This post is part of a series of freelancer stories about waiting to get paid -- or never getting paid at all.

Presently 71% of freelancers have trouble getting paid by their clients and, on average, each unpaid freelancers is owed over $6,000 in income.

Read on for first-person accounts from Freelancer Union members facing this issue -- and their thoughts on how to solve it. Share your story here.

Natalie: Graphic Designer
Freelancing for: 4 years
Amount owed: $1500

**I typically request a third up front, a third mid-way and a final payment upon delivery. **

This time, however, I was working with a new client on small, quick turn-around projects and since he always paid in a lump sum shortly before or after the project was finished, I never bothered with the formal approach.

Then he hired me for a larger (business card, postcard, tri-fold, website) project. I got the 1st and 2nd payments but the balance was never paid.

I sent reminders via email, I called and left messages. No payment!

So I searched online and found a collections agency that helped freelancers called Transworld Systems.

Their rep, Vitto Mazza, used a system call GreenFlag Accelerator which sent out letters as if I had wrote them at specific numbers of days after non-payment.

The first and second letters were pretty basic detailing the account.

The third and final notice would be a warning that non-payment would harm their credit standing, and if the client still didn’t pay, Transworld would accelerate to phone calls.

Well, once the 2nd notice went out, the client called me swearing he didn’t know he owed money, hadn’t received invoices or calls, and asked how to direct deposit the balance into my account.

Transworld only received a nominal fee for this work.

All in all, I waited 120 days to get paid.

Lesson learned? Don’t feel guilty, business is business. I felt bad about taking it this far but, I had to remind myself, I’m a professional and this is a business.

**I had every right to go to a collections agency. **

Freelancers wear a lot of hats, but debt-police shouldn't be one of them. It's time to create a process and structure around getting independent workers paid on-time and in-full -- without calling in third-party muscle.

Are you ready to be part of the solution? Share your nonpayment story here.