It happened again. You’re working with a first-time client and have a chance to build a new relationship. You received payment for the initial job, but payments for the pickups seem to be slow or, dare you think, a no-show. Are they going to pay you for your voiceover work and services?
Have you been stiffed? Not getting paid by a voice-over client is very devastating for a talent. We all work extremely hard to perfect our craft and provide the best services. But sometimes, things happen outside of our control, and these things can affect our livelihood. Here are some thoughts on addressing those non-payment instances when clients don’t make good on their promises.
Don’t Blame Yourself
New voice talents can take not getting paid by a client especially hard. A voice-over artist may feel that a client has not paid them because they did not produce a good final product, or their voice work needed to be improved.
No matter how long a person has been a voiceover talent, it still hurts not to receive just compensation. So first, stop blaming yourself. Don’t let others shame you into thinking that someone not paying is your fault. You took the job hoping to develop a first-rate project for your client and then receive the agreed-upon compensation.
To find “yo money,” treat this non-payment as a business issue not a reflection of one’s talent as a professional. Millo Contributor, Steve Pomerantz, writes in What to do when a client doesn’t pay + how to prevent it from happening again, “Realize that non-payment happens to most freelancers and small business owners at least once in their careers, so you’re not alone. This is a time to be “all business” and prioritize payment above the satisfaction of lashing out at your client.”
Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.” Winston S. Churchill
Send follow-up Invoices/Demand Letters
There is nothing wrong with sending a friendly reminder to a client in the rear. Perhaps something happened, and they forgot to pay you. In the voiceacting world, producers and agencies often receive payment from their clients after a voice talent has helped on a project. So, a well-worded, friendly reminder may be all that you need. Keep records of when you sent out your reminders and follow up within a few weeks. Never use threatening language, but always keep your tone professional and to the point.
Contact Client via their Social Media Pages
If you have yet to receive a response from your client, a nice direct or public message may get their attention. Mind you, you do not want to destroy the reputation of your business, so you should carefully phrase your message. In FreshBooks Blog’s Ghosted: What to Do When a Client Doesn’t Pay Up, states that “Most companies can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or in some online capacity. Contact them through these venues with a simple, polite message to get in touch with you.”
Set up A Client Payment Plan/Agreement
As our economy is still finding its post-COVID feet, some companies may be working but still need to catch up as a business. So consider helping the client by allowing for a payment plan. Millo Contributor Steve Pomerantz, in What to do when a client doesn’t pay + how to prevent it from happening again, further notes, “If your customer is having trouble with finances, creating a payment plan can ensure they pay on a set schedule that works for both parties. Payment arrangements may also strengthen your relationships with clients by instilling trust in them and offering options that support their financial well-being.”
Consider A Collection Agency/Factoring Service
As a voice talent, you may not want to spend a lot of time running after a few non-payment clients. So, consider selling your invoices to a factoring service or collection agency instead of just cutting your losses and moving on. In the case of a factoring service, they pay you a portion of what is owed. Realistically, don’t expect to receive all you’re owed from the factoring service, but you could sometimes get up to 75 percent of your invoice. The good thing is once you have sold your invoice, you never have to worry about it again. You can move on to other clients and continue building your business.
Before You Start, Get It In Writing
The last time I was stiffed was when I didn’t have a contract and fully research the client. But, because the clients were local, I assumed they would honor our verbal agreement. So, before you get started, have the client sign your contract.
The contract should have your payment terms, work specks, etc. A reputable client will not refuse to sign an agreement that protects the client and you. You should have a voice-over template contract for jobs that you can modify as needed. Ensure an attorney reviews your agreement and it is valid in your business’s state of residence.
If your client is in the United States, you have the rules of each state to review regarding your collection rights. However, collecting from overseas clients may prove more difficult. So, the point is to work with your safety net first, which is your contract signed by the client.
Your voice-over contract needs to be signed by the client and include key points legally binding the contract’s terms. In the article for SCORE, 8 Options When Your Clients Refuse to Pay You, Derek Miller writes, “The contract should detail the project you’ll be doing, how much the client will pay you, and when payments are expected. It will also state that you’ll charge late fees if the client’s invoice remains unpaid for a specific time.”
Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.” Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Cut Your Losses And Move On
Walking away from money is the last thing a working voice-over business owner wants to do. However, when the overdue bill is meager, you may want to move on and chock it all up to experience. Instead, your time may be better spent looking for new clients, better jobs, and building good relationships.
Voiceacting, at its heart, is about helping others. So, you don’t want to get too caught up in the weeds chasing one or two no payers. Your time is better spent partnering with companies that appreciate you as a professional businessperson and a darn good voice talent.
Keep breaking that lip!