You just finished an awesome project and now it’s time to collect your payment from the client. You submit your invoice and wait patiently for the money to hit your bank account. Weeks go by, and all of a sudden it’s the end of the month, your rent is due in a few days, you have unpaid bills piling up, but you never received your payment. Sound familiar?
If you’ve been freelancing long enough you’ve most likely encountered this scenario before (if not multiple times). It’s a mentally exhausting situation to be in, and the anxiety only gets worse the longer you wait for the your payment. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent this scenario.
Get paid up front
The easiest way to prevent late payments is to not allow them in the first place. There’s a few ways you can do this.
Ask for the full payment up front before the project begins
If you’re not use to doing this, it can seem a little daunting at first. However, all it takes is a bit of confidence and investment on your part. In order to charge the full payment up front, you’ll need to build trust with client. This means taking the time to fully understand their pain points, how you’re able to solve them, and showing the value of what you bring to the table. Also, you’ll need to charge per project, which means you will have to move away from hourly billing (if you haven’t already).
The 50/50 split
If you’re not comfortable asking for a full payment up front, you can always do a 50/50 split. This is where you get 50% of the payment at the start of the project and you get the remaining 50% before you hand over all the final files. It’s important to make sure that 50% of the payment will cover your time and efforts of the whole project (in case the client bails on you and never pays the remaining 50%).
Remind clients of payment dates
Another great way to make sure you get paid is to remind your clients of payment dates. All it takes is a quick email (usually sent a few days before the payment is due) to inform your client on the status of the project and to remind them a payment is coming up.
Don’t work until you’re paid
If a payment is late, stop working on the project immediately and inform your client the project is paused until the payment issue is resolved. This also applies to getting paid at the end of a project. Don’t turn in final files until you have received the full payment for the project. You hold the leverage in these situations so use it to make sure you get paid. These situations obviously require some tact, so kindly, but confidently inform them of the missed payment.
Remind yourself of the situation
If you find yourself making excuses for why you haven’t been paid yet, you may need a pep talk. In those instances make sure to remind yourself of the following:
- You’re a professional and you should get paid like one.
- It’s your right to get paid for the time you spent and the work you did.
- The client signed the contract so they committed themselves to paying you.
- You have to provide for yourself and your family, so make sure you get paid.
- Asking to be paid what is rightfully yours does not make you the bad guy.
- If a client says they can’t pay you, it’s their problem, not yours.
Don’t be late on a bill again. Start implementing these tips immediately. Your bank account will thank you.