I’ve been a freelancer of one type or another for nearly 40 years, so I’ve needed to learn how to get paid on time by my clients. Because when you’re a freelancer, managing your cash flow can be tricky. While your expenses are mostly fixed, figuring out how to get paid on time by your clients can be a make or break situation so you can pay your own bills on time.
But what happens when your client, despite repeated requests, refuses to pay on time or at all? Or worst, they just start ghosting you and refuse to acknowledge the work you’ve completed. It’s a big problem with freelancers not getting paid on time (or ever!).. That’s where you need to set some firm boundaries and expectations with all your clients🌍💼✨
1️⃣ Establishing Professional Credibility:
In the realm of online freelancing, where face-to-face meetings are rare, building a solid professional reputation is critical. Approximately 75% of my clients come through referrals, a testament to the power of satisfied clients as brand ambassadors. A professional-looking website, commitment follow-through, and timely responses contribute to attracting clients who value quality and timely payments.
2️⃣ Client Selection Wisdom:
Upon a client’s initial approach, a thorough check of their website and social media presence provides valuable insights. A professional online presence often correlates with a client who takes their business seriously. While outright refusal is rare, sometimes easing into a working relationship with a less-than-ideal client can be prudent, starting with smaller projects before committing to a long-term partnership.
3️⃣ Clarity in Payment Expectations:
You want to make it EASY for clients to pay you. Don’t make them jump through hoops, or it will slow the process. During the onboarding process, negotiating rates and discussing billing procedures is crucial. I give clients 5 days to pay. Then I start adding late fees of $5/day. I send an updated invoice every day, so they can see the charges piling up. Clearly outlining expectations in contracts, including late fees, serves as a preventive measure against payment delays and I rarely have to add late fees.
4️⃣ Simplified Payment Processes:
Simplicity is key in the payment process. Invoicing through platforms like PayPal, coupled with automated reminders, streamlines the payment experience for both parties. Most of my clients pay at least 50% up front or for monthly retainer clients, it’s all paid up front. Then if payment is running late, they’ll get an automated reminder on day 4. If they haven’t paid by the 6th, I’ll send a kindly worded inquiry. The goal is to avoid late payments through consistent and polite communication. Always assume good intentions – you never know if there is a crisis going on with your client.
5️⃣ The Importance of Contracts:
Learn from my early oversight—contracts are non-negotiable. Investing in a professionally crafted contract provides clarity on communication preferences, billing dates, late fees, and an exit strategy. It not only safeguards against potential issues but also instills confidence in clients. If a potential client won’t sign a simple contract, that could be a red flag.
6️⃣ Effective Communication Strategies:
If faced with a consistently slow-paying client, maintaining a professional and understanding tone is crucial. Approaching the situation with empathy and giving the client an opportunity to explain often leads to a fair and agreeable resolution. If communication breaks down, consider more direct approaches, leveraging platforms beyond email if necessary.
Regardless of what type of side hustle you choose, time spent chasing overdue payments is better invested in more lucrative endeavors. Strategic client selection, clear contract terms, and a streamlined payment process contribute to a smoother and more profitable side hustle.
Clients resistant to signing contracts may not be worth the effort. These practices have not only simplified my business operations but have also ensured a steady and predictable cash flow. Here’s to another 40 years of successful side hustling! 🚀💰🎉