Late payments are a freelancers’ worst nightmare.

Once you finish a project for your client and send the invoice, the waiting game for the client to pay begins. Some clients pay on time, but there are times the client would hold off payments until the last minute or just make you wait.

While you know clients for freelance tasks vary in terms of how they pay and how they treat their clients, you deserve to be paid for the work you have done for the client. So, what do you do when your client is late in paying your fee? Should you mail them? Call them?


Here are some great tips on how you, a budding freelancer, can make sure you get paid on time and prevent any issues from occurring.

Research about your client or freelance site

Let’s face it.

Freelancing sites are everywhere.

If you are just starting as a freelancer, you are spoilt for choice as to which sites to sign up for and apply for jobs. However, not all of these sites and its clients are trustworthy and well-funded.

Before signing up to any freelancing site or project, check their background by looking at the reviews or testimonials left by past and current freelancers. If the site and the client have a great feedback, you can be assured they will treat you properly and pay promptly.

Fix Your Billing Scheme

The next thing you should now consider is how you will charge your clients for your services.

You can choose from payment sites like Paypal to online talent platforms like Upwork or Fiverr to collect the money for you. However, there are pros and cons in using these options; but, it is important to pick one that would go along with your credit card due dates and your other expenditures so you can pay them when the funds arrive.

You can also seek the help of accountants to help you with your billing scheme and help you organize your savings and expenses.

Create a Contract

Before you accept a project, speak to your client and create a contract that details every aspect of the project: from its content, expectations to payment terms. You can even add clauses that cover late payments and inform clients that you will charge an interest fee for late payments depending on how long the delay will take. However, make sure your contract with the client doesn’t sound too threatening, especially on payment terms.

Just like regular employment, good working relations between clients and the freelancer is built on trust. You must prove your worth first before you can add extra clauses for precautions.

Regardless, having a contract could help you with your records and if there is any issue that may occur during or after the project.


Know Your Client

Aside from creating a contract between you and your client, it is also ideal you speak with your client regarding their payment policies and schedules. Learn how long it takes for the client to check into invoices and how it pays its workers. Learning these things can help you budget your monthly salaries and make allowances should there be delays in the payments.

You can also use the information your client gives you to identify the person who handles the payments and speak to them if there is an issue with your payment.

Know Your Rights

When you submit your work on time and the client gives their feedback, it is your right to get paid on time. This is your livelihood. If the clients do not pay you, you won’t be able to pay your bills and other expenditures.

Stop yourself from thinking that following up on the payment is rude and chase the clients for it when they are late. Your clients violated your agreed terms without due notice and it is your right to know why and get paid.

Do not hesitate to follow up when the grace period for payments has already elapsed.

Reach Out Through Emails or Automated Reminders

When following up on late payments, you can first start off by sending an email or automated reminders. You need to make sure these letters sound both friendly and firm so your clients know you are waiting to get paid. If friendly e-mail reminders don’t work, send a serious letter that indicates the terms of your agreement with the client.

Alternatively, you can use automated tools, like Boomerang or FreeAgent, to write your invoice reminders and send it automatically once the invoice becomes overdue.


Call Your Client

When you have emailed your client several times (or sent out automatic reminders) and they still haven’t paid, you should not fear to ring them up on the phone and talk to them about the payment. If they resist, calling them every day can help pressure them to pay you.

If you are not that confident in handling such calls, you can hire a virtual PA to do it for you. Although you need to pay them for their services, PAs adds more credibility to your reputation and let your clients know you mean business.

Ask Legal Help

If you still could not get your client’s attention and your work remains unpaid, you should seek out legal assistance on the case. However, going to this recourse does have drawbacks because you would need to know how much is owed to you, your success rate if you bring the case to court and the price of hiring a lawyer.

As another option, you can also seek the aid of your freelancing site so they can investigate on the issue on your behalf.

Practice Discretion

Of course, before you go into a panic with late payments, it is best you practice discretion when dealing with late payments. Like you, your clients are only human and may be busy with other tasks that prevent them from paying you. Approach them gently and ask if there is a problem.

Getting paid on time as a freelancer can be challenging, especially if you are uncertain if your client is trustworthy to pay you for your work. Do your research, learn more about your client and establish a contract before you say yes to a job. When they do not pay, handle it like a pro and follow up with your clients with a professional attitude.

Once you have done all that, your clients would see how professional you are and pay you punctually for every project you do for them.


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28 replies on “How Freelancers Can Make Sure They Get Paid on Time?

    1. Yes indeed! It’s possible to get things down by contract but 1) the terms could be long (=4 months) 2) besides the contract, plus some companies just lengthen the time by sending you the “EM” (entrata merce, or number you have to put on your invoice) a month or two later…!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. It is very annoying when firms take a long time to pay but thankfully, I haven’t had much bad experiences. Once was when an agency kept on delaying and I had to email them constantly (every 2 weeks, so definitely I wasn’t too extreme) before they paid a couple of months down the line. It’s sad that freelancers often receive late payments and I think you are right to suggest putting in late fee clauses.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I have my fair share of bad experiences with bad clients but that is a small percentage compare to the huge number of great clients I have.


      1. That is good when the good outweigh the bad by far. I checked my emails with that bad client, and it took almost 4 months for him to pay. I had almost given up on receiving it and had sent him very angry emails but luckily he finally did.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. thanks Kally – a couple more:

    and don’t give anything out for free – at least get a ‘refundable deposit’ up front
    oh, & don’t fall for this line: “I guarantee there’s lots more work for you after this”

    Liked by 1 person

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