Every business has at least one thing in common – the struggle to get paid in a timely fashion. What can freelancers do to ensure remuneration for completed work? There is arguably an endless number of articles on the subject of getting paid on time. In this freelance work guide, we will present several tips every gig-worker should know.
Experience teaches us we must employ considerable judgment with any strategy, especially while building a clientele. You will find times when you may be better off just moving on from a malicious client. Experience is critical, so don’t be discouraged the first time you have trouble getting paid on time. Use the freelance work guide tips outlined below to avoid the dreaded problem of late payments.
Tip #1: Always be Professional
Entrepreneur.com shares insightful advice in an article that provided 9-Tips for getting paid. The first and most important tip was to be known as a professional. That should be your priority, and payment disputes are no exception.
Tip #2: Know your client
Do your homework concerning prospective clients. This is where a little time and effort invested at the outset can save you dearly. There are vultures out there, and they are always looking for new meat. That’s because they burnt their bridges with many before you. Ask around and google. We recommend joining a good freelancer organization as a starting point.
Tip #3: Write a contract
Everyone seems to agree. Put agreements in writing. You can write your contract and customize it per client using a template. Set out payment required in plain and unambiguous language, include any reward/penalty for early/late payments. Be very clear about what you expected to produce, especially if it’s a flat rate job.
Tip #4: Get a Deposit
Get a deposit before starting any work. Suggestions range from 20% to 50%. Nothing we can advise will prevent you from having a bad experience at some point with a client. You could say it is the price of success. By demanding a deposit, you accomplish two goals. You screen out some of the deadbeats, and you ensure you receive at least a half a loaf instead of none in the event of nonpayment. Remember, even an honest client can run into cash flow problems. Protect yourself.
Tip #5: Hold on to your product
You may not have any practical recourse for nonpayment upon completion, so some freelancers send their final invoice before providing the final product. On the other hand, regular customers may object to this arrangement. It depends on your relationship with your client. But with a new client, you can’t be too careful.
Tip #6: Make your invoice clear and timely
Once you are confident that your client is legit, has paid the deposit, and signed the contract, timely invoicing is the next and perhaps the most crucial step in getting paid and adequately organizing your business. This freelance work guide tip is very important.
Your invoices must be as straightforward as possible. Take advantage of your apps and concentrate on the quality of your invoice. That quality will depend on reliable recordkeeping of your work.
Apps like Freshbooks that send out invoices automatically are handy.
Use the right software to keep a record of all payments. If you think the client is ignoring you, consider bi-weekly invoicing. Try to find the right contact person. Include a reward or incentive to pay in your invoice.
Tip # 7: Flexible Pricing
One way to avoid payment problems is to employ flexible pricing, especially for regular clients. You can talk to your client about money issues before they may arise.
If you agree on a flat rate for a project, you must precisely lay out what the client will get in the contract and what happens if they ask for more work outside of these terms. It’s a good idea to have an hourly or daily rate that you will charge if the project goes over the agreed terms with a flat rate.
The alternative is an hourly or daily rate; to begin with, you will charge the client based on your time. If they have hundreds of changes to the work, no problem, you can put them on the clock and get paid.
Do not agree to a flat fee for a project and do extra work on top. Make sure your contract is clear. Any changes must be in writing and agreed upon by both parties.
Tip # 8: Join an Organization
There are many organizations, job posts, blogs, etc., that support freelancers. The Freelancers’ Union provides all kinds of support and resources for freelance writers. Its approach to payment problems is aggressive, suggesting collection notices, legal action threats, and action litigation in small claims court.
Tip #9: Litigation
Most freelance writers want to write, not keep books or send out invoices, collect money, draft contracts, or negotiate with clients. Most people don’t want to spend their time in small claims court either. In most states, there are strict laws concerning collection practices as well. If you run afoul of these, you can get into trouble. There are times it is better to take a loss and move on rather than pursue a deadbeat client. It takes time to develop discernment, but you should build relationships of trust with reliable clients over time. Keep in mind that you want to be viewed as a professional and dependable writer. Overly engaging in collection actions may detract from that reputation.
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