Freelancers are no strangers to intermittent paycheques. Unfortunately, there are some hard truths that come with working for yourself and invoices that go unpaid is one of them. The issue is especially pertinent in creative industries.
It's a problem that photographer Kristiina Wilson wants to change. She’s just launched The Shit List, a website that allows freelancers to name and shame companies who haven’t delivered payment as promised. The website states it’s a “directory for creatives to publicly list truant and unpaid accounts, as well as research new clients.”
Based in New York City, The Shit List notes that more than 70 per cent of freelancers in the city report they've had trouble getting paid for work. While we don't have exact stats on the state of the industry in Australia, it's certain the problem extends beyond just NYC.
Fortunately, the city is starting to do something about it. Just a few days ago, legislation was passed in the state to provide basic protections for freelancers. Mandatory 30-day payment terms, non-payment penalties and payment agreement protections are covered under the act, for invoices over $800 USD.
The act comes after reports last month that Condé Nast (publisher of Vogue, Allure, Vanity Fair and more) was changing its payment terms.
According to Fashionista, the publisher added language to its freelance contracts, allowing for quicker payment in exchange for a discount on the agreed payment rate. A vendor memo collected by Fashionista reads:
“At the top of our project list is an accelerated payment option, which will allow you to get paid more quickly when a small discount taken off the invoice is accepted."
It’s a pretty crappy thing to do, which is why The Shit List is important.
"I think for a long time those of us in fashion have been too embarrassed to admit that unpaid jobs effected [sic] us because we were all stunting and acting like we were doing great when we weren't. It's so easy to look fabulous and busy on social media,” Wilson told The Fashion Law.
“At this point, when so many amazing artists I know are waiting tables and walking dogs and scrambling to pay their rent because Vogue Arabia doesn't want to pay them ANYTHING, I have stopped caring about burning a bridge or flipping a table.
"I hope we can all come out and feel OK saying look, I'm having a hard time. We are all having a hard time. Let's get together and stop faking it so that things can start getting better!”
You can check out The Shit List below.
Illustration by Twylamae.