While Jake and I were out walking the other day, a bird crapped on my head.  I’ve heard it’s good luck and maybe that’s true. In my mail that day was payment of an invoice that had been outstanding for months. In my e-mail, promise of more money.

Most freelancers aren’t the best at bill collecting. And unless you are living from payment to payment, when you’re busy, you tend to let slide things like hounding people for payment.

In case #1, my client was a small design firm, so I had cut him some slack. I figured he was waiting to get paid by his customer before paying me, although that’s not how I operate. I had billed in two installments; one at the start of the project, and one when my part of it was done. When the client paid bill #2, I realized that something must have happened with bill #1. So I sent a polite request to look into it, along with a copy of the lost invoice.

Some time passed before I got an apologetic note from  Mrs. Client, the bookkeeper. Long story short (computer crash, files wiped out, painful manual hunt), my lost invoice was finally paid.

In case #2, my regular client had paid an invoice by direct deposit. When my bank statement came in, it showed two deposits for the identical amount. A call to the bank assured me they never make mistakes like that (or was it they never make mistakes?), so I told the client’s Accounts Payable group they had made a duplicate payment. They said not to worry, they would take it off the next invoice.

Well, you know what happened, don’t you? They took it off twice. They have since promised to correct the overcorrection.

Anyway, out of all this, some lessons to take away:

  • Pay attention.
  • Be polite; don’t assume evil intent where there may be simple human error.
  • Try to keep a float of money so you aren’t desperate for an invoice to be paid promptly.
  • Back up your files.