It’s 2010. Electronic transfers have been around in some form or another for ages. So want to guess how many publications pay their contributors electronically?
You’ll be shocked at the answer – though if you’ve been in the freelance business very long maybe you won’t be.
I posed that question last week to the members of Freelance Success, a subscription-only message board for independent journalists, paid bloggers and other professional freelancers.
Of the 20 or so writers who answered, only one had three or more clients who paid invoices via direct deposits into her checking account. A couple others had two clients who made direct deposits. The majority had one or none.
Me? I have one – and they started making direct deposits only last month, although before that they paid via wire transfer, which is even faster though my bank charged a small fee for accepting them.
It’s not like direct deposits are all that innovative. When I worked at a daily newspaper some 20 years ago, my twice-monthly paychecks went straight into my checking account.
So why are publishers so reluctant to keep up with the electronic times?
Could it be they want to hang onto their money as long as possible, including the time it takes a check to get from the accounting department to their contributors’ mailboxes? Are times so bad they need the float on what amounts to a blip in the overall scheme of publishing industry expenses?
Are they do behind the times they have yet to automate expense management?
What other reasonable explanation could there be?
Or is my sample bad, and most writers are being paid this way?
For all the grousing I do about content mills like Demand Media, they do have one thing going for them – they use PayPal and other online payment mechanisms to pay contributors, though in many cases writers must earn a minimum amount before they see a dime.
Given what I think of content sites, you know things are bad when I’m siding with the Demand Medias of the world.
The next time you’re negotiating with a new publishing client, speak up. Ask to be paid via direct deposit. Strike that. Demand to be paid via direct deposit. It’s time we freelancers took a stand and dragged publishers into the electronic payment age.