Why are women freelancers getting stiffed more than men?
The first time I got stiffed was with a client I found on LinkedIn ProFinder. An Illinois woman requested a cover letter and needed to cut her CV into a resume. I provided her with a cover letter copy and an updated resume. She was very pleased with the cover letter, but the resume—not so much. Though we had a contract in place, she didn’t pay for the work. Long horror story short, I didn’t get paid for the job and LinkedIn did not intervene. Needless to say, the lack of payment security for LinkedIn ProFinder, unlike competitors like UpWork, makes me apprehensive to use it ever again.
I tell this annoying and painful story to let fellow freelancers, especially women freelancers, that they aren’t alone. I thought about this incident after reading Bonsai’s recent blog post about freelancer late payments. According to Bonsai (a project management and client management platform for freelancers), women are more likely to be paid late than men.
Overall, 29 percent of freelance invoices are paid late, but more than 75 percent of late invoices were paid 14 days after the due date. About 31 percent of women freelancers’ invoices were paid late, while 24 percent and 23 percent of men and studios’ invoices were paid late, according to Bonsai. I don't understand is why clients don’t feel the need to pay women on time and in full. Frankly, there's no excuse for it.
You deserve to get paid on time regardless of your gender identity. Here are some tips on how to collect your coins:
When I first started freelancing, I was working full-time as an intern at a business publication. The money I earned on the side was supplementary and sporadic. I recall creating my first invoice using a spreadsheet. Eventually, I wised up and signed up for Wave, a free accounting software which manages payments, invoicing and expense tracking. Of course, there are similar platforms like Bonsai or Freshbooks. Use these platforms to make keep track of your billing.
Set payments reminders.
Back when I began freelancing, I’m pretty sure the first or second invoice for one newspaper client of mine slipped my mind and went a while before it was paid. When you finally pick an accounting software, automate your payment reminders. That way, you won’t have to keep track of what’s due when. Pro tip: choose a software that shows you whether your client has viewed your invoice.
Nag, nag, nag.
When you’re on-boarding a new client, make sure you get all the necessary contact information. Cell phone, direct office line, personal and work email, address, etc. If your client ignores your email invoices, call. If they ignore your phone calls, mail the invoice. Keep in mind that some people poorly communicate when they’re traveling or dealing with a personal email. Reach out through multiple channels before giving up and don’t panic.
Bring in a third party.
If all else fails, call for reinforcements. If the sum is big enough, consider calling a collections agency. Bonsai’s figures show that larger invoices are more likely to be paid late. Nearly 60 percent of invoices of $20,000 or more aren’t paid on time. But for larger invoices, collection agencies can go after your delinquent accounts, though they’ll take a cut of whatever payment they obtain. You can also go to your local union for help. The National Writers Union; it worked for the Ebony magazine contributors. Worst case scenario: take the client to court.
It’s sad but not surprising to see that the same sex discrimination which exists in traditional employment has spilled over into the freelance world. All freelancers deserve to get paid on time and in full for their work. After all, we can’t pay our rent with IOU's.
What tips do you have for nonpayment? How have you gotten clients to pay you on time? Tell me in the comments or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.