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The main thing that you as a freelancer get out of the relationship is, of course, payment. Sure you might be getting exposure, experience, and learning new skills, but seriously – payment tops it all by miles.
There seems to be this loose idea in freelancing circles that finding dud clients who never end up paying is part of the experience. I disagree.
Payment problems can quickly turn the best of relationships sour, and afterwards, it’s very difficult to get back to the working relationship you had before. Payment problems show up in a variety of different ways.
Payments are Late and Require Prompting
This can be unpleasant, annoying and possibly a sign of a bigger issue. Catch it early and very politely let the client know that it isn’t OK. If you don’t want to come across as too blunt or untrusting, blame it on the accountant!
“Hey …, I was just checking in on the status of my invoice 12345. We agreed on weekly invoicing but I haven’t seen it in my account yet. (My accountant’s on my back as usual about regular payments!). Can you let me know?”Image Credit (CC)
Don’t worry about how believable is it – even if your client doesn’t believe your accountant is on your back, hopefully he’ll take it as the gentle and friendly reminder that it’s intended as.
If you notice this happening more often, it might be worth a quick chat with the client to find out what’s going on. Maybe the invoicing cycle can be adjusted, or maybe you move to an online billing platform like Upwork.
Excuses Start Coming for Why Payment Hasn’t Been Made
- Check is in the post
- Forgot online banking PIN number
- Lost online banking key-fob
- Miscommunication with ‘accounting department’
- Travelling and have no access to make any payments
- Sent the payment to the wrong person by mistake. Need to wait until it’s back in my account to send it to you
- I tried to ring you but couldn’t get hold of you
- The accountant wasn’t in this week
- Personal problems
Seen it all, heard it all. If it happens once or twice with a previously good client, give them the benefit of the doubt. When excuses start to stack up into more and more of an implausible story, it’s time to think again.