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News & Insight

Problems Getting Paid? Fileship Is A Platform For Creatives To Ensure They Get Paid For Work

By Kishore Sawh on April 5th 2016

It’s funny how the dynamics of business and problems shift as you progress in any career, and photographers are the furthest thing from exempt. To photographers starting out, no clients to speak of, there’s often this idea that only if more clients were had would life just become easier, more opulent – better, and trouble-free. This isn’t quite the case.

As you grow, acquiring more clients, typically your costs will also rise. You may need different shooting gear, more gear; better and faster computers and ever-more complex storage solutions. You may also have a greater accounting burden and less free time, so the idea that more clients means fewer problems just makes me want to put on a big yellow shirt and recall the words of the late-great-posthumous-truth-speaker, Biggie, and quietly whisper in your ear: “Mo Money Mo Problems.”


Sure, you need clients, and better to need to beat them off with a stick than to have to beg for their attention, but it must be addressed that getting paid as an artist can cost you, and it’s also often problematic. It’s a fact that artists often struggle to collect on payments owed to them for their work, and this prevailing motif holds true for photographers, videographers, musicians and all sorts. Some people suck, period, and will receive the fruits of your labor and walk out on the tab. This is precisely the problem Fileship is hoping to solve.

Fileship is a relatively new business, the brainchild of creators Olivier Lesnicki and John Holt, and literally went from idea to materialization in weeks; up and running about 1.5 months ago, and is catching the attention of creatives all around who are already using the service. The absolute purpose of Fileship? 

In a nutshell, Fileship a platform that ensures creatives hand over their work, and definitely get paid for it.


Has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? Both creators are creatives in their own right, and Olivier with whom I spoke today, a Belgian now London-based, says it was just about 2 months ago a friend in Paris commiserated on the plight of having done work and for a client who has received the work then proceeded to become a ghost, avoiding payment. This was their idea of a solution.

How Does It Work?

The idea is simple, and so it is in design and execution – there are no frills. When on the site it’ll look as empty as a hermit’s address book, with a few words, and fewer fields to fill in. As a creative, you upload your file, put in your PayPal information, and you’ll get an email with a link. Share that link with your client, and then the client visits the link. The link takes them to a page where they pay the designated amount, and like a key, the payment unlocks the file to be downloaded. That simple. You can upload pretty much any file type, and currently, the file-size limit is 5GB per file. This is because they use Amazon web-services which limits that size, but that’s going to change.

For now, it’s also PayPal only, the site takes a 4% commission in addition to the typical 3.5% or so PayPal requires. It probably stands to note that upon the release of Fileship the company was contacted by WeTransfer to talk about various things, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if WeTransfer debut’s something similar soon, but I think the guys have hit on something here.


Fileship also offers a referral program which you can learn more about here, and really the program was created as a ‘thank you’ to the early adopters but is still running. it allows supporters to earn a cash percentage each time someone they’ve redirected to Fileship sells a file – and that’s not one off, but each time.


I really do think this is something special, and that the guys have found a sweet spot that covers a sore spot for creatives of all kinds. Of course, there are other protocols to have in place to avoid payment problems, and this is where many creatives have found a deposit system to be their friend. Of course, you can always write formal legal contracts which offer you protection, and, in some instances you’ll want to bring across an appearance of higher professionalism than this allows – that said, there’s no denying the market for this.

[REWIND: 5 Important Things You Must-Have Before Starting A Photography Business]

Check out Fileship here, and let us know if you’d like any more information and ideas on how to avoid payment issues with clients.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Thomas Keenan

    would be nice if it can prevent screenshots too

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  2. Lakin Jones

    7.5% in total fees (when used with paypal)

    Not sure how this better (or different) than telling a client their photos will be delivered upon final payment.

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    • John Sheehan

      I have to agree with Lakin Jones. I’ve had no problem waiting for final payment before delivering the images. For me at this time it seems like an extra layer I don’t need to farm out. Someone else might find it useful, though.

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  3. Paul Empson

    I now only present images once the client has paid. Media companies especially don’t like this but it’s just the way business has changed.

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  4. Mike Upton

    This is a really neat idea. For me (pretty new) just getting someone to pay ANYTHING is an uphill battle. “We LOVE your wedding photography, but we can’t pay more than $300 for it. Tell you what, if we give you permission to use it in your portfolio, would you do it for $300! WHY NOT?!”

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    • Kishore Sawh

      haha you’re not alone Mike. It really plagues creatives at all levels. I think for certain things, and even certain genres this will benefit greatly – especially for those starting out or who sell single prints or licensed files.

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    • Alex Kartashov

      I remember telling my girlfriend about a shoot I want to go try and do and she goes ” why are you trying so hard? It’s just a picture”. It seems that most people these days don’t appreciate the value of photographs and the people who take them, how much work it is (even, and maybe even especially, for amateurs like me). Like that one story goes about a guy who had his portrait drawn and when the artist asks for $200, the guy goes “why $200? You just sat there for 20 minutes and all you did was draw”, so the artist says “it took me 20 minutes to draw you, but it took me 5 years to get to a point that it only takes me 20 minutes to do so”.

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