Freelancers – Dealing with Clients that Don’t Pay

Freelance work can be rewarding in many ways. You can set your hours, you can wear casual clothes, there’s no-one to answer to except yourself, and you can charge a rate that reflects your expertise. What’s not to love? Well, as it turns out, running your own business as a freelancer can be challenging – where your business acumen isn’t one of the stronger suits in your skillset, you may struggle to find new clients or even to secure payment from the clients already on your books. 

The trouble is that everyone knows freelancers need exposure. The next client will want to see an up to date portfolio before committing to hiring a freelancer, and that means the portfolio has to be ready and raring to go (with no gaps in the timeline). This mere fact alone can open the floodgates to clients who will try to con work out of you without paying, citing some bogus reason for demanding either a full refund or a hefty discount – all because they know you need the work to go ahead, paid or otherwise. What can you do?

Invoice Every Client

An invoice is a wall you can put your back against (see invoicing for freelancers for more info). When clients question the breakdown of your services or try to suggest a discount based on their take of your services, a robust invoice can help you to highlight the agreed pricing strategy. 

Without an invoice, you may be reliant upon a series of emails in which prices were discussed. And you may find that throughout those communications, the client does not at any point agree to the listed price or payment date. Where the client believes that the price you have presented and listed payment timeframes are not final, you are going to run into difficulties. 

You can cut out any issues over the payment details for any given transaction by generating a professional invoice that tells the client how much to pay, the due date for payment, and all accepted methods of payment (see what else to include in an invoice). Why allow the client to wriggle free from their obligations when you have kept up your end of the bargain? Be sure to look into your invoice options before you bill your next client.

How to Convince Clients to Pay

Depending on where you are in the world, there may be legal ramifications for clients who do not settle their invoiced bill on time. You will need to research the laws in your country, but recent changes to the law across the globe have seen governments back traders in their fight against lousy clients who fail to pay. 

One of the ways that governments are helping freelancers has been to introduce legislation that allows the trader to charge a fee for late payments. Of course, you wouldn’t necessarily have to go as far as to invoke such laws where they are available. Simply reminding the client that legal charges may be added to late payments should be enough to convince the client that they should stick to the due date. 

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