Friday, November 28, 2008

Blogging the Write Way: How Not to Get Paid

A while back, I offered an article on setting your price for sponsored posts. I have a whole lot more to say on the subject of sponsored posting - so much that I considered creating a separate series on the matter (and have many drafted entries concerning it) - and this particular entry is directly inspired by an issue I have been fighting far too often lately: getting paid on time!

Observant surfers may have noticed a disturbing trend lately: the "Beta" website. In effect, we have become a Beta cyberculture, and it has become so prolific that a backlash has finally arisen.

When I started doing this several years back, most of the networks and sites I signed-up for were pretty straightforward. Today, almost every one of them has that annoying (and deceivingly slight) "Beta" tag. And there is only one reason for this:

Late payments.

I have been with two companies, in particular, more or less since they started. While one is fairly recent, and began with the Beta tag, the other was going strong for a full year or more before it adopted the Beta status. This was preceded by an unprecedented - to then - delay in payments. I actually waited some three months for a $120 payment!

To avoid bad blood - because I still make money with these networks and want to continue doing so, plus we all know how things go sometimes - we will call them Company A and Company B (well, just A and B): Company A is the one that was going strong for a long time before entering "Beta" stage (and the one that delayed a $120+ payment for over three months); Company B is the one that came out of the gates in Beta... and is still in Beta after over a year of operation!

I am so frustrated today because Company B owes me a measly $5.00 - and has since Tuesday. Before you crease your brow, they also have a significant amount of my money tied-up because they have a $20.00 minimum payout. In other words, until I receive that $5.00 payment, I can't access the other (near) $20 in my account! This specifically (and singularly) led to one of my regular bills going into PAST DUE status. Obviously, a late fee will be levied on said account, meaning that, not only have I been unable to access my $20+ dollars for an entire week, but that it actually cost me money because I couldn't!

Company A, meanwhile, has owed me $35.00 for going on three weeks now.

The Thanksgiving holiday may be an issue, but even worse, this is the final business day of the week, meaning I might not be able to get to any of this money before Monday! Not cool - especially since I inquired as to the status of the $5.00 payment several times, earlier in the week. If they planned on being away for the entire holiday weekend, one would have hoped they would have had the foresight to handle all outstanding inquiries before leaving!

Imagine if the bill in question was my Internet account!

Now, part of any successful freelance operation is cash-flow and managing your money. But there is only so much to go around. After all, three weeks is an outstanding length of time to wait for payment! And while four days is not long to wait - especially for a mere $5.00 - when there is a minimum payout, you are actually waiting far longer to accrue the amount needed to cash-out. Another company (not included in this discussion) has a minimum payout of $25.00, and does not pay until 30 days after this amount is reached - which means it can take months to accrue $25.00, and then you have to wait another month to receive it!

The end result is that I have had to borrow money from several places - many times at outrageous interest rates (due to my credit). In other words, what little money I should be making from this is really only paying the interest and fees I have accrued from borrowing against it! At this point, I am actually paying to blog for these companies!

Obviously, this is far more than a simple cash-flow problem on my end; these continued late payments - compounded in most cases by high payout thresholds - are the source of the problem. Even worse, almost none of these networks have phone numbers where you can contact someone directly. While that is understandable to some degree, in cases such as mine (and others'), there at least needs to be some sort of automated system we can contact! I would at least feel better knowing my message has been recorded, and e-mails sent, than just knowing I've sent e-mails that are setting there in queue.

And why is it these companies are all able to be recompensed for the amounts they are out whenever an advertiser's payment is late or declined, yet we "posties" are not? By this point, I have literally accrued $1000s in fees due to this recurring issue and certainly do not have the money to pay a lawyer. Besides, as I said before, I do not want to create bad blood here! While being paid late occasionally is bad enough, I can deal with it; it's when being paid late starts costing me serious money that I have to say something.

What do you suggest to deal with this issue? Is anyone else experiencing these problems with any sponsored post company (please do not mention names directly)?

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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