The True Story of How My Client Refused To Pay My Invoice and I Agreed

The work had taken the better part of a week. More than this, it was as boring as learning how to use the library’s card indexing system. Repetitive, uninspiring, completely the opposite of creative. Still, it wasn’t hard to do. So, on the crisp, bright Friday morning, I happily sent the invoice through to my client to pay, glad to get that project off my shoulders. Why, I even thought of popping down to a coffee shop and doing all of…nothing. But then came her reply. Strange, it was unlike her to comment on an invoice. She usually paid it immediately (she’s a gem, she really is).

But, this time she had a problem with the invoice. I hadn’t charged enough, she said. Eh? Not enough? Nope. She refused to pay me what I invoiced her because, she said, it wasn’t what the work was worth. At this point, the bad voices started – You didn’t work that hard. It was so boring and repetitive, a chimp could probably have managed it. You even stalled a bit, taking longer coffee breaks and indulging in that afternoon snooze. How could you justify charging any more?

Value your skills ask clients to pay what you are worth
More along the lines of what I’d hoped for in those early years. Credit: Pocketpress

But, she was right. It had taken me almost a whole week. In that time, I had to put other projects on the back-burner, invest less time and energy into my online presence and marketing, and spend longer hunched over a keyboard. Even if I’m being a little dramatic (and obviously I’m not), it occupied the better part of my mind and time during the course of five days. And why wouldn’t that be worth something?

Knowing my worth is something I’ve struggled with right from the beginning. Starting as a freelancer, I was desperate for the business, terrified of a rejected quote, and determined to undercut anyone (even the chimp).

Today, though, almost a decade down the line, things are different. I know what my time and expertise are worth, I know the value that they add to my clients, and I know that what I charge is fair and reasonable for what they get out of it. And, now that I’m charging real rates, I’m enjoying real jobs with real clients, as opposed to those who don’t care how little they pay you because they never put much value to your work anyway. Because, if you didn’t, why should they?


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