How to Make Sure You Get Paid as a Freelancer

How to Make Sure You Get Paid as a Freelancer

Freelancing is such a stupid word.

After all, we don’t work for free, and we certainly enjoy seeing payment notifications pop in, am I right? So today on the blog I’m sharing advice to help ensure your clients follow through and pay you for your services and products.

As a freelancer (AKA a small business owner) you’re responsible for not only doing the work but also following up on the accounting end of things. Although everybody likes to get paid, and some freelancers share information about their many streams of revenue, there’s often an awkward silence when it comes to negotiating payment terms and fee schedules.

Well, it’s time to speak up. Here are a few ideas to think about when evaluating your next freelance partnership.

1. Ask How You’ll Be Paid

Your contract should state how your payment will be sent to you and in what currency. For example, will there be a direct deposit transfer made to your bank account number xxxx in US dollars, do they use Paypal or will a check be mailed to your address on file?

You might think this is a silly tip to share until you find out that there are people out there who will try to pay you with rewards points, gift cards, online currency or foreign currency.

The bottom line: Never assume when it comes to finances.

Disclosure: This blog is reader-supported, which means this post contains affiliate links and advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you amazing content. Thank you! ~Angela

2. Agree Upon Payment Times

In a recent #FreelanceChat conversation on Twitter, a few friends mentioned always getting the full payment upfront before starting freelance projects. Others talk about getting 50% upfront, and 50% at completion. Some request 100% of the payment at the time they submit the finished project. It’s also not uncommon to have payments distributed at various milestone steps of a longer project or work on a retainer.

You can do whatever works best for your business, but be sure to outline it clearly during the onboarding process so both you and your client understand exactly when you expect to be paid.

3. Keep Your Accounting Professional

Sending notes back and forth about payments via DMs or text messaging looks sloppy and unorganized. Your clients are likely to mirror that same level of attention back to you when it’s time to get paid.

When doing business, use accounting software (I like Quickbooks) to generate invoices and keep tabs on your finances. As you speak to your clients about payment terms, and overdue payments, remind them that you need certain information for quarterly estimated tax preparation, end-of-year paperwork, etc. You’re running a business. Respect yourself, and in turn your clients should respect you too.

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4. Don’t Get Duped by Scope Creep

Finally, some businesses may not realize when they do this (others are masters are being sneaky!), but get familiar with the idea of scope creep. This is when you agree to do a specific task, and the client starts to little by little add on extra tasks here and there. These additional items may not seem like much at first, but they can add up quickly in time and energy.

As a freelancer, you have to decide how many “extras” you’ll offer with your services. As a freelance writer, I allow some revisions and ample communication back and forth, but if we are re-writing an entire article from scratch, it’s back to the fee negotiation table we go! Get paid for the work you do.

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As you get to know your potential client, pay attention to any red flags that make you wary of partnering with them in the first place. If your gut feeling is telling you they seem shady, unpredictable or flighty, they probably aren’t going to be enjoyable to work with and aren’t going to be reliable when it comes to payments. Think twice, and move on to the next lead. In the world of freelancing, there are no limits  — and infinite opportunities!

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