What do I do if a client won’t pay me?
There might come a day when you find yourself in a situation where a client is overdue on payment, doesn’t respond to your inquiries regarding payment or, even worse, refuses to pay you altogether.
Although you might not think it’s a big deal for payment to be a few days late, it’s important that you reach out to the client the FIRST day the invoice is overdue. You worked hard for that money, you earned it, and you should have it on time!
When (or if) you get a hold of the client, find out the EXACT date payment will be made. If your client is local, and you aren’t confident they will actually make payment on that day, set a time to stop by the office and collect your check in person. If the client is completely unresponsive, make an impromptu visit. It’s hard for them to ignore you when you’re sitting in the foyer!
If the office isn’t close to your home, send a letter requesting payment via registered mail.
If days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and still, your client won’t pay, then you might want to work with a collections agency or a small claims court. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get that far!
Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive
In order to avoid late payment, there are some pre-project steps you can take. Here are some practices you may want to implement into your freelance business:
- Set clear expectations up front
- Get the name of the accounts payable contact
- Ask for part of the fee up front
- Offer a discount to clients who pay in full in advance
- Send invoices promptly
- Hold back creative rights
Steve Slaunwhite goes into detail in this article.
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