Even though many people dream of going freelance they often forget that it is a very challenging career choice, unlike a regular 9-5 job you are not certain that you will add money to your account at the end of the month. The biggest problem for any freelancer is not getting paid on time, or heaven forbid not getting paid at all. In this post we have added some suggestions and guidelines for making sure you will always get paid for the work you complete.
Often freelancers are more worried about providing a great service than they are about getting paid, many of them simply assume that if the client is happy with the job you do that then that equates to getting paid. However the truth unfortunately looks very different, in a split second a project that has taken many hours can go down the drain leaving you searching through the couch and jeans pockets for pennies that will pay the rent for next month.
Discuss payment before project start
Money is one of those touchy subjects, not everyone feels comfortable asking for money. However remember that the reason you are working freelance, or working at all is so you can pay your bills at the end of the month, there is nothing working with asking about payment in the same meeting as discussing the project details.
You should never start a project before the payment details have all been discussed, if the client gives you a suggestion that is too low then tell them so, remember you are running a one man business here and as such need to make sure you are getting paid what you deserve.
This can really not be said enough, you need to have some form of contract with the client, otherwise you have no proof of actually having completed the project. On a personal note I once wrote an article and sent it to the client, never got paid however two weeks late I saw the same article on his website, since we didn’t have a contract I had no way of proving that I actually wrote the article. If you don’t know how to draft a contract look through Google there are a lot of sample contracts out there.
Contracts are beneficial for both you and your client, so work with them on the contract, make sure it is a win-win situation for both of you. Trust me a good contract will go a long way down the road. Of course make sure to keep a copy of the contract incase the client suddenly change their mind then you can refer to the contract.
It used to be that freelancers were paid either through wire transfers, by cheques or even in cash, however we are in 2013 and there is no reason why you can’t get paid through the internet, my recommendation is using PayPal, since they are the most reliable and consistent.
The great thing about PayPal is that once the client transfers the money they are automatically added to your account, yes it does take a few days for the money to get from PayPal to your account, but it is much safer than many other payment methods.
Keep Emotions at Bay
Every freelancer will tell you that they are passionate about a current project, sometimes you will want to sit up all night to work on a project, it can be near impossible for you to remove yourself from a project. However remember that you are still on a schedule, and you are most likely working on several projects at the same time. You need to be able to look at a project for what it is a paying gig and not your new baby. Don’t tell the client that you will make changes for free unless you absolutely messed something up, don’t keep reworking parts of your project because you are emotionally attached.
Let the client know if they are late
As with discussing payment upfront many people don’t like telling clients when they are late with a payment, but you need to remember, it’s all about cash flow. If you don’t get paid then you can’t pay your bills, and so on… You need to device some sort of follow-up strategy.
Often a simple email reminder is all it takes for the client to remember that they still need you pay you, if your email doesn’t work don’t be afraid to call them and let them know that you are still waiting for your money.
Being a freelancer can and should be a profitable undertaking, remember that since you are working for yourself you have no one but yourself to make sure bills are paid on time. If you feel we forgot something feel free to drop us a line in the comments below.