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A large majority of Graphic and Web Designers are Independent Contractors and most of us have experienced late invoices and many of us have had the unpleasant experience of an unpaid and completely neglected invoice. This is an epidemic affecting our industry and for years it seems like it has been falling through the cracks of the judicial system.

According to the US Census, 10.3 Million Independent Contractors took up the work force in 2010.

Last year, almost half of independent workers had trouble getting paid for their work.

3 out of 4 freelancers are paid late or not at all at least once in their careers.

Luckily, Freelancers Union has been pushing hard to fight for independent workers causes, especially when it comes to unpaid wages. This year they introduced The Worlds Largest Invoice. In just one week, freelancers collectively posted their losses onto the website and the outcome was up to almost $16 million that their clients still owe them. According to BetaBeat.com, within the first six hours, there were already 114 entries for Web Development. It’s also been noted that web-related service generated some of the highest rates named on the invoice.

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“We hope the invoice will help them to see the scope and depth of the problem,” said union spokesman Dan Lavoie.

- Huffington Post

I have put together some tips on what you can do as a freelancer to help prevent non-payment from clients:

• Require partial payment up front.

• Gather extended information about your client beforehand. Make sure you have full names and addresses.

• Send formal invoices and late notices promptly. Charge late fees and be strict about them (Use online invoicing software such as Invoice Machine or Blinksale)

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• Keep records of everything, preferably somewhere safe online. Use a small business bookkeeping service such as Outright

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• Eliminate paper clutter and use a service such as ShoeBoxed, where you can organize physical receipts, business cards and bills and quickly access them online.

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• Always send follow up emails to confirm matters. Consider this a verbal signature.

Get a lawyer’s advice on how to avoid collection issues. Check out FU’s Legal Basics for Every Freelancer seminar recording, and If you are looking for professional advice (and you are sick of Yahoo! Answers from 2005 as a “reliable source” to your inquiries)  check out http://justanswer.com/ it’s a great resource to get quick advice from professionals, and a majority of them are Lawyers.

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Just enter your question in the box to ask an Expert for instant customized answers to your questions. Ask follow-up questions, and approve payment to your Expert only when you’re completely satisfied with your answers. It’s an invaluable service at low costs.

Always use a contract and brush up on your negotiation skills.

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The Freelancers Union Contract Creator is a great tool because it helps freelancers, consultants and independent contractors start and build thriving businesses, while avoiding common legal pitfalls that cost thousands to resolve.

For advice on dealing with clients who haven’t paid their invoices, Freelancers Union suggests the following:

Send a formal letter requesting payment.
• Consult a lawyer for advice.
• Get a 10% discount at The Legal Edge LLC.

• Check out Freelancers Union members who are lawyers.

Consider small claims court, mediation, or arbitration.
Find out if you’ve been misclassified and consider filing this form.

• If you are an employee, you may be able to file a wage claim through your state department of labor.

Out the deadbeat and warn other freelancers with Client Scorecard.
Visit Clients from Hell for comic relief.
Get it out of your system: tell your story in The Freelance Life.

The Worlds Largest Invoice has shed a lot of light on The Freelancer Payment Protection Act, which is legislation in New York that would help independent workers collect money from their nonpaying clients. The Assembly Bill passed in June 2011, and the Senate Bill is currently in the Labor Committee.

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This will help Independent workers who work in New York State and expect to be paid more than $600 by a client. Clients who haven’t paid them will be able to file complaints with the New York State Department of Labor, which will investigate the claim. Victims may be able to receive 100% of what they’re owed, plus attorney’s fees and interest on the amount owed. This is a New York based movement, but if the bill passes it could help gain a lot of attention for unpaid Freelancers everywhere. Sara Horowitz, Founder of Freelancers Union, let us know what we can do right now to support The Freelancers Payment Protection Act:

Freelancer.pngIn the years since I founded Freelancers Union, one of the most common refrains I’ve heard from independent workers is the struggle to get paid for work they’ve done.

It’s unconscionable – and we can change it today.

We have three weeks left to make New York the first state to ensure all freelancers can collect the money they’re owed. Call NY Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos TODAY and tell him to pass the Freelancer Payment Protection Act(Senate Bill 4129). Senator Skelos, 516.766.8383

- Source

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