11 Tips for Freelancers to get Paid on Time

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If you are a designer or a freelancer, offering your services online, there is little chance that you would meet any of your clients face-to-face: in fact, most of them could be living in another country or a different continent and your only means of reaching them is by email, fax, or telephone. Even though making a living online has its many advantages, quite often being paid on time for the services that you offer could prove challenging. Here are a few simple steps that you could take in order to ensure that you are paid what you are owed.

If you are a designer or a freelancer, offering your services online, there is little chance that you would meet any of your clients face-to-face: in fact, most of them could be living in another country or a different continent and your only means of reaching them is by email, fax, or telephone. Even though making a living online has its many advantages, quite often being paid on time for the services that you offer could prove challenging. Here are a few simple steps that you could take in order to ensure that you are paid what you are owed:

1. When dealing with a new client, run a quick background check – this is highly recommended if you are undertaking a large project or if you know little or nothing about your new client. People and companies with impeccable record are likely to pay you on time, as long as you deliver what you promise. Ensure that you know the person, responsible for your payment, and have his or her email address and telephone number.

2. Taking a downpayment is a common practice and most designers and freelancers would require at least a minimal deposit before they commence working on the project. If the client is uncomfortable sending you a direct advance payment, you could both agree to use an escrow service, which quite a few freelance websites offer.

3. State your terms clearly before starting the work and have your terms in writing, if possible. This will help you avoid any future misunderstandings and ensure that both parties are satisfied with the terms and conditions of the contract.

4. If you are a web developer or designer, you should develop and keep the projects on your server and transfer the files to your client only after receiving payment in full. You can easily give your clients access to a password-protected section of your website, where they could see the finished project before sending payment.

5. Set milestone (scheduled) payments – you could agree on receiving payments from your clients after a major step of the project is completed. This is beneficial for both parties since the customer pays only for work done and you greatly minimize the risk of losing larger amounts of money.

6. Encourage your clients to pay early by offering a discount – if you offer a few percents discount for early payment, it is likely that most clients will take advantage of your offer and you will not have to worry about late payments.

7. Issue invoices on time – when working with individuals, you are rarely asked for invoices, but all companies need them. Find out what type of invoice your client requires and make sure to send it on time – the majority of the firms send payments only at set times of the week or the month and if you delay the invoice, you might have to wait for the next ‘payday’ to come.

8. Be proactive – send a polite reminder a few days before the payment is due. If your client is late, you should send a reminder every few days, while still keeping a friendly tone – your client might be away on holiday or have troubles raising the funds, and proper and polite communication is your best chance of getting paid.

9. Take the time to send a ‘thank you’ email or letter to a client that pays on time – being courteous will help you get repeat orders and build long-term and profitable business relationships.

10. If the payment is long overdue, keep trying to get in touch with your client frequently and insist in a very polite manner that you are paid. Again, you should give your customers an adequate time to respond since they could be dealing with all sorts of personal, family, or financial crisis. If raising the funds is the reason for the delay, try working out an installment plan.

11. Legal action is your last resort, but is often not worth it, especially if the amount is small or your client lives overseas. You could always try to find a mediator that could help you work with the other party and pressure them to make good on their promises.

When trading or offering your services online, the golden rule is to never risk more than you can afford to lose – if you are uncomfortable with the payment agreement that a prospective client insists on, then walk away from the deal. Communication is very important and you could always get together on the phone or use an instant messenger in order to find a common ground; even when a customer is late with his or her payment, do not assume the worst and be polite and friendly when conversing with them. If you happen to lose a small amount of money, it is often in your best interest to move on rather than spend time and energy cashing a few dollars.

 

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