As a freelancer, there are a few key ways to ensure your invoices get paid on time. Consider the following options to find out whether or not you have what it takes to get paid, or whether you even deserve to be paid.

1. When thinking about the amount you’re charging, you:

A. Stand firm in the belief that your rate is fair. You know what you’re worth.

B. Pause to question whether the agreed-upon amount was actually agreed upon or whether it was a figment of your imagination. Follow this up by considering whether the work you are doing is of any value.

2. In the email to which you attach the invoice, you:

A. Are matter of fact and to the point. This is simply a business transaction.

B. Spend the opening paragraph expressing your hope that the recipient, Blake, is not only having a perfect week but generally having a perfect life. Apologize for troubling him with your correspondence. Then change the font size to seven and close by asking whether it wouldn’t be too much trouble for your invoice to be paid, but only if he’s not busy.

3. It’s been 15 days since sending the invoice and you haven’t been paid. You:

A. Acknowledge that this is normal.

B. Acknowledge that there are hundreds, thousands, millions of people who could have done this job better than you. Fixate on Maggie from your Narrative Screenwriting film class in college. Check out her website. Watch her film that premiered at Sundance last year. Spend the next forty-five minutes in pain.

4. It’s been 30 days and you haven’t been paid. You:

A. Respectfully nudge Blake via email to complete payment.

B. Stumble upon Maggie’s Instagram story and discover that she made this year’s Forbes “30 Under 30” list. Assume you will never work in this town again.

5. It’s been 60 days and you haven’t been paid. You:

A. Respectfully nudge Blake via email to complete payment.

B. Scour Blake’s social media accounts to figure out his weekend routine. Stage a run-in at the farmer’s market next Saturday morning so as to remind him of your outstanding invoice by reminding him of your existence. To avoid looking desperate, invite him out for drinks sometime, on you.

6. It’s been 90 days and you haven’t been paid. You:

A. Respectfully nudge Blake via email to complete payment.

B. Respectfully nudge Blake via email to complete payment but in a way that makes it sound as if you only just realized you haven’t been paid. Apologize for not only requesting the money you are contractually owed but for existing in the first place.

7. It’s been 120 days and you haven’t been paid. You:

A. Respectfully nudge Blake via email to complete payment.

B. Reconnect with your seventh-grade boyfriend after running into him at that farmer’s market. Marvel at how hot and successful he turned out to be. Then discover that he’s dating Maggie.

8. It’s been 150 days and you haven’t been paid. You:

A. Write up an invoicing contract for yourself so that this never happens again.

B. Google “how to become a farmer.”

9. On day 507, you are finally paid. You:

A. Express your disappointment with how payment was handled. Never work with Blake again.

B. Express your immense gratitude for the speedy turnaround time. Use the entire payment to cover your expenses and taxes. Apologize to Blake for the trouble you’ve caused.


If you chose mostly A’s—congratulations! You have a healthy relationship with the value of your work and with yourself. Unfortunately, this does nothing to speed up the payment process. You will be paid the morning after the first full moon of the seventh month of the year, unless your payer ate a tuna melt for lunch last Tuesday, in which case, you may never receive payment at all.

If you chose mostly B’s—yikes! You’re extremely uncomfortable with the idea of continuously reminding people that you are a human being who requires currency to live. How inconvenient! You will be paid next Tuesday in your dreams, only to wake up in the morning, check your bank account, and realize you have not been paid at all. You will be paid in real money within thirty business years.