Freelancer Unpaid Invoice Horror Story

“An easy way to keep a freelancer happy is to pay them as soon as possible,” wrote Krissy Howard in a recent post on our blog about the best ways publishers can stay in the good graces of their freelancing creatives. Sadly, as many freelancers can attest, the payment process is historically tedious. Delays in payment can last weeks or sometimes months. In some extreme scenarios, a freelancer is not getting paid at all. I’m bummed to report that I am one of those sad bunch who fall into the “never paid at all” bucket.

My Story of Unpaid Freelance Work

In 2019, I took on my first freelancing project for an established magazine. My assignment was to interview a notable singer-songwriter for their upcoming print issue. It was my first time working with the publication, and I wanted to make a good impression, so I conducted the interview and turned around the final piece within a few days of assignment. The editor was very proactive in asking for banking information to set up direct deposit and make sure that I was paid swiftly.

Twelve days after submitting my final piece, it was published in the magazine’s print issue. It looked great, and I was very proud to have my work in print for the first time. But when I checked my bank account, there was no payment. “This is normal for a freelancer,” I thought to myself. “These things take time. Wait a little longer before checking in.”

Six days after publication, I decided to reach out again. I asked about the timeline for direct deposit. Did they need an invoice from me for their records? They assured me that they had the whole invoicing process under control, and that my payment had already been processed. I could expect the deposit within 30 days. 30 days passed and still no payment. I followed up one more time, with no response. I hesitated to continue reaching out again for clarification, in fear of being annoying and potentially tarnishing the longevity of our continued working relationship.

After a few months of silence, I just let it go. After all, I had never even been given a rate for the piece in the first place. Maybe there had been some type of miscommunication where they incorrectly assumed that I would be delivering the article pro-bono. At the end of the day, I decided the time I was spending wringing my hands about the lost payment was worth more to me than the payment itself.

Almost two years to the day since our last email correspondence, I still have not received any form of payment or further acknowledgement of our communication. In hindsight, I should have been more proactive, but at the time, I was just happy to have been published at all.

It’s stories like this one that make OutVoice so appealing. If that publication had been using OutVoice technology in their content management system, the payment process would have been initiated as my piece went live, faster than any other platform on the market.

Want to know more? Click here to schedule a demo with our founder, and learn how to save your freelancers once and for all by paying while you publish, and putting out calls for specific content, as needed — all on one platform.