As remote workers, many of us are freelancers or sole proprietors that work for a number of different clients. Yes, we have the freedom to work where and when we want. But we are also in an very vulnerable position when our invoices are paid late – or not at all. Going after the money can be a time consuming and expensive process… sometimes not worth the effort depending on the amount of the invoice. So what can we do?


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Tips for getting paid by your clients

  • PUT CONTRACTS IN WRITING. Make expectations, payment terms and deadlines clear.
  • DON’T WAIT TO INVOICE. Don’t wait until the end of the project to send your invoice. Invoice for small chunks of work or short milestones along the way. That way payments won’t become too late, and you’ll know sooner rather than later that you have a deadbeat client.
    • SET A FINANCE DAY. Personally, I dislike doing finance stuff. So I set up a checklist for myself and I run through it every Monday (I call it “Money Monday“). Going through my checklist every week keeps me from getting behind on anything important for my business.
  • PRE-BILL. Some people pre-bill their clients and make them pay before the work is completed.
  • USE AN INDEPENDENT ESCROW SERVICE. These are services that collect the money from the client and release it to the contractor when both agree the job has been completed. Upwork is one of the more popular services that people use for this (and one of my personal favorite apps).
  • SEND A CERTIFIED LETTER. Sending the invoice via certified letter prevents clients from saying that they didn’t receive the invoice.
  • CALL THE CLIENT. Instead of sending emails, pick up the phone and confront the client directly. It’s harder and a lot less fun to do, but far more effective. Keep the reward in mind (i.e., getting your money).
  • TALK TO A MANAGER. If the client is non-responsive, see if there is a manager or someone at a higher level you can speak to. It especially helps if you have a contract.
  • OUTSOURCE INVOICE FOLLOW-UP. Just like there are independent escrow services, there are also services that will follow-up on late invoices for you.
  • ADD A LATE CHARGE. It’s a lot of work to follow-up on late invoices. Don’t be afraid to charge for your time. Late fees can also motivate clients to pay.
  • SHAME PUBLICLY. As one of your last resorts, don’t be afraid to go public with your problem. Sometimes calling someone out in public can be very effective, and sharing your experience on social media can be extremely effective. Just be sure to stay factual, and professional.
  • LEGAL RECOURSE. Legal recourse can be difficult across borders, but if you are owed a lot of money, it can be worth the fight.
  • WALK AWAY. Depending on the amount you are owed, sometimes the best thing to do is walk away and chalk it up to a learning experience.

 


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Graphic design by Alfred Boland

 

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