Many freelance medical writers complain of slow-paying clients. No matter what you do, you just can’t escape such clients as a majority of them have standard long turnaround periods (even up to 8 weeks) for making payments to external parties including freelance writers. Some clients have genuine cash flow problems and avoid paying until they are in a position to do so.
Irrespective of how busy a writer you are, the truth is that there are occasions when payments from all your clients get delayed, all at the same time, and there is not much you can do about it except following up with them regularly. This however is tricky! Following up too many times may not be appreciated by your client and can lead to you not getting any future projects that they may have. It is most advisable to be supportive of your client as they may be in a real cash flow problem. Be someone they can rely upon and always maintain a good working relationship.
Now, having said that, how should you manage these periods of not getting paid? This question is more relevant for those who work as full-time freelancers and don’t have any other source of income. Here is some advice:
1. Work as a freelancer only when you believe you have developed good contacts in the industry with people who will outsource writing work routinely to you. Starting to work as a freelancer without enough clients can get you in trouble, unless you have other sources of income to rely on.
2. Be in a family where you are not the sole breadwinner. This may sound strange but in all honesty, it does help. It gives you a sense of security.
3. Every time you get a payment from your client do not spend it all. Saving is the key! Expect lull periods, and save every penny to survive these with ease.
4. Do other work. Many writers teach writing and other subjects of expertise at schools, colleges, training institutes etc. Being involved in such activities also provides a sense of security during no payment periods and can be an additional source of income too.
5. Look for other quick-pay writing jobs. Many times writing jobs are available with quick-pay turnarounds e.g. at Demand Studios. Try those. Also, look for new adverts in local newspapers, online job websites, classifieds etc. If you are lucky, you may find something useful.
Writing is a passion and the best piece of advice one can give to new freelance writers is to portray this career honestly. If you love writing, stick to it and you will make more moolah than you ever did.