Freelancers have the most unusual type of obstacles when it comes to getting their clients to pay them. Beyond customers going M.I.A. or claiming they forgot, sometimes freelancers find clients refusing payment because they are unsatisfied with the work or not sure if it’s what they wanted. Yet, the work was done, so you deserve to be paid. End of story.
As a freelancer, you need to take proper and effective precautions to make sure you don’t find yourself in a position where a customer is paying you late or not even paying you at all.
1. Do Your Research
Get to know as much as you can about a client before you agree to do business with them. Get references from people who have worked with them and even pull a business credit report on a client if necessary. You must find a way to verify their financial behavior. You don’t want to bother wasting your time with someone who is notoriously a deadbeat.
2. It’s About the Contract
Never do any work on a freelance basis without having a well-structured, detailed contract. Although this takes time to prepare, it can end up saving you time (and huge amounts of money) in the end. Verbal agreements, handshakes, etc., these kind of agreements will never be enough. You need it ALL in writing.
You need to make the customer sign to the fact that, basically, they won’t be wishy-washy.
Be sure the contract specifies exactly what the payment terms are. Do they owe you money up front? When is the exact due date of the payment? And of what amount? Don’t leave any room for questions. Make sure a customer knows exactly when and how much they have to pay and signs to acknowledge this.
Include in the contract that “opinionated oppositions” will not be accepted. Specify that customers are paying for the service provided regardless of final reactions and that you are promising to deliver the service to the best of your ability in line with everything they ask.
Include in a note that if a customer decides that the original service was not what they had intended, or if they’ve changed their mind, that is to be considered a separate process and transaction. You need to make the customer sign to the fact that, basically, they won’t be wishy-washy. This video provided by the “Don’t Get Screwed Over”campaign highlights exactly what I mean by “wishy-washy”.
3. Utilize the Invoice