’ve attached a copy of my invoice so you can see a working template. 

Hopefully that should do it, and people will want to work with you again in the future. 

BE WARNED 

I made this mistake once of hounding a PR guy for a payment. They were acting as a 3rd party for a clothing brand and the reason why I wasn't getting paid was because I had put the wrong name on the invoice. 

I subsequently had a big fall out with both the PR team and the brand and it took a lot of lunch dates and ass licking on my part to get back in their good books. 

So make sure you have all the details on the invoices correct before you send them out and start threatening to come down there and crack their heads wide open in front of everybody. (Really Joe Pesci says it so much better).