One of the biggest headaches for freelance writers is the need to send an invoice for their work, then wait (and wait, and wait) for payment.
Matt Saincome, founder of the punk-themed satirical news site The Hard Times, knows this, which is why he’s launching a new payment product called OutVoice.
Saincome said he started out as a freelancer himself, and he recalled that after his first assignment he had to repeatedly ask an editor to get paid. When the check finally arrived, he tried to deposit it, only to find that it bounced, leaving him with a $35 fee — way more than the $12 that he was supposedly making.
Obviously, this is a problem for freelancers, but Saincome said that when he became an editor, he realized that it was a problem for editors too. And when he became a publisher, he realized, “Wait, this is a horrible problem for everyone.”
Sure, there may be some publishers who fully intend to rip off their writers, but for many others, it’s more an issue of not making the time to deal with all the invoices and send out the checks. And if they let this slip too badly, they may end up chasing away some of their most talented writers.
OutVoice is designed to streamline all that. For starters, it helps onboard freelancers by automatically presenting them with the forms and contracts they need to fill out. Then it integrates with WordPress and Drupal (with other CMS integrations planned), so that when an editor is publishing a story, they can select a contributor and a payment amount on the same screen. Once they hit publish, the freelancer gets paid — no invoice needed, no delays.
The product supports other kinds of working arrangements, too. If a publisher doesn’t pay freelancers on a per-article basis, but instead does it by the hour, the week or the month, they can still make payments through the OutVoice website.
In our initial interview, I pointed out that some freelancers actually publish their stories themselves. Then Saincome emailed me to say that his team added a feature to take care of that, too — a freelancer can enter their own payment information as they publish, then the editor or publisher can approve the payment with a click. (Finally, someone takes my product advice!)
Saincome said the music site Consequence of Sound plans to test the system, and it’s already being used by The Hard Times itself. Just to be clear, however, OutVoice is separate from The Hard Times — it’s a new company that Saincome is founding with Issa Diao, a developer who led the band Good Clean Fun.