Last Updated: March 27, 2021
The question: My client won’t pay me? Do I have to beg?
It happens, that’s all I can say – and in order to continue freelancing and working from the comfort of your own home, you’ll have to accept it; but accepting it is NOT the same a giving into it! One of the biggest perks about working from home is being able to organize your time and dictate your own schedule. On the flip side, one of the biggest problems many freelancers face is, sadly, payment – especially those just getting into freelancing and private practice.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of things here today, I would like to make it very clear that this article is focused on that pesky client who seems to intentionally be avoiding payment at all costs (pun intended!). Things come up, life happens, people forget, and with a gentle nudge (discussed in the next paragraph), the vast majority of clients in this category will have an "Oh crap! I'm sorry!" moment and pay up.
If the project is already finished and confirmed, and better yet, if there are documents and agreements signed between you and the client, you can safely pursue this client by dropping bomb-sized hints via email or other messenger applications, texts, calls, or whatever your primary method of contact is with that client. The excuse of "My boss is harassing me about your payment" cannot be used because, of course, you ARE the boss! But you can say things like: “I was just wondering….” Or “No rush, but when can I expect the payment?”. Perhaps you could also say things like: “I heard a hurricane hit your area, how are you doing? I hope you’re doing well.” Sometimes, when you voice your concern about his or her wellbeing and health, he/she will start feeling guilty and pay you. The famous “Guilt Trip” can work wonders! Again, as mentioned, earlier, most of your clients who really did just "simply forget" (for whatever reason - no need to judge them!) will pay you at this point - generally very apologetically - and life will carry on as usual for all parties involved.
What generally does NOT work too well in your favor is just telling the client off straight-up because you still want his/her business, so being nasty and telling the client off is generally best avoided. Maybe they are trying work some things out on their side or trying to get THEIR clients to pay them so that they can pay you. Yes, it’s true, some clients are mere in-between people – middlemen/women, if you will. And if this is the case, they may need to ensure that THEIR clients pay them so that they can pay you.
With that said, however, whether their clients pay them or not, it is not your concern. It’s got nothing to do with you. The work has been done and the job delivered on time from YOUR end, so YOU deserve your payment whether their clients run away or not! Remember that! If you get that line from your client feel free to say something along the lines of: “I really do understand and sympathize with you but, I can’t help you there! The job/goods have been delivered from my end as promised. Now, when can I expect the payment?”
Contact them every other day. If they don’t respond, your senses will probably be tingling by now. By the third time they ignore your email/message/call, say something firm but not nasty. If they still don’t respond, send them another invoice. Most modern full-system payment processors allow you to send invoices to payors these days, so do that! If this is already the fifth time you’re reaching out to them, feel free to start sending them repeated invoices every day – by then, they should get the message.
If they are still ignoring you at this point, you are going to have to make a choice. Of course, depending on several different factors, such as the size of the transaction, the initial agreement, and the goods/services rendered by you, at this point you are probably 100% in the right to take greater measures to try to track them down and take legal action against them, but that is a decision that only you can make on a case-by-case basis. Remember, for as pathetic as it is in this world we live in, a number of brainless, barbaric potential future customers will see nothing more than “Oh, you’re that man/woman who took legal action against a customer! Heaven forbid! The customer is always right!”
You could also take the route of internally blacklisting them. If they do ever come back to you and attempt to use your services again, do not serve them. Of course, this could come back to you at some point as an “Oh, you’re that man/woman who didn’t serve his/her own customer! How could you?!” But such a stigma is generally easier to deal with than being seen as the aggressor who has come after someone with legal action. However, again, in the end of the day it’s your private practice, and the choice is ultimately completely up to you.
Of course, with all this said and done, remember: in this article we are talking about worst case scenarios. Most clients pay their dues and life is good, but you will always come across bad apples from time to time and there is no way around it!
Do you have any experiences and/or suggestions as a freelancer/private practitioner/business owner about dealing with "bad apples" who won't pay up? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Better life, better business, better you!
Owner and Operator of Biz Opp Empire, a website by Andreas Philip Gross Enterprises
Interview Time: A peek into the Life of a Professional Photographer (and web developer!) in college-town-usa.
Boom Headshot! Photography
Meet Eric of Boom Headshot! Photography: Pullman Resident, Navy Veteran, Web Developer, Softball and Volleyball Champion, and Your Local Hometown Photographer Specializing in Boudoir
An interview by Andreas Gross
Photographs provided by Boom Headshot! Photography
Date of Interview: 10/26/2020
Eric! Thank you for giving us this wonderful opportunity to get to know you better today through this Pullman Business Profile interview for the 3rd Edition of The Pullmanic – Promoting Pullman!, the semi-annual newsletter associated with The City of Pullman Portal website (www.cityofpullmanportal.com). This interview is also published on the website Biz Opp Empire – promoting ideas, inspiration, and opportunity within the realm of small business, freelance, and entrepreneurship! (www.bizoppempire.com). The newsletter and both websites were founded by and are still currently owned and operated by Andreas Philip Gross Enterprises (www.apg-enterprises.com) as of the time of this publication.
It’s small hometown businesses like yours that truly bring Pullman to life and make it sparkle and glow. Let’s go ahead and fire this interview up, shall we, Eric? Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Eric of Boom Headshot! Photography, a photography outfit right here in Pullman, Washington! Eric, let’s start off with a little about you – you know, your life and background, that kind of stuff. Tell us about who you are and where you’re coming from, please.
Hi Andreas! Thanks for getting in touch with me. I’m happy to be doing this interview today. Let’s see…a bit about my background: I grew up in California, enlisted in the military, and served for six years. I was stationed in Hawaii and then San Diego. After my enlistment was over I stayed in California and worked in San Jose and San Francisco before ending up in Pullman. Since being here, I try my best to stay active in the community and to do my part to keep Pullman amazing. I’ve been here for over 11 years now and I love it! The community is very unique and I have no plans on leaving. A few years ago I even bought my first house, which to my surprise, turned out to have been John Elway’s home when he lived in Pullman!
I’m very active in sports, growing up playing baseball and volleyball. Now I play volleyball and run Pullman’s volleyball open gym for Parks and Rec which I also started. I also play softball in various city leagues and tournaments.
Ha, ha, ha! And I’m laughing right now because I remember those days all too well myself. I remember many evenings in early Internet cafes packed with Counterstrike players hearing “Boom! Headshot!” echoing off the walls! “Boom!!! Headshot!” Now you’ve got me saying it again!
Ha, ha; yeah! That’s exactly what the name of the business is a reference too. I’m glad you see the humor in it and appreciate it, too!
Boom Headshot! is a photography business based out of Pullman specializing in boudoir, graduations, engagements, portraits, and more. I target (pun intended J) the general population and have done shoots for just about every genre except newborns. I do a lot of graduation shoots for WSU, U of I, Pullman HS, and Moscow HS, along with a lot of engagements and portraits. The boudoir side of my photography is WSU Boudoir, and targets women and men of all ages and sizes 18+.
Good deal, Eric. And when exactly did you officially start Boom Headshot!?
Boom Headshot! officially started in August of 2018, but photography has always been in my blood. My dad was a sports photographer for the 49ers and my younger sister was a portrait photographer. She still does portraits, actually, and even weddings, but her main focus these days is operating her own tub and sink refurnishing business. I’ve always been around cameras and have owned a few over the years. In 2018 I bought another camera and decided that I would stop fighting the photography urge and go all in. I didn’t start the business to necessarily fill a specific need or niche, however it has definitely done so over the last several years. I haven’t been in business that long, but I have done over 400 shoots during that time so I like to think I have gained good experience and a great following.
Wow! The son of a professional 49ers photographer! Dang! It is in your blood! Well, your shots are certainly top-notch, Eric; and with over 400 shoots in just the last few years you certainly seem off to a good start here in Pullman with your photography. Would you mind telling us how Boom Headshot! is set up business-wise? This question is for our hardcore entrepreneur readers.
I’m currently set up as a sole proprietorship. For my needs it was the cheapest and easiest solution.
Good stuff! And why is Boom Headshot! Photography so cool? Com’on, don’t be shy here!
There are several reasons I think Boom Headshot! outshoots the competition. Especially with photography, I don’t believe people should pay more than I would pay or get less than I would expect. My shoot prices are very straight forward: I don’t charge per photo (unless doing mini shoots), all photos come edited and non-watermarked, and – most importantly – my clients own the rights to the photos they paid for – I don’t restrict them from downloading, sharing, selling, printing, or even editing. I also provide photoshoots that no one else in this area offers, namely silhouettes, water beads, and custom boudoir photoshoots. When it comes down to it, all of my shoots are fun, laid back, professional, and everyone has a great experience. If I’m not having fun, my clients aren’t having fun, and if we aren’t having fun and having a good experience, then it’s not worth it to me!
Well I’m certainly sold! There you have it, Pullman! Looking for a professional photographer here on the Palouse that offers something unique in the area? Look no further than Boom Headshot! Photography!
Now, Eric, as I mentioned, we have some hardcore entrepreneurs who will be reading this interview. Can you give any kind of constructive advice specifically about setting up a business in Pullman, Washington, or small-town USA in general?
My biggest piece of advice would be to know your target audience, find something that makes you stand out against the competition, start small, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Also, hiring me to do your website, SEO, and social is a great start :)!
As a small business owner in Pullman, Washington, and as an individual, what kinds of people are you looking to network with?
I like networking with other small businesses especially for supporting, advice, recommendations/promoting, and bartering services. I also love giving deals to other small local business with my photography and web development services.
That’s great, Eric! Like you said: doing your part to keep Pullman awesome!
Let’s talk a little bit about the challenges, shall we? What aspects of running Boom Headshot! present the greatest challenges to you?
The biggest challenge for me has mainly been finding the time to edit photos and getting the images to the clients as fast as possible. It takes a lot of time, but thankfully my clients are very patient and understanding. I’m lucky to also be a web developer so I was able to do my own websites and SEO, which definitely helps put me in an advantage when it comes to being found online by new potential customers.
Good deal! And what about joy and rewards? You’ve already alluded to this a bit. What aspects of running Boom Headshot! give you the greatest personal rewards?
I love being able to provide photos and experiences to clients that they will remember for a long time. This is why I love doing boudoir the most, it’s very personal and rewarding for my clients, more so than any other genre. I’ve had many clients cry from their photos because of how amazing and beautiful it made them feel when they didn’t think it was possible. I’ve never had anyone cry from other genres, including engagements, kids, or weddings. So I suppose you can say that my greatest joy from taking photos is making people cry – tears of joy, of course!
Tears of joy, Eric; tears of joy! Along those same lines of happiness, rewards, and people crying tears of joy, how does running Boom Headshot! help you find your focus and channel your “Zen Space” in life?
Photography (and web development) are things that I love to do. I’m pretty sane in general and used to working long hours in front of a computer, so fortunately it’s not something I need to escape from. As a freelancer working on my own, I am lucky to be able to step away and take a break as often as I like or for as long as I like. I do feel that photography has helped me grow my confidence with my camera and also talking to people. I’m very introverted and shy in general, but after a few years of having to talk with clients and guide them into a lot of posing, I’m definitely a lot more confident now.
Would you be willing to share any words of wisdom or other advice for others looking to go down this same track or get into something photography related?
For anyone interested in getting into photography (or any service-based business), I recommend building your portfolio and experience by doing free work until you are able to get enough to start charging. A lot of “photographers” in the area buy a nice camera and then start charging $100 an hour but have no idea how to actually use the camera and their portfolio is awful. Start small and build your skills. Pullman is pretty unique with photography because Pullman and Moscow are both college towns, so you do you have a lot of graduation/senior photo opportunities, but you also have a lot of competition in that genre. Knowing your target audience and general population will be helpful to knowing what genres have the most competition and what opportunities there are. For example, Pullman has a lot of graduation photographers, but there are only a handful that are actually good. Knowing your skillset and what you offer versus the competition is a good way to gauge your pricing.
We’re getting close to the end of our time together today, but before we sign off completely, let’s talk a little bit about life in Pullman. Do you have any noteworthy stories you’d care to share about living in Pullman?
The craziest thing – in a good way – about Pullman I like to tell people is how little crime there is here. Reading the police blotter is pretty hilarious, especially when you see things like the police getting dispatched to save a squirrel stuck in a peanut butter jar. Imagine someone calling the police for that in L.A.! They would probably hang up on you and send the police to charge you for wasting their time!
Ha, ha, yeah, probably! What are some of your favorite things about Pullman, Washington?
I’ve lived in several states and have been all over the country. I love living in Pullman because the community really supports each other and lives by the Cougs Helping Cougs mantra. The city is small, but not too small, and it really has everything you need. If you need to buy anything else, there is always Amazon, and Spokane is not too far away. There are also a lot of things to do in the area especially if you are open to getting outside in nature.
Very true, Eric; very true! Pullman is an outdoor recreation wonderland for those who choose to take advantage of it!
Well, now we are at the end of our time for today. Thank you very much for opening up to us, Eric. As we wrap things up here, how can people interested in learning more about your enterprises contact you?
Thank you very much for reaching out to me for this interview, Andreas. It’s been a pleasure. I can be contacted through my website at https://boomheadshot.pro or Instagram @boomheadshot.pro. My web development website is https://53mp.com.
Owner and Operator of Biz Opp Empire, a website by Andreas Philip Gross Enterprises
International K-12 Educator,