Despite all the odds, freelancers are strangely optimistic about the future. We work in an uncertain field and have only ourselves to depend on, yet more than seventy percent says they feel either confident or balanced about their business performance over the next twelve months. Where the media is talking about a stressed out workforce and an uncertain future, freelancers are taking it easy – demonstrating that it is, in fact, possible to have our priorities straight when we manage it on our own.
It’s not all rosy, though, as the same percentage said that they have problems with late or non-existing payments. Something as simple as being paid for the work we do could actually get in your way of enjoying a balanced life as a freelancer, so it’s time to lay down the law.
Here is a handful of smart ways you can ensure the payments arrive on time, eliminating unreasonable terms and dodgy clients.
Have a Written Agreement
When it comes to money, you should always have it in writing. Setting up a proper contract between yourself and your client is about more than ensuring the payment, though.
It should clarify the:
- Delivery dates
- Scope of the project
- Client’s address, phone number and other contact information
Freelancers who have struggled with late payments from clients – or those that never even pay at all– can fix the problem easily. An upfront payment will weed out the deadbeats. I like at least 50 percent, myself.
What do you say to those that balk at an upfront payment? “My time is valuable. An upfront payment insures you a place in my client list and schedule.”Here's how you get clients to pay up. #freelancing #business Click To Tweet
What to Do if You Don’t Get Paid
Unfortunately, this section will be interesting to a lot of freelancers and contractors. When you’re an employee and working for someone else, the roles are clear; you’re responsible for doing your job and showing up on time, while your employer is in charge of making sure you get paid. It’s simple and plain. Too bad it’s not always that simple when you’re freelancing.
When you’ve first advised your client that you’d want some of the payment up front and you receive no payment, the course of action is clear. Just tell your client that you’re not doing the work until the payment has cleared.
If you get halfway through the project and another milestone payment is required and they don’t pay, stop doing the work.
Give them a friendly reminder first, though, as it could have been an honest mistake and you want to keep a courteous tone if this is the case. One reminder is enough. If they don’t pay up, then remove them from your client list. You don’t need someone who is slow in performing the one duty they have towards you.
I like using the invoicing system through PayPal, but there are many other options out there. Look for one with automated reminders and professional looking invoice templates. It’s important that you have a system for your collection process that makes sense to your finances. When your clients don’t pay on time, or when you don’t have a proper system in place, it makes the final hunt for payments a rush in order to pay your bills on time – not to mention the mess it makes when you’re dealing with your taxes.
If sorting out your taxes has been a struggle in the past, it’s a good idea to talk to a tax attorney experienced in helping in tax dispute right away.
My last advice deals with how you present yourself as a professional. The better you are at building an image of yourself as proper, polite and experienced in the work you do, the higher your chances are of getting high-paying, trustworthy clients.
When you deliver projects that are rushed or not completed, you’re not going to attract the kind of clients that will make the payments on time. Stay polite and professional, build an online reputation with loads of great reviews and showcase a solid network of other professionals – it will scare those amateur clients away.
In a way, it’s not that strange that freelancers are positive about the future. It’s all about building your own business and making it mature with your own hard work where you don’t have to depend on anyone but yourself – and those payments, that is.
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