In this article, we learn about making sure we get paid by freelancing and reducing the chances of delay in payment or no payment.
Freelancing is a dream for many because it offers multiple benefits. You will have more autonomy over work hours, flexibility to work from anywhere, more chances to dive into various fields.
However, the course of a freelancing career is often paved with many roadblocks. And getting paid late (or not at all) is one such hurdle that hits most freelancers at one time or another.
Whether you’re thinking about starting as a freelancer or you’re already working as one, the following seven tips can help you make sure you get paid as a freelancer.
Without further ado, let’s explore:
1. Do a Background Check
A big drawback of the virtual world is that anyone can portray as a big client that is going to give you tons of business. But the reality can be entirely different. So, the first thing is to ensure that the client is legitimate: they are who they say they are.
Therefore, conducting a quick background check on a potential client is a wise move. Do a background check even if you receive clients through an agency, a job board, or a referral.
If you want to get paid on time, you must ensure that the client actually exists before doing any work.
Freelance websites like Upwork make it easy to check clients’ past reviews. You can see if they have a history of late payments or unpleasant experiences. But in other situations, you need to rely on search engines and social media platforms.
Here’s how to do a quick background check:
- Search about the client on Google and Bing
- Look through the news, reports, and other mentions
- Browse their social media accounts
- Go through the mentions on Twitter
- Check the LinkedIn profile of your point of contact (POC)
By searching online, you can find out more about their business and know if your point of contact (POC) can be trusted.
Background checks will also unravel any negative press about them. If something seems off, investigate further before accepting the project.
2. Always Sign a Contract
Signing a contract can also facilitate timely payments. The contract is a legal agreement where the clients agree to pay you for the work you deliver. It reduces ambiguity and misunderstandings. Also, outlines solutions to handle disagreements if they arise.
A signed contract legally binds your client to abide by the terms of the collaboration. Therefore, it guarantees that the client will pay you on time. And if your client fails to do so, you can settle the issue judicially.
But what should a contract include? At its simplest, your contract should have:
- Description of the work and services
- Project timeline and/or milestone delivery dates
- Your working rate or the cost of the entire project
- Payment schedule and preferred mode(s) of payment
- End product ownership rights and licenses
Drafting a contract might feel like a tedious task. But having a signed contract while taking a project is for your own good. And it can save you from lots of trouble if things go the wrong way.
3. Upfront Billing (Offer Discount for Advance Payment)
Upfront billing and advance payments also help in timely payment upon completion of the project.
When clients pay in advance, it shows they’re genuinely interested in getting the project done.
Many freelancers take 30-50% in advance and the rest is demanded after completing the project. But many times, you can get paid earlier by offering an early payment discount.
Another way to convince clients is by providing an add-on service for free. For example, designers can provide extra mock-ups, and writers can offer extra revisions in return for full payment early.
With advance payment, you will not worry about delayed payment. So, you can focus on doing the work and delivering your best.
Provide some incentives to encourage clients to pay you upfront whenever possible. But whatever you decide to do, make sure you mention it in the contract. Doing so can save you from lots of unnecessary hassle.
4. Use a Time Tracker for Billable Hours
There are many benefits of time tracking. So, a reliable time tracking tool is a must for freelancers working on hourly projects.
With the right time tracking tool, you can maintain a proper record of the work done. The log of time spent on each task, along with screenshots, creates trust between you and your client. As a result, it strengthens your relationship with your client, helping you get paid on time.
By tracking time, you'll ensure you're never underpaid for the time and effort you put in. Also, a good time tracker can automate invoicing. It can bill clients as per your payment schedule. This can save you tons of time that you would otherwise spend sending invoices to your clients.
A time tracker also helps you evaluate project costs better, understand your work pattern, and improve productivity.
Among the popular time tracking software are Clockify, Harvest, Hubstaff, Toggl, and Time Doctor.
5. Professional Invoice Software
Online invoicing software makes the payment process hassle-free for your clients. Your clients can click the payment link/button they receive in their email and pay using their preferred option right away.
A good invoice software application also comes with features to remind your clients to clear their dues. So, you won’t have to remind your client to pay for your work.
Are you wondering about what you should include in your invoices?
Your freelance invoice should have your contact information, a breakdown of your work (and associated charges), and the total amount to be paid. Apart from those, you should mention the invoicing date, payment due date, and the payment terms too.
Another benefit of invoicing software is that it helps you create professional-looking invoices. And tailored invoices create a good impression on clients. The invoicing tools offer various options to customize and personalize your invoices to suit your branding.
Some popular invoicing software systems are And.co, FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Wave, and Zoho.
6. Use an Easy, Standard Payment System
When laying out invoicing and payment terms, also keep in mind the convenience of clients. By using standard payment systems, you’ll be in a better position to get paid on time. Your clients will be more comfortable paying you via methods they already use, instead of something entirely different.
Another benefit of using popular payment systems is that they function all over the world. And they offer multiple modes of payment in multiple currencies. Thus, you can get paid easily even when working with international clients.
Some payment systems popular worldwide are PayPal, Payoneer, Square, Stripe, and TransferWise. These are available in many countries and support multiple currencies. What’s more, their payment processing is quick too. So, you won’t have to wait longer to get funds in your savings account.
When you work as a freelancer, you’re most likely to get paid on a project basis. This simply means your time is your money, and you should not spend your time reminding clients to clear your invoices.
Doing a background check, signing a contract, encouraging upfront billing, implementing a time tracker, sending professionally created invoices, and using an easy payment system are proven ways to help you get paid faster.
The next article continues on this and helps you file an invoice.