Asking For Payment Politely: 6 Tips for Freelancers

September 3rd, 2022 by Felix Cheruiyot

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In this article we'll discuss the best ways for asking for payment politely for freelancers. Being a freelancer comes with a lot of responsibilities; availability to take on projects, meet deadlines, and to be able to work on multiple projects simultaneously without sulking. It also comes with many benefits, such as having a flexible schedule and the ability to work from anywhere.

However, it’s also a lot of hard work. To be a successful freelancer, you need to be able to juggle multiple projects, manage your time, and stay productive. One of the biggest responsibilities, however, is to be able to manage your time effectively. Not only do you need to make sure you have enough time to do the work you're contracted to do, but you also need to be able to work on other projects when the right opportunity arises.

One thing you need to be prepared for as a freelancer is to constantly deal with the highs and lows, especially if you’re new to the business. If you go in with high hopes, you’ll end up disappointed, which is why you need to go with a clear mind; the readiness to face anything thrown at you. The disappointment of having to convince clients how good you are without getting the chance you need to prove your worth. You may get tired at some point, which is one of that industry’s drawbacks.

One of the biggest challenges you can face as a freelancer is getting the payment for the jobs you’ve done from your clients as at when due. If you’re not in the hands of scammers who want to con you into paying some money to claim your payment, you’re dealing with clients that want to enjoy free samples forever without paying you what you deserve for your worth.

Rafael Espinal, the President and Executive Director of the Freelancers Union, once said, “One of the biggest challenges freelancers face is not getting paid on time or not getting paid at all.” Research by the Independent Economy Council shows that 59% of freelancers are owed up to $50,000 or more for completed work, with 70% of respondents saying they have outstanding invoices yet to be paid by their clients. This shows how big a problem getting paid is for freelancers, especially when dealing with clients that are never ready to pay what they owe.

In 2020, Freelancer Map ran a survey asking freelancers about the biggest challenges they had to face. 68% admitted that landing clients was a big deal, while 35% lamented freelancing made them struggle with work-life balance. 30% of freelancers admitted to payment troubles. This further highlights how big the payment problem is in the industry.

Admittedly, payment troubles are not only meant for freelancers. Freelancing is considered ‘business’, so if you’re a freelancer, you’re a business owner, which is a problem you should try as hard as possible to overcome. As an online business owner, knowing how to overcome payment challenges and ask for payments politely may be worthwhile. This way, you can get what you deserve without throwing your relationship with your clients on the line. Before we get into asking for payment politely (our recommendations), let’s take a look at some of the payment troubles freelancers face.

Payment Challenges For Freelancers

Every successful freelancer will tell you going into freelancing full-time was the best decision they ever made. Some will even brag about what they’ve achieved in the business without properly informing you about the challenges. “No pain, no gain,” that’s it. There is no way you can achieve success in the business without a little bump here and there. You may not have to deal with the constant office battles. You’re in charge of your business, but this also comes at a cost. Below are the common payment challenges freelancers and online business owners face;

Chasing down overdue invoices

Chasing down overdue invoices is awkward, no doubt. It’s every freelancer’s least favorite thing to do. One of the biggest payment challenges for freelancers is chasing down overdue invoices and sending constant follow-up emails so your invoices can be paid. It’s a never-ending cycle that can feel like an endless treadmill.

But there is a better way to manage your finances as a freelancer, and it doesn’t require endless hours of paperwork and spreadsheet management. Instead, you can use a simple, easy-to-use software solution that will help you manage your finances and keep your business operating smoothly.

You can make this process much easier with the right planning and extra effort. Rather than spending hours going through old emails and documents, you can use a few simple tools to make the process much more efficient. This will allow you to focus on other aspects of your business and keep your mind off the stress of collecting overdue invoices.

Tracking payments

Tracking your payments on a spreadsheet costs a lot of time, which is something you can’t afford as a business owner or freelancer. This is also one of the major challenges of being in the business. You must've heard a million times that knowing your numbers is the key to success, but what if you don’t have the time to track your numbers? This is where an efficient tracking system comes in handy. It’s a piece of equipment you can use to track your transactions, similar to how a cash register works at a store. It can also come in handy for small businesses with only a few monthly transactions.

A good system lets you focus on what matters most - generating revenue and building your brand. You can generate and send invoices on-demand without requiring coding or technical skills. You can also use it to collect payments and track your transactions online and offline. You don’t need to worry about maintaining separate spreadsheets for invoices and payments or managing multiple payment gateways - a good system should automatically capture your payments and generate your invoices.

Payment processing fees

Have you seen what PayPal charges on transactions for business accounts? The fees are crazily high, and paying such fees will put you out of business sooner rather than later. These high fees are the reason some people give up entirely because they’re not just worth it. If you’re going to participate in the e-commerce, creator, or freelance economy, you need to find a way to get around these fees.

The solution is to use a gateway. A gateway is a service that allows you to accept payments through a third-party provider without dealing directly with the third-party provider. Most gateways will charge a small fee for their services, typically less than 5% of the amount you’re receiving from the payment. This means you can keep most of the money you receive from the purchase.

6 Solid Steps Involved in Asking For Payments Politely

Confirm the client received the invoice

It’ll only be professional to check with the client whether or not they got the invoice and check for any miscommunication before assuming they're stalling to pay you for the work you've done. You can also use this to your advantage if you feel like you’re being delayed for no reason; instead of assuming the worst, you can take the time to dig deeper into the matter and figure out if there’s something else you can do to speed up the process or if the client is simply taking their sweet time.

If they don’t provide you with an answer or respond to your messages quickly, consider that a red flag that they’re not interested in paying you. This will help you avoid wasting time and energy, and you can start planning your next move to get your money from such clients.

Send a professional email to request payment

If your client confirms they got your invoice, but you still don’t get paid promptly, it might be time to send them a brief email to remind them of the invoice, the deadline for the payment, and if you’ll be charging them any late fees. This will also allow you to ask if there’s anything else you can do to make it easy for them to pay you.

You can also suggest sending a check or money order to make it even easier for them to pay you. Sometimes, they may be having issues with your preferred payment method, so you may need to explore other payment methods to make the payment easier. It's a win-win situation; they avoid payment issues, and you get paid for your work.

Bonus: Use IntaSend to request for payment + automated followup email setup

Get on the phone with your client

At this point, you’re going to assume your client hasn’t been getting your invoice request and emails, so you may have to get them on the phone to discuss your payment. This may be awkward and intimidating, but it’s very important in clearing the air. You can start with something like, “Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve spoken. I’m wondering if anything is preventing you from paying me. Can we chat about that?” Or you can be more direct, like, “I’m not sure if you’ve been getting my emails, but I’d like to discuss my payment with you.

Tell your client you’ve been emailing them and trying to get ahold of them, but you need to discuss your invoice. If they’re surprised or apologetic, let them know you understand it’s been difficult, but you need to get this paid. If they’re defensive, keep the conversation focused on paying your invoice. Don’t let them get away with saying they’ll take care of it later or “We’ll talk about it next week.”

Reconsider working with them ever again

If your client refuses to send your payments after you have spoken with them on the phone, it may be the right time to consider severing ties with them. I have seen many freelancers and business owners get burned by partners who refuse to make good on their promises. Your time is better spent building new relationships with other clients who can help you achieve your goals by paying you on time. The best thing you can do when dealing with a client who refuses to send payments is to take a step back and evaluate your situation. If you have a good relationship with your client, you may want to continue working with them, especially if this is a one-time occurrence.

Explore payment collection agencies

If you have been unsuccessful in collecting payments from your clients, you may want to take this a step further by hiring the services of a payment collection agency to help you collect your payment. A collection agency will have the ability to find your clients and send them letters or emails if they don't pay their debt on time. They will also be able to contact your clients' employers and other third parties to find out where they can be found.

This will help you collect your payment faster than if you were to go through the process of trying to collect your payment on your own. Sometimes, collecting your payment on your own can be overwhelming, which is why it may be beneficial to look into the services of a collection agency.

In this scenario, you will hire a collection agency to determine the amount you are owed from your clients and then collect it from them. The only downside is that the collection agency will take a percentage of the amount they manage to collect for you.

Review your legal options

It may never have to get to this, but who knows? It’s always better to be prepared for situations like this, but you can only make a good case if you have a legally binding contract that clearly states your responsibilities and rewards. This contract must also have the signatures of you and the client to make it ideal for a lawsuit. For now, the best course of action is to double-check your work and clear everything with the client before continuing.

If this lawsuit happens, keep your cool and handle the situation as best as possible. The best outcome will be if you prove that what you did was within the scope of your services and your rights to be duly paid for your services. This can also be used as a defense if you’re ever accused of something similar down the line.

Conclusion

Nobody deserves not to get paid for their work, and that’s not something that should be condoned in your business. The best way to avoid something like this is to have a formal policy in place that clearly outlines your expected work from your employers, what to be paid, and when to be paid. This legally protects you from any potential misunderstandings that may arise in the future. A move like this will also let your clients know they can’t afford to hold your payments without valid reasons.

We understand how hard it may be to get paid for your hard work, which is why we’ve come up with this piece that discusses the 6 solid steps involved in asking for payments politely and professionally. Remember, you should be professional throughout these steps and never sound rude. Sometimes, the situation may not seem what it appears to be. If you follow these steps, you are likely to get paid, although it may be daunting.

IntaSend works with freelancers and small businesses and we enable them to send professional invoices and payment requests. IntaSend has inbuilt automated payment reminder module that helps in increasing the changes of you getting paid. Learn more on how to accept payments with IntaSend today.

Cover Photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash


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