Micro Mentor

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Dear MM,

I'm so busy editing for my clients that I never have time to put in an invoice. How do you manage it?

Hungry Freelancer

 

Dear Hungry,

It's great that you have so built up so much business. However, you are running a business, and businesses fail when they don't have any revenue. And as a freelancer, your business - and not anyone else's - is keeping your roof over your head and food in your mouth.

It's important to set up good financial systems and to maintain them. Set aside time at least once per month to make invoices and to chase unpaid invoices. Make sure you that you keep this time free of editing work, no matter how difficult that is. Book a slot in your calendar, and keep this space free mentally. Don't be tempted to work through that slot. Make it a routine: like good financial hygiene.

This is time well spent. It is not time for cramming in another job that you're not yet paid for. This is your reward for all of your hard work.

If the carrot doesn't work, then think of the stick. Things change fast in publishing. What happens if your contact moves to another company? What happens if that arm of the company is sold off? What happens when the company closes its books for the previous financial quarter or year? At best, in all of these cases, it will take even more of your time to chase your payment and a lot longer before it hits your bank account. At worst, you can kiss goodbye to those dollars that you worked so hard for.

If you accept work from anyone other than commercial publishers, you need to be doubly vigilant about getting those fees in (preferably up-front, or at least in stages, including a solid deposit).

It's the start of a new financial year, so make a new year's resolution. Congratulate yourself on your having plenty of work. But don't put your feet up at the end of a job until you have submitted an invoice.

MM