Freelancing would be awesome if everyone got paid all the time

The check's in the mail, I swear.

Freelancers: we’re envied by office workers jealous of our ability to go day drinking any time we want; and pitied by full-time employees who laugh our constant mailbox watching and Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-like efforts to track down the money we’re owed. That number above (already up to $3.5 million since that screen capture) is a running tally of how much freelancers have been stiffed on invoices from deadbeat clients, collected as part of a civic action campaign by the Freelancers Union. And that’s an amount tallied just from yesterday when the campaign launched, getting larger by the minute. People from all over are submitting the money they’ve been stiffed, which ranges from $300 to a staggering $150,000. Has this happened to you? What do you do? I would say hire some freelance thugs to shake the client down, but then what if the thugs don’t get paid??

Sadly, this thing is kinda common in the writing world, especially for those of us who have worked at print publications that folded and therefore ran out of money (looking at you, Paste).

The point of this is to tally up what will surely be a ludicrously high number by the end, and then deliver the thing to Albany legislators on May 22 to support the Payment Protection Act, which would let you file complaints with the Department of Labor so the gub’mint can go after your shady client.

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

Once we win this fight, a request for the next campaign: Please Stop Paying Me In Checks, It’s 2012 And Those Things Get Lost In the Mail Because the Post Office is Terrible and I Desperately Need to Eat Food Sooner Than Six Weeks From Now. Not the catchest slogan, but we’ll work on it.

BONUS: here’s our friend Barry’s short song “Rent is Due,” which the Freelancers Union has adopted as its theme song for this campaign


  1. conaldarcy

    I was stiffed for $1,000 for nearly a year before my threat of a lawsuit finally scared them.

    I wish this site would list the companies who stiffed these freelancers. Libel, schmibel.

  2. Kim Tyrone Agapito

    worldslongestinvoice now shows almost $16M.. heck that’s a lot of money. I have a few thousands to contribute on that amount that’s why I am now implementing a strict contract/agreement with every client I take.

    Maybe I’ll outline those things as a support content for my post about earning via freelancing.

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