You have worked a lot, worked hard and delivered your client a successful project. You should celebrate another job well done – but there is a problem? You have not been paid yet. Paying for completed projects is probably the least enjoyable experience for freelancers.
However, it is important to maintain a good cash flow and to ensure that you receive financial compensation for the work you are doing. There are many ways to make sure you get paid by customers, and here are just a few tips and tricks to help you.
Set Your Terms of Payment
Before starting a relationship with a customer, determine how you would like to be paid. This is regardless of whether you need “incremental” payments, deposits or redemption fees. It is a sensible option to ask in advance for deposits, as this acts as a safety net if something goes wrong. Deposits are also a good sign that your customer is reputable and reliable. It is additional security that you will be paid for the full amount in the future.
Consider Time Scales
Every company has its own schedule when it comes to payment. The standard is 30 days. Make sure your customer is aware of your own terms and conditions at the beginning of each project, and repeat your terms of payment on each invoice you issue. As a freelancer, you have the right to set your own payment term, regardless of whether you want immediate payment or make your call within 30 days.
Write Everything In Writing
To be absolutely sure that your customer respects your terms of payment, write down everything in writing before starting work. Contracts provide this additional protection and can be accessed at any time. They also give you extra weight when things get ugly.
Once the time scale for your terms of payment has expired, send a “statement” with a clear text indicating that the payment is now overdue. If you have not received payment after one week, please send another bill and clearly state that the payment is late. Sometimes, client’s need only a gentle reminder, and statements can do the trick without being overbearing.
You have the right to be paid on time. So be proactive and get in touch with your client every other day. Request payment if none of the above has worked. You want to be friendly and not aggressive. So make sure you get the right tone in every written correspondence. For example, you could say, “Hello, I just went through my bills and notice the payment is outstanding, at this point you want to keep things really easy. Remember that your client may have forgotten innocently or is sick or even on vacation, but stay on the ball and know when to start asking for payment.
Pick Up The Phone
Sometimes a call is enough to make sure you get paid. Pick up the receiver and call your customer. Keep things light and friendly. For example, you can say you are having an “admin day and call to pick up the payments.” It’s sometimes better to chat, because you can tell if the customer was busy and forgot to pay, or if they have their own cash flow problems. When talking to your customer, you can even suggest a “payment plan”, which means: He should pay for what he can afford over several months.
Don’t Be Sorry
You did the work, did a good job, and still have not been paid. Why then say “Sorry to bother you, but …” to client who have not paid yet? Be firm, but fair, and remember that the client has to tell you that you have not paid on time. Never apologize for the hunt for payment.
If you’ve tried all the above options and still have not been paid for your work or the client clearly avoids you, you should hire a lawyer or a debt collector to continue. These law firms usually take a certain percentage of the debt they use to recover, so it’s worth considering when you owe a lot of money. The worst scenario is that you end up in court. But it does not usually happen. Things are usually solved outside of courts.
Talking to other freelancers in the past, some stories have told you that they have “shut down sites” or are reclaiming work that the customer does not have access to. Although this may be a good idea, be careful. The customer could ultimately sue you for loss and damage to your own business. Be aware that not everything is so black and white.
If Nothing Else Works…
If you chase payments more often than you should, you should keep your terms very strict by claiming an upfront payment. So you do not start work until the payment has been made.
Best method to avoid all payment issues is to use Escrow.com Setup milestones so you and client both know when to pay and when to get paid. Work for clients only when they have added funds to Escrow. After completing every milestone a payment is due. Continue working if client is paying after completing every milestone. If client is not paying then contact Escrow. Escrow keep both client and freelancer safe.
Have you ever be not paid by a client? Share your experiences in comments.