The gig economy is flourishing, but that is no promise that you’ll always come across fair employers and businesses that will gladly pay for your services, and in time.
While most articles you’ll find out the many perks and benefits of working as a freelancer, one of the main downsides is definitely the struggle to ensure payment every single time.
Let’s face it, the real world is not always fair, and you need to find a way around that particular issue so that you can stay true to your freelancing career and preserve your preferred lifestyle.
Politeness during the negotiation and solid reviews not being proper indicators or promise of timely payment, you need your own strategy that will help you stay solvent and financially independent whenever you start collaborating on a new project.
Here to help you meander through the less wonderful waters of freelancing are the most effective tips to make sure you’ll be paid for every project you deliver.
1. Deposits are a godsend
Although not every project or every business calls for this particular approach, it has almost become a standard in the freelance industry nowadays precisely because of how convenient it is to establish trust.
If you can start working trusting you’ll get paid, they might as well pay a portion of the fee upfront trusting you’ll get the work done. After all, trust goes both ways, and you should make it clear that your word is as good as theirs.
Let them know that a deposit is only a guarantee that you’ll start work on the project and that they’ll deliver the rest upon the completion of the work they’ve ordered from you.
Get it in writing as early as possible, and clearly define the terms of the engagement before you start the project at all.
2. Craft your own contract
While we’re on the subject of getting things on paper, this time in a digital format, you need a contract to make sure that your legal bases are covered from every possible perspective.
Even if you’ve dealt with wonderful people so far, there’s no promise that you won’t find trouble down the line with people who aren’t too eager to cover their debts towards you.
Sometimes, legal action is necessary, and you need to have everything in writing.
As a freelancer, you can rely on legal binding contract templates as the core of that agreement, and adapt them depending on your needs, services, and expectations, as well as the legal norms in your country.
Of course, while templates are useful, it’s best to have a legal professional go over your chosen document and possibly give you advice on how to make it ironclad in case you need to take your client to court.
Hopefully, it will never get to that, but even in case of miscommunication, you’ll always have a legal document they can consult in order to understand the conditions of the project.
3. Schedule your invoices
At the very beginning of your freelancing journey, you might be tempted to actually invoice upon finishing a project or only once per month.
You’ll find that some freelancers invoice even more haphazardly, which means that you don’t get paid for a very long time, thus jeopardizing your financial stability and your cash flow.
Even though you’re an individual, think and act like a business entity and schedule all of your invoices as frequently as possible.
That means that you can start invoicing as soon as you and your client sign the aforementioned contract.
Since most typical invoices give your clients thirty days to complete the payment, you’ll ensure that you’ll get paid as you wrap up a certain portion of your workload, if not all of it for short-term collaborations.
Plus, this leaves you time to send gentle reminders that will help them stay on track with their payments, and you’ll be able to focus on work instead of chasing after your hard-earned money.
4. Master the art of negotiation
The beauty of freelancing is that you can work under your own terms. But the downside is that you need to make sure your clients agree to those terms.
If you need more frequent payments, or if you would prefer to be paid in increments during the month, you need to be able to let them know clearly beforehand.
That means that you should be able to talk about money openly and transparently, and as directly as possible.
Also, it’s best to discuss the terms of your collaboration via email, so that you’ll have a written record of your requests and preferences, as well as their replies.
Also, using email allows you to process any emotions you might have and avoid expressing them so that you can keep things professional even in case of an unpleasant situation such as a late payment.
This gives you time to choose your words and perhaps become more tactical in seeking regular payments.
5. Use a direct debit system
Many modern-day companies use a wide range of automatization tools to fast-track their payments and to make sure that their clients really do respect their financial obligations.
Why not follow in their footsteps and automate the payment process, especially if you’re working on a regular monthly retainer with the majority of your clients?
That can be done very simply with the help of a direct debit system that ensures regular account withdrawals for each of your collaborations.
Their willingness to join such a program means that they are happy to automatically pay for your services.
Your duty would be to notify them of each payment they are expecting, the amount they will cover, and the date when the money will be collected.
In a sense, this allows you to leave “the money talks” to a software platform, while you can focus on your relationship with your client.
As a freelancer, you’re dealing with many different responsibilities, from handling your own invoices, negotiating the fee for each project, all the way to keeping your clients happy.
However, getting paid is one of the greatest challenges any freelancer will face, so make sure that you’re ready to tackle this issue – and hopefully, these tips will be of help!