Freelance Writing: Common Reasons for Late Payments

Earning one’s livelihood as a freelance writer can be an uphill battle. In order to succeed in this field, you need to be knowledgeable in a variety of subjects, possess a strong command of grammar and punctuation, and have a knack for attracting repeat business. As is the case with any type of freelance profession, writers depend on clients to process payments in a timely and hassle-free manner. Depending on a writer’s financial situation, a single late payment could be mean the difference between making rent and drawing the ire of one’s landlord. Unfortunately, as any seasoned writer can attest, the occasional late payment is practically inevitable. Below are some of the most common reasons payments are processed at a later date than expected.

Overactive Spam Filters

In many cases, late payments can be attributed to overactive spam filters. The person to whom you submitted your invoice may have an email client with a hyper-vigilant spam filter that classified your message as spam for one of many possible reasons. The number of things that set off spam filters increases by the minute, making it hard to predict what rules you should follow when sending messages. As a general rule of thumb, you should reach out to any client who doesn’t contact you within 24 hours of receiving your invoice. This ensures that even if your invoice was detected as spam, you’ll be able to receive your payment by the agreed-upon date.

Late Invoices

If you submit an invoice late, you should expect to be paid late. Many writers are afraid of sending out invoices until clients directly request them, as they feel that this comes off as forceful. While there’s nothing wrong with being courteous, waiting too long to submit invoices is liable to inspire more frustration than gratitude in your clients. That being the case, make a point of submitting your invoices within 48 hours of completing your work. Writers who submit a fair number of invoices and estimates are encouraged to download this professional estimate for free.


Miscommunications are arguably the most common reason for payments being processed late. In many instances, writers and clients simply aren’t on the same page with regard to deadlines and compensation dates. To avoid such mishaps, take care to discuss the aforementioned dates with your clients before diving into new assignments. If you both have a solid understanding of when your work is supposed to be completed and when you’re supposed to be paid, the odds of miscommunication will decrease significantly.

Despite its challenges, freelance writing can be an enjoyable and rewarding way to make a living. However, for people who are used to the security of salaries and regular paychecks, working as a freelancer may be a bit of an adjustment – especially when it comes to late payments. When working as a freelance writer, you’re guaranteed to encounter clients who are unable or unwilling to process payments in a timely manner. With this in mind, it pays to familiarize yourself with some of the most common circumstances surrounding late payments.

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