While freelance writers, not surprisingly, spend the lion’s share of their time writing articles for their clients, there are several other responsibilities involved beyond the actual writing. Running a freelance writing business is really not that different from running any other kind of business. You have to deal with customer service, public relations, marketing, and, yes, even accounting.
I came across a blog post on FreelanceSwitch the other day, expounding the advantages of choosing weekly freelance writing gigs over longer-term projects. The article does not focus on the variety and “quick finish” aspects of weekly projects, talking instead about how great it is to be paid weekly. As nice as that may be, I beg to offer a different opinion. Instead of sending out an invoice to your freelance writing clients once a week, it is a much better practice to send out an invoice once a month. Let me explain.
Why Do You Need to Be Paid Weekly?
One of the reasons offered by Raj Dash of FreelanceSwitch as to why you would want to be paid weekly is that it’s “much easier to ensure that there’ll be enough funds when a bill is paid through automatic deductions from your bank account.” If you are concerned about not having enough money to pay your bills, these administrative issues are probably the least of your worries. It’s just a bad idea to live beyond your means and it’s just bad planning if you don’t have the bank balance available to accommodate bill payments.
Yes, I realize that you may have multiple bank accounts (I do too) and you may shift your cash around for a variety of reasons, but you should always make sure that you have enough of a “just in case” fund set up to handle bills and unexpected expenses. This should be readily available. After you’ve worked as a freelance writer for a while, you should have lived below your means and generated an adequate safety net to survive the lulls and pay your bills. There should be no need to get money every week. Once a month is perfect.
Bill Monthly and Minimize Administrative Tasks
Raj Dash says that by billing weekly, “you waste less time and get more work done.” I feel that the complete opposite is true. By sending out invoices every week, you spend much more time performing administrative duties (preparing the invoices, collecting payments, following up on past-due accounts, etc.), rather than spending that time on something more productive and more useful. You know, like writing perhaps?
You are not paid to prepare invoices. You are not paid to chase after customers who aren’t quite prepared to clear their balance. You are paid to write world-class articles for your clients and as such, that’s where you want to be spending the majority of your time. Billable hours are what generate your monthly income, not the administrative stuff.
Clean and Simple Accounting
Another advantage to a monthly billing cycle (as opposed to a weekly billing cycle) is that your accounting is much more simple. If you choose to maintain your books through a simple spreadsheet, you can opt to create a new worksheet for each calendar month. This way, you have an “at a glance” shot at how your business performed in August 2008 as compared to August 2007.
You’ll notice that many weeks are “split” between two months. This can make comparisons like that a little more difficult. It also makes for messier accounting and you want your books to be as straightforward and easy to understand as possible.
Monthly Invoices are Standard Practice
How often do you receive a bill from your cell phone company? How often do you receive a bill from your heating provider? Once a month, right? Most customers expect to receive bills on a monthly basis, so it only makes sense for you to do the same when it comes to invoicing freelance clients. Don’t waste your time with weekly billing, because you really have very little to gain (and so much to lose) by doing so.