Do you find yourself constantly wondering why you aren’t getting paid? Do you hate that you can’t rely on certain clients to pay on time, meaning some months your budget seems impossibly tight even though you’ve turned in all of your work? I’m not the type of person who enjoys tracking down people and asking for money. In fact, I find it downright awkward hounding people for money even though I’ve done the work and I am absolutely entitled to payment.

Most freelance clients are not intentionally dodging the issue of paying you. Most of the time they are simply wrapped up in their own schedules and deadlines and just too busy to remember. If you’re feeling stuck and searching for a way to nicely ask your clients to just freaking pay you for your work already, then keep reading for some simple ways to get that money.

  • Send a friendly reminder – With the holidays approaching, you have the perfect excuse to follow up on those pesky unpaid contracts. Since it’s almost the end of 2016, you can’t be blamed for wanting to settle your finances and start fresh in 2017. So how do you nicely ask for your money? Here is a short message you can send to clients that haven’t paid:Hello Insert Client Name,I hope you are enjoying your holiday season! As 2016 comes to a close, I am working to settle my invoices from the last quarter before I go on break. My records show we still have a balance remaining on your contract for the following work:Insert Project – Insert Date You Returned the Work – Insert Money Owed
    Insert Project – Insert Date You Returned the Work – Insert Money Owed

    If you could send me the payment via Insert Method, I would really appreciate it. Please let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to continuing our work in the new year!

    Insert Your Name

    If you’re reading this after the holiday season, here’s a more generic message template you can personalize and send:

    Hello Insert Client Name,

    I hope your work with Insert Project/Company Name is going well! I wanted to check in with you about payment for the project I worked on recently. My records show that there is an outstanding balance for the following work:

    Insert Project – Insert Date You Returned the Work – Insert Money Owed
    Insert Project – Insert Date You Returned the Work – Insert Money Owed

    Please let me know how you would like to pay, and if you would like me to send a formal invoice. I enjoyed working with you, please let me know if you need assistance with any future projects!

    Insert Your Name

  • Send PayPal Invoices – This tip is pretty simple. PayPal is an easy way to keep track of your freelance finances. However, be warned they do take a percentage of your money when you send professional invoices. That being said, if you have a few different clients and they are all on different pay schedules (by project, every week, or monthly) things can get pretty confusing.Take control of your payments by sending PayPal invoices. Then, all you will have to do is check your invoice list to find the accounts that have “unpaid” next to them. PayPal even has a handy “Send a Reminder” feature where all you have to do is click a button and a reminder email is sent to the client who hasn’t paid. No need to write a note, feel uncomfortable, or do much at all.

Tips for Solving Payment Problems

  1. Use a Time Tracker – Have a client that doubts your hours? Use an online tracker (I use TopTal – they don’t charge for the tracker and it’s easy to use) to log your hours. All you need to do for most trackers is click a button when you start working and then again when you stop. Many of the trackers allow you to log your projects separately so you can track your time on each one independently, and will even take computer screenshots as you work.When you go to submit your hours to a client, attach the time log for that project to your invoice. That way, they can see exactly what you did and when you did it. If you hate feeling like you constantly need to justify the time you spent on a project, this is a great way to prove you are billing clients fairly with solid evidence.
  2. Ask for Benchmark Payments – If you have a client that typically forgets to pay, or a new client that you aren’t sure will send the money when you deliver the work, then ask for partial payments. Depending on the project type, you can break the work up into deliverable chunks and attach a value to each portion.Yes, it’s extra work for you. Trust me, it’s worth it. I lost out on hundreds of dollars in one week because a client disappeared once I sent in my deliverables. They felt free to bother me with questions and change requests at all hours of the day and night, called me to ask me to do extra work, and then lied when it was time to pay. Once I caught on, poof! they vanished. So the extra 20 minutes of creating a deliverables schedule and payment benchmarks is totally worth it.
  1. Use XPlace – This tip is more about maximizing your payment than anything. While other platforms charge hefty processing fees, XPlace payments are strictly between the client and the freelancer (typically through PayPal). Instead of paying 10% or 20% for the work you do just for the luxury of using a specific platform, eliminate the platform’s cut and keep the money you’ve earned.
  1. Create Your Own Invoice – One of the simplest ways to get paid is to invoice the client as soon as the work is done. It’s helpful to have a standard invoice template ready to go so you can fill it out and send it when you send your final deliverables. That way there is no separate message that needs to be sent, and your client is sure to see the invoice (they need to open the message to get their finished work after all).Your invoice should contain the following information:
    • Your name
    • Your business contact information
    • The details of the company or client you worked for on the project
    • A list of the work you did, dates you turned it in, and price for each piece
    • Information on types of payment you accept and the account details so they can pay you (like the email address associated with your PayPal account)

Freelancing can be an incredibly fun and freeing way to create a positive work/life balance. However, clients are only human, and paying you might not be their top priority. Ensure you get your money when you need it without having to chase clients down or stress about asking for your fee by using one (or more) of the tactics above.

Any seasoned freelancers out there who have payment tips? Have you ever found yourself stuck with a client who seems to disappear when you ask for your money (like I said, I’ve been there)? Share your tips, tricks, and horror stories in the comments below!