What to Do When Video Clients Don’t Pay

2 Ways to Ensure Your Clients Will Pay You

Getting paid for video production can be as painful as Steve Harvey having to tell Miss Columbia that she was runner-up. Struggling to get clients to pay on time and what was agreed upon is one of the most common pain points experienced time and time again from video pros of all experience levels (so don’t feel like you’re just not getting paid because you’re a virgin).

The matter of the fact is this – your business is your livelihood. And if you want to be able to pay the bills at your business, you need to know when you’re money is coming in.


Sure, you can go Stone Cold Steve Austin and threaten to open a can of whoop-ass on your clients, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless your trying to retire early, and broke. You didn’t bust your ass finding video clients just to lose them.

Here’s what we recommend:

Start strong with an agreement and a deposit.

Imagine: you book a project for $2,000 with a final delivery date of 1 month. Great! You pencil in your +$2,000 and fit it into your monthly expenses. Rent? Covered. Equipment rental for the shoot? No problem – put it on the card and pay it off at the end of the month in full.

waiting-to-get-paidFast forward 3 weeks, and the client has finally approved the script after what seems like hundreds of rounds of revisions. The project is running 2 weeks behind schedule…and you haven’t even moved into production yet. Fast forward another week, you were supposed to be getting paid right…about…now. Rent’s due. Those equipment rentals need to be paid for. And you’re cash broke because you haven’t gotten paid for the job yet.

Stressful, right? You don’t want to go back to the client and desperately ask for some amount of the payment – they’ll know you’re broke.

Pretty soon you’ll be taking nude modeling gigs at your nearest art school to make up for your losses. Do you want to have to sit naked on an ice cold stool with 48 eyeballs on you, drawing every lump and crevice just to pay the bills?

Avoid this social catastrophe with a simple agreement signed before you even start the job.

What’s on the agreement? Whatever your heart desires to make sure you’re getting paid. When does your client need to pay? Is there a deposit?

We recommend starting with a 50% deposit due upon signing, and the other 50% due upon completion of the project. This way, you won’t be waiting on the client to get their shit together to get paid. You’ll have a guaranteed, known income come rain or shine and can plan accordingly for monthly expenses.

Lay out the terms of your agreement and explain that before moving forward with any work you’ll just need them to sign the dotted line.

Never give up the final master

Until you receive payment for the job, your grip on the master file should be stronger than Gollum with his precious.  You’re final master video is the only leverage you have over a client to guarantee you’re getting your money.

I can’t even begin to tell you the horror stories of friends delivering a final master video with the promise of getting paid, only to be left hanging with no cash and a client pulling a Houdini.

Write this into your agreement and make it clear to the client – no money, no video. As you build relationships with clients, you’ll know which ones are reliable and which ones will be full of excuses to try to push off payment.

In conclusion – start strong with an agreement and leverage what you have to get paid.

Good luck virgins, we hope this helps you bring in the boatloads you deserve.

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