The freelance lifestyle is an attractive one. But with all of the flexibility comes the reality that work might not always be as regular as we
Now more than ever, ensuring that you get paid on time is key to maintaining your freelance success.
After all, if you’re not getting paid, then you’re losing the incentive to work. Not to mention, you spend more time chasing your money, rather than socking it away for the future. Sadly, this is the reality for a lot of freelancers—forever stuck on the pay schedules of clients. However, if a particular client is falling behind with unpaid invoices, there are a few steps you can take to nudge them along.
If you’re struggling with keeping up with outstanding invoices, then here’s how you can remind your clients to pay them:
Understand Your Clients Pay Schedules
Now, before pursuing alternative routes to get paid from clients, your first step is to understand your clients’ pay schedules.
Overall, this means knowing the typical turnaround for when they pay freelancers and then following that process. For example, many clients follow a pay policy called “Net 30,” which means that an invoice will be paid 30 days after the invoice date. In some cases, that turnaround may be net 15, net 60, some clients may even pay you immediately once an invoice is received.
Unfortunately, clients have the right to change pay tables based on their normal payroll processes. However, as a vendor, you can lay out your payment terms before getting hired, and then work with your client to find a happy medium. That said, net 30 is a typical turnaround time to expect for freelance work.
So, for the sake of this article, imagine that your client follows a payment plan of net 30. You’ve already sent your invoice a month ago, and after checking your invoice tracker, you still see that the bill is outstanding. Now you can follow up with an appropriate first response.
Always Start with a Polite Email
You never want to get angry with a client, so your best course of action to remind them to pay you is to always start with a polite email.
Whether it’s a new client or a long-time contact, after you send the invoice—and after a few days of no response (give them a bit of a grace period)—simply send them a short message that notifies them of the invoice’s presence.
Here’s an example you can use:
“Hey there (name),
I just want wanted to check in and let you know that I sent you an invoice for the assignments last month. Please let me know that you received it and when it can be processed.
Thank you again for the opportunity and I look forward to hearing from you.
Short and sweet, right? More often than not, a basic email like this is all you’ll need to light a fire under them. And in some cases, you can resort to sending multiple emails—spaced a few days apart—until they respond to you with a resolution.
Email is a laidback, non-confrontational way to let a client know that you need to get paid. Sometimes, clients forget or invoices get lost in the shuffle of online mayhem. It’s best for you to be as patient as you can be, but if things continue to go unrecognized, you can take more serious action.
Make a Phone Call
There’s a chance that emails are falling on blind eyes, and if that’s the case for your invoices, then it may be time to make a phone call to the client.
Many freelancers may be reluctant to talk to a client over the phone since a lot of communication happens online, but by making a phone call, you break down that barrier of distance that a lot of clients may rely on to skirt payments. Chances are, you’ll have your client’s contact information on file, so with that, find the number for their office or personal line, and give them a ring.
In most cases, you won’t actually have to speak with them—many of these calls go straight to voicemail or to an assistant—but your only mission here is to leave a message with the same polite tone you had in your email. You can let them know that you’ve been trying to reach them, and that you would like for the invoice to be resolved right away. Remind them that you’ve sent the invoice over, and that if they have any issues, they can email you or call you for questions.
Even if they do answer the phone and you have the chance to speak with them, remain firm on your goals, but also maintain your composure as a professional, patient freelancer. Traditionally, getting paid as a freelancer takes time, so you can’t expect clients to compensate you in split seconds. However, you should always stick up for yourself and urge clients to pay you within the terms that they agree to—there’s no excuse for that.
If All Else Fails, File a Claim or Take Legal Action
Finally, if a client doesn’t respond to emails or phone calls, your last resort is to file a claim or take legal action against them.
As a courtesy—if you feel like it—you can send them a collection letter that states that if they don’t pay within a certain amount of time (which your invoice should already be outstanding by a substantial amount), you’re going to send the dispute over to a collections agency. Once again, in most cases, serious action like this will pressure them to pay up. On the other hand, if a collections letter also gets radio silence, you can file a claim with your state’s labor departments.
For instance, the Freelancer’s Union offers a great breakdown of filing claims for client-nonpayment, so be sure to explore what routes you can take to ensure that you get what’s owed to you. In some instances, you can even seek reparations for the income you’ve lost due to unpaid invoices, and be paid additional fees for pay periods that are neglected for long stretches of time.
Of course, nobody wants to reach this point with a client, but you can rest assured that you have options out there to advocate for yourself, rather than taking a financial hit.
Keep Track of Your Invoices with AND.CO
Most freelancers deal with issues on nonpayment because they lack the right support to track of invoices in the first place.
There’s no reason why your income should suffer due to lack of preparation or unresponsive clients, so to help thwart the setbacks, make sure to sign up for AND.CO. You can easily create and send invoices for clients in seconds. Plus, you can send invoice reminders to those contacts who are always a little behind—AND.CO does the work for you so that you can focus on what really matters.
AND.CO takes the guesswork out of when you’ll get a paycheck, so start using it to your advantage.