5 ways to avoid working with clients who don't pay
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We all know the freelance life is, shall we say, a little hectic. You have to be your own business development manager, your own editor for your blog AND your own cheerleader when times are difficult. But, you know what makes the freelance life even more hectic? Not receiving your payments on time (or never at all).
There are always legal actions that you can take when a client does not pay. My advice though is to not wait until the point that you have to implement legal action. There are some things you can do to prevent dealing with lawyers (or the Minister of Labor if you live in Dubai, like me).
Below are a couple of tips to follow to make sure you get paid:
1. Play FBI detective
Got a call from a prospective client? Get his/her full name and do your research. Search for the company/individual on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc. Just google him/her!
We live in a world where information is available to the public eye so take advantage of it. Ask friends around if they know this person and if you know other freelancers, ask them for feedback.
Believe me, freelancers do not forget clients that do not pay thus, ask around!
2. If you like it, then you should put a ring on it!
I know it’s a hassle but, make sure you send an agreement and have it signed before starting any project. Professional clients handle contracts all the time so they’re use to it.
If somebody gives you a hard time when signing it like “Habibti, why are you sending me this? You don’t trust me?” or “Mija, ¿Qué paso con la confianza?”
I have used to get this response when I lived in Mexico and now hear a similar variation here in Dubai all the time. The answer is simple: No. When it comes to business, this is protocol. Put a ring on it. Period.
3. Ask yourself, am I truly happy with these terms and conditions?
I remember that when I started freelancing, I use to say yes to a lot of terms that I was not happy with. That’s a big mistake, especially if it’s a long term project.
Maybe at the beginning you will be okay with the policy of getting your paycheck two months after, but after a while you might get tired of it because it hurts your budget and you end up either quitting the job or in bad terms with the client.
To avoid becoming resentful toward your clients, make sure that you are happy with all the terms and conditions that you both set for the job.
4. It’s all about following up
When you send your invoices, make sure to follow up. It’s a common practice in Dubai to send what’s apps for everything so do that as well. If they don’t pay the invoice, then send them a “kind reminder”.
If that doesn’t work, what do you think? Should you still work? I mean, if you don’t pay your rent to the landlord, are you allowed to stay in your apartment? I think the answer is pretty clear.
5. Wear a suit and be ready to play lawyer
There are many ways you can go around when you finished a project and the client does not pay. I’ve heard almost everything by asking other freelancers. Some of them have an excel sheet when they check how many times they have contacted the accounting department, some others have contacted management directly when the accounting department started to ignore the calls, some others (in Dubai) go to the Minister of Labor with the agreement on hand to file a complaint and some others even get lawyers.
Of course, lawyers are only worth it if the amount that they owe you it’s worth the investment of getting one. If its a small gig, it’s going to be more work from your end and you’ll have to play lawyer. It sucks but hey! It’s okay. Take a deep breath and remember that every business owner has to go through the same thing. It’s part of being an entrepreneur so put on a suit, get that confidence up and give a big smile to the world!
You are still standing – and you are definitely getting that payment.
What about you? Have you ever been in this situation? If you’re a freelancer, please share your thoughts! Also if you have any extra advice to share with fellow freelancers, please feel free to share it.