Freelance invoicing 101 – six tips to make sure you get paid
As an independent professional working from home, you need to make sure you get paid for all the work you do.
From time to time, a client may be tempted to disappear once you submit the required deliverables. After all, you live miles away from them and can’t trace nor sue them to any authority. This is how a fraudulent person reasons.
To avoid such disappointments, here are six tips to make sure you get paid for your freelance work.
1) Invoice regularly
By sending an invoice to your client, you’re informing them that it’s time for payment. Make it a habit not to submit completed work and keep quiet. Consider the fact that clients are human, too, hence they can easily forget their obligations of paying you. So, be proactive and send a detailed invoice immediately after you covered a predefined milestone.
Alternatively, you can send invoices periodically, if that’s what you agreed with the client. You may do it weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, as these are convenient intervals. In contrast, daily is quite tiring and quarterly is too long.
Above all, confirm that your invoice contains all required information (your name, contact details, project title, date of completion, and amount due). Also, instead of designing your invoice from scratch, you may want to use universally recognized formats.
For this reason, look for a reliable online freelance invoicing solution that provides a variety of templates. These kind of tools make your invoice look professional. Your client will also view you as a serious freelancer who means business. This becomes hard for them to even think of defrauding you.
For corporate clients, you need to create tax-deductible invoices. So, ensure the invoicing software you subscribe to offers this feature.
2) Sign a contract
One of the main reasons why online clients walk away without paying freelancers is the lack of a legally binding agreement between two parties. But you know better; don’t approach freelancing this way.
Before working on any assignment, ensure your client has signed a contract. Should they break it, you can confidently file a lawsuit since you have supporting documents. Without evidence of the existence of a contract, the courts may not proceed with the case.
For best results, use universally accepted wording to draft a decent contract. Get templates online or hire a lawyer to help you. Remember to include the list of tasks assigned to you and the related payments. These details will help bail you out in case of a disagreement between you and your client.
3) Ask for upfront payment
To gauge your client’s commitment to pay, it’s best to ask for some upfront payment. You can set the amount to say 30% or any other appropriate portion. Don’t avoid this by thinking that it’s rude. In fact, this is a way to get the assurance that the client is serious with the job at hand and that they’ve set aside money for payment.
If the client accepts by sending you a down payment, your trust in them increases. This means that you’re now more confident that they’ll settle the balance without unwarranted push and pull. Once a client pays a partial amount, they feel obligated to clear the balance. This isn’t always the case with those who’ve not remitted any money to your account.
4) Accept different payment methods
Give your clients as many payment options as possible. This means that you must include popular methods like credit cards, mobile money, wire transfer, electronic wallets, and cryptocurrency, among many others.
Understand that some clients find it bothersome to use a payment method they’re not acquainted with. If you insist you must get your cash through mobile payment and yet your client is a diehard fan of e-wallets, you’re brewing strife.
Most importantly, ensure that all your options are safe enough to use. Both you and your employer need the guarantee that cash won’t be lost in the process of transferring from one account to the other.
5) Conduct a background check on new clients
You don’t want to blindly get into a working relationship with someone whose character you don’t fully know. You may indeed be thousands of miles apart, but the world is a global village.
It may happen that the same client has previously worked with other freelancers. What is their opinion of this client? Did they complete their job successfully and get paid on time? Did the client unceremoniously end the contract and refused to pay? Does the client behave professionally?
These are details you can investigate from online reviews. If every other freelancer got into payment problems with this client, you better run away and don’t convince yourself that your experience will be any better.
However, don’t make conclusions after reading an isolated comment about the client you’re looking forward to working with. There’s still a chance that a negative review may just be a baseless rant from a disgruntled or malicious web user. Instead, try to see if the negative reviews come from genuine people with no collusion between them.
6) Boycott work
Suppose you do a full month’s work and the client doesn’t pay by the end of the month. If you continue working as usual in the next month, your client may see you as a gullible freelancer, hence they’ll continue taking advantage of your innocence or tolerance.
For this reason, whenever payment delays and there’s no clear communication from the client, hang up your boots. Let them know that you’ve paused working until you get your pay. After all, you need to pay bills and eat, otherwise, you won’t manage to work.
If the client is genuine and needs the work done, they’ll send you cash with immediate effect. But if they’re out to defraud you, they’ll have lost it the moment you stop working.
Just remember to be professional and polite as you send payment requests. Don’t use harsh language. Your client may get offended and vow never to pay, even if they initially had the intention.
Make sure you get paid for your freelance work
There are several tactics you can use to ensure you get paid for your freelance services. Try these tips and see what difference it makes in your freelance business.
When you’ve done all that you can and the client remains adamant, go ahead and seek legal action. By doing so, you may get generous compensation for the damages you suffered. And, this will also be a lesson to those entrepreneurs who mishandle freelancers.