6 Tips to Help You Get Paid as a Freelancer
Being a freelancer does grant you a certain sense of freedom. But with freedom comes a great deal of financial responsibility, since only a single client who fails to pay can sometimes put both your business and your livelihood at risk.
One of the worst-case scenarios is having your job finished on time, delivering the final product, and then spending weeks or even months waiting for the check that never comes.
Research has shown that 50% of freelancers have experienced this at least once, for different reasons.
To make sure that this situation is just the exception rather than the rule, here are six tips to help you get paid regularly and on time.
Get to know your client
Statistics say that 31% of US freelancers believe that they can find a gig in less than a day. But, there is no need to rush in saying yes to every potential gig offered.
Before negotiating the job with a potential prospect, be sure to scan them thoroughly, and use all resources available to get the information you are interested in.
Besides using their own webpage as a source, try browsing through The Better Bussiness Bureau, as well as though consumers reviews and complaints. Also, search for the mentions of your client online, especially coming from their employees or other freelancers.
If there is anything that makes you feel uneasy about the potential client, but you would still like to take your chances, asking for a deposit is the least you can do to make your payment more secure.
Ask for a deposit
Asking for an upfront deposit is a standard practice in every business; still, many freelancers skip this important step in negotiating their payment. This is especially the case with beginners, who don’t want to make waves and risk the job by making too many demands from their clients.
Nevertheless, making a deposit a part of the arrangement is the best way to secure your payment. On the other hand, by receiving a deposit, you will show your commitment to finish the project you agreed on, so a down payment secures both of the sides involved.
The amount of deposit may vary from 25 to 50%, and interim payments are a good idea too.
Get it in writing
Signing a contract ensures that both a freelancer and their client will deliver what they agreed on, and gives the freelancing business an air of professionalism it deserves.
Like any other contract, this one needs to be detailed and perfectly clear, defining everything from clients expectations to the payment methods and terms. A well-written contract should include completion and compensation dates, contract amounts, and even revision limitations.
A good way to provide yourself with additional payment insurance is by inserting a clause that you won’t be delivering the final product or the creative rights before being paid up.
If you are new to contracts and don’t have a clear picture of where to start, you may want to browse through different customizable legal binding contract templates which are available online.
Although many clients don’t require an invoice to make a payment, you should send anyway, and do it without delay. Besides giving your freelance service more reliability, it also serves as a good reminder that payment is due, especially if there is a precise payment date specified on the invoice.
Even though many freelancers invoice monthly, sending a weekly invoice or billing right after completing a job is the best way to ensure regular payments. There are many tools available online where you can set up profiles for your repeated clients, or bill them automatically.
When sending your client a signed contract, be sure to attach a deposit invoice, and do it also when informing your client that a job is completed and that a final product is ready to be delivered.
No check, no work
If your invoice is sent promptly, and the payment is way overdue, why waste your time and energy when there are many other projects you could get into and get paid for?
Certainly, you should follow up, contact the client, and ask about the status of the payment. Sometimes, the late payment is not a matter of intent but a pure omission, and it can be resolved with a polite email or a phone call.
Think of the ways you can make your services accessible, both when it comes to your rates and payment options.
There are clients who are ready to pay but cannot afford a full package of the services you offer. Still, they would settle for a smaller range of services, with the rates calculated accordingly.
Accepting multiple payment options, such as PayPal, credit/debit cards, and eChecks will make it easier for your client to pay in the way which suits them the most.
By following the steps mentioned above, there will be no misunderstandings between you and your clients about terms, conditions, and expectations. This does not guarantee that the payment process will always run smoothly, but it offers you a good basis for dealing with a non-paying client if legal action is ever needed.
Last modified: May 7, 2019