Getting Paid From Freelance Work

The first thing anyone learns from doing freelance work is that the paychecks aren’t that steady at all. Even when you complete freelance work for a client, it could be up to 30 days before you receive your payment — and that’s if the client isn’t late! Getting paid on time is a challenge, but there are ways that you can make the process just a little easier.

Establish payment terms in your contract

If you don’t have a contract for all your freelance work you run the risk of not getting paid on time. Never agree to do a job over email and assume you’ll get paid; instead, have a couple of contract templates at the ready and fill them in with the basic job information, then make sure the client agrees on the contract before starting this work.

If your business model is one of voluntary payments from those who use your work, it can be a little trickier.  But many freelancers are quite successful at it, in spite of some users who don’t pay.  Visit to see how to accept donations online.

In your contract, you need to specify how payments are to be made, when the payments must be made, and what happens if the payments are late. Many contracts include what is called a “net-30” clause, meaning that your clients must pay in full within 30 days of receiving the finished product, or you have the right to charge late fees.

Invoice after every job

If you are new to the freelance world, you might ask what is an invoice and why is it important? An invoice is a document that lists the services a business or an individual provides to a client and establishes an obligation on the part of the client to pay for that service. Issuing an invoice is important to make sure you get paid on time and you keep a record of the transaction.

The invoice is the second-most important document in your freelance arsenal, after the contract. Make sure to send out an invoice after every job, even if the client pays you right away. This protects both you and the client, and gives you a record of both completed and outstanding payments.

Let your clients pay you from anywhere

When’s the last time you wrote a check? Chances are, your clients don’t write checks that often either. The hassle of writing and mailing a check can set your payment back weeks, so get your money faster by giving your clients an easy way to pay.

The best methods of payment, of course, are payments that can be made from anywhere. Paypal is often the go-to option, although its fees sometimes make it unattractive to busy freelancers. If you’re the type of freelancer who works with a lot of international clients, sending money with RIA is possible from anywhere in the world, and the money can go straight into your bank account.

Choose an option that makes sense for you and is easy for your clients.

Don’t be afraid to follow up

If you have unpaid freelance work on your balance sheet, you need to follow up with the clients who owe you money. If a client is late on a payment, or is approaching the 30-day deadline, don’t be afraid to follow up and ask for what you are owed. Otherwise, you’ll never get it.

Also, remember that payments are rarely late because clients don’t like you or didn’t like the work. Nearly always, the payments are late simply because the clients got busy. You’ve procrastinated on paying bills yourself, but I bet you’re glad to get those reminders from your utility company that your bills are due. Think about your clients the same way. A friendly reminder is often all it takes to get you your hard-earned cash.

Cut bad apples out of your life

Every once in a while, you’ll come across a bad client. These people just won’t pay, even after several reminders and threats of late fees. If you can get the money you’re owed, great; if not — and it does happen sometimes — you have to just move on and look for better clients. You can still use the work you did for them in your portfolio, even if you never see a penny for it.

These are the risks that come from freelance work. It can still be rewarding if you see this coming and know to handle it, and therefore make the freelance work you love also the work that pays your bills.