Invoicing Tips for Freelancers: What to Do When Clients Won’t Pay

More and more people are taking their skills and expertise and moving into the world of freelancing. Whether you’re a writer, a business consultant or a branding expert, working for yourself with a variety of clients is often the preferred way to earn money.

However, freelancing also has its downside, and most people who freelance would say that not getting paid is high on their list of complaints. Even when a contract is in place stating a specific payment date for services rendered, freelancers can wait months and sometimes even years to see that income.

In most cases, a simple email and follow up to your client’s accounting department does the trick. After all, even within the best-run businesses, things like invoices can get lost in the shuffle. However, there are those clients that either assume that you’ll simply let the matter go or that you don’t have the know-how to ensure that you get paid.

If you’re a freelancer who has a client that’s ghosting you regarding your payment, try some of these tips to get their attention and to get the money you’re owed.

Read All Contracts Carefully

When you’re signing a contract to provide a service for a specified payment amount, it’s vital that you read that contract carefully, read it twice, and even consider having an attorney look it over if the payment you’re expecting is substantial. There should be a clear and definitive payment date, part of which should be upfront and part of which is usually when the work you’ve provided is finished.

It’s also important to negotiate a “kill fee.” This means that if the client, for whatever reason, decides not to accept work you’ve already performed, then you still receive some compensation. Also keep a log of all hours you work on a project and don’t hesitate to ask for a clause specifying the company pays legal fees if you wind up in court.

Invoice Factoring

Some freelancers can find themselves owed tens of thousands of dollars, and clients can come up with many reasons not to pay or are just slow about paying. One way around this without going to court is a service called invoice factoring. You sell your unpaid invoice to a factoring company that pays you a percentage of the invoice, usually 70 to 80 percent. This allows you to continue operating and paying off immediate debts/costs you may have. Once your client pays, the factoring company will release the rest of the funds, minus a fee.

Because invoice factoring companies have more resources than the average freelancer, it can be an effective and smart choice to use one so that the capital you need isn’t held up by your client.

Taking Legal Action

Ideally, this is your last resort, as hiring a lawyer who specializes in breach-of-contract cases is not going to be cheap. You will have to pay a retainer up front, but if the original contract includes coverage of your legal fees, you’ll get that back if you win your case.

However, in almost every instance, a simple letter from an attorney threatening legal action is enough to have your client scrambling to write a check.

Remain Professional

For freelancers, not receiving your payment in a timely manner is one of the most frustrating aspects of the job. You get mad, and rightly so because you’ve held up your end of the bargain, so why won’t they? As infuriating as that is, it’s imperative that you remain professional.

Avoid attacking your non-paying clients on social media. While this does give a head’s up to other freelancers who may be considering working with them, it also paints you in a bad light. Other companies in the industry are likely to see your tweets and Facebook posts, so keep it professional. Let the lawyers do the dirty work if it comes to that.

As a growing industry, freelancing has changed the lives of countless people and has allowed them much more freedom in their careers and their personal lives. However, business is business, and there will always be glitches along the way. If you’re struggling with getting your clients to pay on time, consider these tips to get the money you’ve worked so hard for.

Jackie Roberson is a content coordinator and contributor who creates quality articles for topics like technology, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the Internet community.