Let’s face it, as freelancer you’re busy designing, developing, or writing and don’t always have the time you need to follow up with clients who are late to pay their invoices. Your clients are busy too and paying you may not always be on the top of their priority list. It’s up to you to stay diligent to make sure you get paid to keep a good stream of income. This is key to survival as a freelancer and will help you avoid the feast or famine problems.
Be clear about your terms
Take time to carefully write your payment terms in your proposals, contracts and invoices so your clients are clear about when you would like to be paid. If this is left up to your clients you won’t have a good way of estimating when you’ll receive payments and may thin your bank account for some time until you receive your payment. This is especially tough when you have large projects with a significant amount of hours you’re waiting to get paid for. Most of you don’t have the luxury to wait 60-90 days to be paid for a 50 hour project. That’s the nature of being a freelancer.
Get paid before you begin
Having a down payment ahead of time can help you cover expenses for contract work, purchasing assets to start a project, or to simply fill an income gap while you’re waiting to receive final payment from a recently completed project. Down payments not only help you balance your income, it is a financial commitment from your clients before beginning a project. This tells you they’re interested and ready to get started with the work. It sets a positive tone for both you and your client and lets you hit the ground running when you’re ready to begin.
Follow up right away
Be very diligent and timely when following up on your overdue invoices. If you ask to be paid within 30 days, follow up with your client on day 30 to ask when you’ll receive payment. This says that you’re paying attention and expect to be paid according to what you’ve outlined in your agreements. Being passive and waiting a week or two to follow up on overdue invoices can send the wrong message saying you’re not following your own policies and can set wrong expectations on future projects.
Always say thank you
A small note of appreciation always goes a long way and can end a project on a positive note. Establishing good habits when it comes to sending and receiving invoices says that you’re a professional and appreciate the opportunity to work together with your clients. They’ll remember their experience working with you and are likely to work with you again if the experience was a positive one.