How to get paid on time, most of the time

Oct 2, 2014

There’s a small bit of toddler logic that I like to apply to many of life’s situations: you get what you get, and you don’t get upset. One such situation that I often apply this to is payment schedules.

While it may be hard to accept it, you are going to run into clients that absolutely do not pay you when you expect to be paid. While this is wildly frustrating, there are some measures that you can put into place to ensure timely payout.

Be specific in your contract:

By the time you are writing this provision into your contract, you should have gone over the generalities of the payment and invoicing schedule in your project proposal. There should be no surprises at this point between you and your client. They agreed to what you are asking for and when you are asking for it.

Milestone payments are key for larger projects in which you will assign percentages of payment to a task or phase in the project. If you are working on an hourly basis then the payment and invoicing schedule should include when your client will be invoiced and how many days the client has to remit payment (this should also be included on each invoice).

In no universe should you expect to get paid every two weeks, unless you have a super steady client who you do very regular work for, and even then, don’t expect it.

Use invoicing software:

If there is technology that makes your iPhone scream when dropped, you can bet that there is technology to help manage your payment and invoicing schedules with your clients.

One of our featured discount partners this month is FreshBooks. FreshBooks does it all from invoicing, to tracking time and expenses, as well as making all sorts of business reports that will make you and your accountant happy come tax time. As a Freelancers Union member you can take advantage of a 10% discount on any of their paid packages!

Use friendly nudging:

You have sent the client your invoice that clearly states how many days you expect payment by. You may have even made it as easy as possible for the client to pay through online payments. Now what? You can (and should!) either manual email/call your client, or use FreshBooks to set up late payment reminders to automatically go out at various intervals. Although reminding your client to pay up can be really awkward for a lot of people, you should never feel bad about it, you worked for that money, and not getting it to you in a timely manner is simply not okay (unless your client is dealing with unavoidable circumstances that is hindering you receiving payment, in which case they should discuss those with you).

Keep your cash flowing:

What if you have done your part to make sure your contract is specific, your clients have been invoiced (and reminded of that), and you are still unfortunately without payment? Well, rent needs to be paid, and the dog, however capable, will not feed itself. Maintaining your cash flow is where our other featured discount partner Fundbox comes in.

Specifically Fundbox will advance payment for your outstanding invoices, instantly. Fundbox integrates seamlessly with FreshBooks which makes these two a perfect match for making sure that you are on top of your game. As a Freelancers Union member you can receive a $25 credit when you start clearing invoices (which allows you to clear about $400 worth of invoices for free!).

So whether you have the greatest clients of all time who pay you exactly when you expect to be paid, or you take advantage of Fundbox to make sure you never miss a beat, you can rest assured that you’ll get paid on time, most of the time.