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). 

 

Streamline Your Time Spent Blogging | Get These Apps Now!

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We're all looking for new ways to make our lives more time efficient. There's nothing that grinds my gears more than waiting in line with nothing to do. Especially with regards to the blog. The biggest strain on my time is often not the writing (as you may have guessed) but the uploading, the photo editing, the tagging, then the distributing across social media. 

I've put together a mini-listicle of Time Saving Blogger Hacks, I'd be interested in hearing in the comment section if anyone has any more. 

Otranscribe 

Otranscribe is a free web app to take the pain out of transcribing recorded interviews. I've tried countless of different apps, some with varied level of success. Ultimately if you can afford it, outsource it. However, this app makes transcribing those recorded interviews a sh&t tonne easier. Not such a well-kept secret anymore. 

Tailwind 

Oh the sweet joy of bulk image uploads. Talking earlier about multiple social media distribution, Tailwind will relieve you of all that heavy lifting. It will post all of your visual marketing content to Instagram and Pinterest from one tool with a single workflow. 

LogoGarden 

Especially if you're just starting out as a blogger, Logo Garden will not only save you time, but money as well. You don't need an all singing-all dancing logo for your blog because chances are you'll change it in a few months when you rebrand. Yes many bloggers think it's a great idea to write about one thing, their love for cats or thrift stores, but soon realise that money isn't allocated to a single genre. Why do you think the word 'Lifestyle' was invented. 

Loom

Ohhh yes baby, this is the biggy. Loom is a ten minute screen recording device that allows you to share a screen and record audio. Perfect if you have a team of minions that you need to address, rather than hammer out a dissertation email, this software is free and has been a revelation for me. 

For example on my e-commerce site I have a small team, each assigned different roles. Copywriting, graphic design, layout etc. Rather than shoot them independent emails I get to summarise in a five minute video, sharing my screen and highlighting the problems that need addressing. 

Also a really good tool for those big pitches! If you want to make that very big pitch personable, nothing better than a very recorded video just for that one client. Less spammy. 

Last Pass 

Oh sweet Lord, what a find this is. Passwords were the bane of my life. Constantly having to refer to my little black book, then I'd need to decipher my own handwriting, then I'd lose the book anyway. 

Last Pass, it's a vault for all the passwords and populates all the fields so you can do away with that little black book, if you haven't lost it already. 

 

 

Things for Bloggers to Know Before Buying Drones

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Are you thinking of buying a drone? Well cool your jets there hotshot, because if you don't play by the rules you could be facing jail time. Drones have become ubiquitous thanks to the upsurge in technology, increased fascination with photography and videography and the decrease in cost.  

Now new legislation for drone users is rolling out as we speak and UK drone users may have to pass online safety tests under legislation being introduced to the Commons. Here are some of the KEY facts you should know before buying a drone. 

 

How much should I pay for a Drone

Depends pal, how flush are you right now? The sky is the limit (pardon the pun) when it comes to drones. Generally the less expensive the drone, the more of a remote control plane it becomes targeted for your ten year old nephew.

But you're a blogger, and you want to up your YouTube game. You're just finding your feet in videography and want a drone to film around the hotel you're reviewing, or do a 360 around the new outfit you're wearing? 

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Here's what you need to consider

You need to factor in the following. The wireless range and battery life. Can the drone land safely automated when out of range or better yet, can it return back to you once it reaches it flies out of range? Here are my recommendations:

The Yuneec Typhoon H is an auto return drone currently selling for just over £700. It has an automatic takeoff, landing, and return to home so you don't have to do an Anneka Rice treasure hunt to find the thing. 

Is the drone compatible with my GoPro? 

You might want to put your own camera into the drone. In that case you can purchase the GoPro Karma Quadcopter currently on sale at Amazon for £375. It's portable, compatible with GoPro HERO5 and HERO6. Also backwards compatible with HERO4. The only downside is the fly time of 20 minutes, which could be better considering the price. 

Does it have Orbit Me? 

This is the coolest feature. You might be interest in the Orbit Me feature (otherwise known as follow me mode, which locks the camera onto your movement). Very handy if you're a mountain biker, skateboarder etc.  A lot of bloggers and videographers would recommend the Mavic Air if you're just starting out or the Mavic Pro (which is the drone that I personally use).

The Mavic Air/Pro comes with Active Track so it can zero in on moving targets. It's renowned for being extremely lightweight and portable, folds up and easily fits in a camera bag. Perfect for travel. Though I strongly recommend you seek out the travel allowance for airlines and countries. 

Lithium batteries are on the banned and restricted list for British Airways flights, this is direct from their website:

Due to the potential fire risk associated with lithium batteries, hoverboards and other self-propelled electrically-powered vehicles such as Air Wheels, Solo Wheels, skateboards, scooters and Hover Karts are completely forbidden.

Some countries require a permit; others simply won't allow them into the country. Morocco for example. 

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And what are the new laws coming in I need to be aware of before flying my drone? 

The chances are all the spectacular footage you've seen on YouTube of drones circling over cities and hotel resorts have been captured illegally. 

Consumer drones (classed as those that weigh under 20kg) must be flown no higher than 400 feet (120 metres), and be kept at least 50 metres away from people and private property, and 150 metres from congested areas and organised open-air assemblies of more than 1,000 people.

New restrictions soon to be implemented will mean restrictions around airport boundaries have also been clarified stopping any drone flying within 1km of them.

Also, people who own drones weighing 250g or more will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Make sure you check the weight of your drone if you're augmenting its features. I.E adding your own camera.

Users who fail to adhere to the flight restrictions could face unlimited fines, up to five years in prison, or both.

 

I’m glad they are taking a reasonable initiative to ensure the safety of the public and drone pilots alike. Drones are getting cheaper and a lot of people are taking them out of the box and flying them without understanding the rules and limitations. The new law won’t stop people from buying them but allow them to fly safely and with confidence.
— @GadgetsBoy | Instagram

How I deal with Passive/Aggressive comments on Social Media

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It's been a new thing for me in recent weeks, learning how to tackle the passive/aggressive and the outright aggressive comments on social media. By and large I have a great community of influencers and fans that champion my platforms, leaving very encouraging remarks. But as the saying goes if you're pleasing everyone then you're pleasing no one.

Some recent comments have hit home of late, especially the ones of the passive/aggressive nature. The ones that sound like they come from an honest place, but are have an undertone of resentment and in my mind specifically engineered to get under my skin.

Why passive/aggressive comments are the worst is because the author lacks a complete backbone. They don't have the balls to be direct and call a spade a spade. A recent comment on my YouTube informed me that I was pronouncing a certain word wrong, calling me a tw*t in the process. Those sort comments I can digest, deflect, even laugh, but the ones that are surreptitiously masked, leave a taint.

Saying something mean whilst having plausible deniability. 

Just Saying

Just Saying, putting it out there, always with the open palms right? You're just saying it, but that doesn't stop people feeling it. You're 'Just Sayin' is the weasel's way out. Just say it, without the Just Saying.

Just Curious  

Just Curious? Just curious about how many blokes you've slept with before me. Just curious, out of curiosity, what's your dick count up to? Just curious how much did you make on your last job? Of course you're curious, but just by making the proclamation does not make your 'curiosity' any less invasive. 

No Offence

No offence but actually offence. No offence but that's not a good look for you. That's not a good look for you, and offence because I'm actually bang into this look, and I can handle criticism, but not when it comes unqualified. No offence, but justify your opinions, I'll accept them, respect them and we'll move on. No offence, but go eff yourself with your no offence 'offense'. (Americanism). 

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How do you handle Passive/Aggressive comments on social media?

Firstly, if you're being intimidated or bullied at all then this can lead to mental health issues. Please reach out to the professionals, the word is eCrime is now sadly becoming more prevalent, it's in the police lexicon but there are professionals that can help you out. There's no shame in reaching out.

Secondly, you can always mute, block or call them out. It's possibly harder to call them out because they're more than likely friends in real life that has perhaps just gotten a little jealous, or maybe you've hit a nerve somewhere you didn't know existed. That's where the third tip will help you out the most.

DETACH! Learning to emotionally detach will help you handle most things, but especially negativity in your life. To quote ex-navy Seal turned author and podcaster Jocko Willink, you need to learn to detach

"When you're not detached you're in the storm and you don't even know it."

That's all I have on this today. I'd be interested to know if anyone else experiences this on their channels, and how they react to passive/aggressive comments.