How can freelancers prevent from not getting paid?
From learning how to spot bad clients to getting a contract in place before starting a project, here are 9 answers to the question, “As a freelancer, how do you prevent from not getting paid?”
- Learn How to Spot Bad Clients Before You Work With Them
- Take Matters into Your Own Hands and Be Persistent
- The ‘free’ in Freelancer Isn’t Do You Any Favors
- Request a Deposit Or a Written Agreement
- Payment Outside the Platform
- Avoid Unleashing Your Work Until You’re Paid
- Check On Your Client’s Legitimacy.
- Advance Payment
- Get a Contract in Place Before Starting a Project.
Learn How to Spot Bad Clients Before You Work With Them
I’ve been freelancing for over six years and have had my share of clients who didn’t want to pay. With most of these, I got gut feelings about them before we started working together and I still pursued the relationship. Looking back, I’ve noticed that lots of these clients share a few common denominators. They’re usually in a hurry, give me a deadline, state how much they want to pay, expect endless revisions, and don’t want to place a deposit.
The more red flags they raise, the less inclined I am to work with them. Always trust your gut. If you think you’re dealing with a potentially bad client, chances are you’re right.
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Take Matters into Your Own Hands and Be Persistent
There are a few ways of approaching the problem of not getting paid. First, you should understand that there are steps to making your client pay. I’d highly recommend that the first step is to stop working. If you notice that your client is late with payments, refuse to deliver any further work until you’re paid for what you’ve already done and delivered. If that doesn’t work, you can then proceed to “step 2”, which is being persistent.
Constantly messaging your client about payment isn’t something you should be afraid of. Of course, if you set a fixed date for payments, don’t bury them under a thousand messages, and be patient! If the pay date comes and goes, you can then try out a new tactic to prevent not getting paid, and that’s to hire a lawyer and send them a warning letter. Go to these lengths if everything else fails, but refusing to work further and being persistent while keeping it civil is what does the trick most of the time.
The ‘free’ in Freelancer Isn’t Do You Any Favors
As a business owner I find it much easier in getting paid for agreed work. It’s just strange how still to this day, companies efficiently pay their invoices consistently without any chases.
I still do consultancy work outside of the business daily operations and I find I am treated differently than I am as a CEO. Payments for work done can be fobbed off, emails ignored until you are metaphorically banging down their accounts door with your 5th and final ‘please pay me’ email!
What I do now and should have done back in the days when I only done Freelance is send the invoice with late payment terms, of 5 days. No company will incur extra cost unnecessarily and always plan on paying you, just the extra charges stops them dragging their feet.
Another tip I picked up from those days was to check if I knew anybody who worked with/for them before. If they were notorious late payers, I would submit an invoice to be paid before work is done. Works a treat.
Request a Deposit Or a Written Agreement
Before you begin any project, request a deposit from the client. The deposit amount should be agreed upon between the two of you, but it should cover at least a portion of the total project cost. This ensures that you are paid for any work you do, even if the client chooses not to pay the remaining balance. Make sure you have a written agreement with your client outlining the scope of the project, the total cost of the project, payment terms, and the completion timeline. Both parties should sign this document, which should include contact information for both parties in the event of a dispute.
Payment Outside the Platform
The clients who are mostly spam or who don’t want to pay will never give you an authentic, verified payment portal. Rather, they will ask for transferring money outside the platform. They might give you the reason for easy money transfers via Google Pay or other means, or even say that paying outside will help them save the platform deduction amount. This is a big red flag, and you shouldn’t avoid it. A professional client will always have a verified payment portal and won’t deal with you outside of it regarding money matters since they don’t have that much time. They will rather use platform services to make sure they are within the rules and regulations.
Avoid Unleashing Your Work Until You’re Paid
Nothing is more upsetting than discovering your unpaid labor on another website. Protect your work and hold onto it until you’ve been paid to avoid this. For instance, before you start working, request a down payment of half the fees. Use watermarks if you are a graphic artist and hold off on publishing an elevated version of your work until you’re confident you’ll get paid. The project can potentially be modified and sold to another client. It can also be uploaded to your website or used as an example of your work. Your efforts will not be absolutely in vain if you do it this way.
Check On Your Client’s Legitimacy
If you are working online and doing contract work for remote clients, then it is necessary to create a plan to avoid payment issues. Freelancing has become the norm so, when any client is approaching you for a contract firstly put a stamp to no unpaid samples, when you are starting new as a freelancer you have to share samples to build the portfolio However when you are an established you should clearly state no for unpaid samples. Apart from this, when a client invites you for an opportunity you have every right to not respond immediately. You have to enquire about the clients and the history of the client with past payments and work by this way you can choose genuine clients and avoid payment issues.
While it would be great to trust everyone at their word, Freelancers often don’t have the luxury of giving their trust blindly. One way to help alleviate the fear of having a client dodge payment is to take some form of advance payment up front before starting the job. This payment can be seen effectively as a down payment for services rendered. It should be no more than half of the agreed upon amount. During your work period be sure to stay in frequent contact with your client and keep them updated on the status of the project.
Communication will be important to both parties. For the client they’ve already paid a portion of the work cost and they will want to remain informed. For the Freelancer, a client that becomes increasingly dodgy may be a bad sign. In the latter case, be ready to stop work on a project until you confirm a clients status. This practice isn’t perfect protection. But, it will help make sure that you get something for your efforts rather than nothing.
Get a Contract in Place Before Starting a Project
As a freelancer, you should create a contract with your client before starting any work. This will help you to prevent from not getting paid in the future. Create a contract that outlines the scope of work, deadlines, deliverables, payments and responsibilities. This will help you avoid any misunderstandings about what is expected of both parties in the future.
It can outline the specific details of a transaction, such as how much you’re going to charge, when you want payment and what happens if one party doesn’t live up to their end of the bargain.
Jack O’Carroll, Founder, Honest SEO
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