These days I insist that my clients make an advance payment (full payment, not 50% or 40%) before I schedule their work. It started with the onslaught of Covid-19 when many of my clients suddenly disappeared without making the payments for the work that I had done for them.
Then I realized that, both from mine as well as the client’s perspective, charging the full advance works better. Of course, most of the clients are apprehensive, and I take appropriate measures to allay their concerns. I explain.
Why I’m charging a full advance for my content writing services
As I have explained above, I started taking the full advance after Covid-19. I’m not blaming the clients but in total, I may have lost payments for 30-40 hours that I spent writing their content. If you can believe, I don’t resent those clients. The entire world went through calamitous times. I’m thankful that many of us have survived unscathed.
Over the past years I have realized that when clients miss making payments, it is not because they don’t want to pay or they want to fleece me – not all of them. They just lose track and once they have lost the track, they move on, and once they have moved on, it is difficult to make them pay.
Content writing is my full-time job. It is my bread and butter. In Hindi, you would call it my “rozi-roti”. Almost all of my income comes from writing content for different clients. Compared to my clients, my stakes are higher.
For almost all of my clients, getting content written for their websites and blogs is a side activity. I’m not saying it is less important, but after everything said and done, it is not one of their main undertakings. For example, you may be a lawyer, an accountant, a business coach, a web design agency owner, a photographer, a doctor, a real estate developer, an architect, or something else. That is your work. You spend a major part of your day doing your work or delivering your core competency. Writing content is not your major undertaking of the day.
Sometimes clients get busy with other responsibilities. Priorities change sometimes. Projects get shelved. There is suddenly some cash crunch and “adjustments” need to be made. In all this quintessential hubbub, they may not even give a second thought to that distant content writer who is spending his time doing the work they no longer consider important, but for him, it is. He is ignoring the work of another client to work on their project for which, they may not pay.
What if I take your money and then don’t do your work or do a lousy job?
This is a valid fear. Every person wants to be cautious before spending money. And it happens. People take money and then disappear. The Internet is full of such stories. I’m not saying the apprehension is unfounded. All the valid reasons are there.
So how do I counter this fear? How do I explain to my clients that giving a full advance to me is a safe bet and I’m not going to disappear with their money or I’m not going to do a lousy job simply because I’m no longer looking forward to payment from you (because I have already received it)?
Most of the people hold back payment thinking that the service provider will do his or her best to be able to get the payment.
Most of the service providers, especially those who take outsourced jobs such as content writing or web design and such, work on the percentage model. For example, they take 40% advance and then start working. Then they complete the work and show a portion of it and get another 40%. Then they deliver the work and receive the remaining 20%. Or 50%-50%.
I’m not pointing at particular clients, getting repeat payments, especially once you have delivered the work, can be a big drain on your energy and creativity as a writer. Some people may not have a problem with this, but I don’t feel comfortable asking for money repeatedly. So many times I have lost money because the client didn’t pay the remaining amount and after a couple of reminders, I felt too awkward to ask.
Full advance payment for content writing doesn’t mean there needs to be a big commitment
Here is the process that I follow that makes me and my clients comfortable.
- Based on the specs I prepare an estimate.
- I divide the project in smaller chunks (Phase 1, Phase 2, …).
- I ask for a topic from the client and agree to submit a sample of 200-300 words.
- If the client likes the sample, he or she pays the full amount for Phase 1.
- When Phase 1 is done, if the client is still happy with my work, he or she pays for Phase 2.
- And so on.
Does this process always work? Not necessarily. Especially when I’m writing content for companies. Their accounting departments have their own procedures. There are company policies that don’t allow them to make payments unless they have received the product. In such cases I go on a hunch. But with individuals, except for the rarest of the rare cases, I stick to my process.