Getting paid as a freelancer can be one of those things that put you off or that really makes you happy, depending on your situation and also your clients.
In fact, after having featured out what type of contract you are going to use for your freelancing work, the second best thing to do is to figure out how to get paid as a freelancer.
Do not underestimate this part of your business and take your time to reflect and understand how you really want to manage it: the sooner you find a model that works for you, the better it is. At the end of the day, you just want to work and as soon as you’re done, getting paid as a freelancer as soon as possible. You certainly don’t want to waste time looking for the best ways to get paid as a freelancer once a job has already started because this would be a huge waste of time, time that you could use to do something more productive and rewarding.
If you want to know how to get paid as a freelancer, what tools are the best, and what methods to use, keep reading because we’re going to share a few interesting insights with you, to simplify your freelancing career and make sure your freelancing work get paid immediately at the delivery.
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Top Advice to Get Paid as a Freelancer
We want to share with you a few advice and tips we’ve learned over time, to make sure you get paid for your work as a freelancer and you don’t have to waste precious time chasing payments.
1. Put Terms and Condition in your Freelancing Contract
Too many freelancers think that adding the payment terms into their contract is harsh and can ruin the business relations with a client. Well, this can be true for a certain type of clients but the majority of companies that deal with freelancers also deal with employers and have no problem at all in receiving a contract where the payment terms are clearly specified.
Writing down your payment terms and conditions is a way to protect you from not getting paid as a freelancer; aside from rates for your freelancing job, the contract has also to include provisions for what happens if you don’t get paid on time.
This applies both to one-time projects and retainers and long-term consultancies: you need to be sure that your work will be paid and your time won’t be wasted. So please, make sure your freelancing contract is accurate.
Remember that clarity is everything and being crystal clear will save your business, and will also allow you to understand if the client you’re working with is serious or not.
You can read more about how to write your freelancing contract in our article: How to Write a Freelance Contract + Free Example to Download
2. Always Ask for a Deposit
If you’re getting a one-time freelancing job, make sure you ask for a deposit that is also called “a kickoff project deposit”.
This will set up the foundations of your working relationship and it will clearly set the precedent that if you’re not paid as agreed you don’t work.
Require your deposits when the contract is signed and make sure you include this in your contract as well, as a legal binding: if your client refuses to pay you the deposit, do not start working on the project.
3. Define Checkpoints and Set a Timeline
This is strictly connected to the point above: aside from just asking for a deposit, also make sure you set up checkpoints to get paid as a freelancer during the different stages of your work.
The amount to request depends on the size and length of the project and the checkpoints depend on your business. On a general note, this is what may work for you:
- 25% – upon signing the contract (see above)
- 25% – upon approval of the first draft
- 50% – upon completion of the project
If you can put a date to each checkpoint is even better, because it shows your commitment and clarifies everything in advance with your client.
it goes without saying that these checkpoints and the timeline (if existing) have to be added in the contracts, to make them legally binding.
What happens if a client doesn’t pay?
Hopefully, you will never have to face a situation where your client refuses you to pay even in the presence of a contract.
But if this happens, the first to do is to get in touch with them in writing: keep it friendly but firm at first, and wait a few days. If nothing happens, chase them again in writing and explain the consequences of their actions. In the meantime, stop working.
If they keep ignoring your notes and perhaps disappear, seek legal help: have an attorney send your client a letter or hire a collection agency to make calls and send letters.
Hopefully, your client won’t act so bad to force you suing them but in case that happens, make sure you know your rights, and you have the right professional resources at your fingertip.
The Best Freelance Payment Methods to Get Paid Fast
To make easy for your client to pay you, you need to choose the best freelance payment methods. These are some of the most common and the best: we recommend you are willing to accept all of them because this will open up way more business opportunities.
1. Electronic funds transfer
This is possibly the best payment method to get paid as freelancers. Once you’ve sent your invoice, your client can transfer money from their bank to yours: the transfer takes up to 3 days and the cost for the client depends on their bank. The fee depends on your bank and your client’s bank.
Another easy to use and common payment method for freelancers: once the work is done or you’ve sent the invoice, the client can deposit money on your Paypal account. You’ll get the money instantly and then decide whether to leave them there or move to your bank account. Bear in mind: for every payment you receive, you need to pay a transaction fee, based on the amount you receive. Paypal works with the best freelance marketplaces.
Payoneer works exactly like Paypal, but the transaction fee can be lower depending on the amount you receive. You can send invoices, track and manage payment requests, send reminders, and more and clients can pay you directly, without fees. Payoneer also works with the best freelance marketplaces.
TransferWise is another payment method for freelancers. Available globally, it has an interesting feature: it allows you to transmit payment in the recipient’s currency so if you’re invoicing a client in the USA but you’re based in Europe, your money will be automatically translated into euros.
When Is the Best Time to Invoice for Freelance Work?
I may state the obvious but invoicing is part of the process of getting paid as freelancers. It’s your duty to send your invoices on time because a client expects you to send your invoice as soon as the project has been completed or according to the freelance agreement.
Sending your invoices late sends bad signals to clients: they may think that for you getting paid is not a priority, and this may also set a bad precedent.
The best time to invoice for a freelance work doesn’t exist, and it depends on your agreement with your client. Most freelancers prefer to invoice at the end of each month but if you’ve completed a project earlier, you’re entitled to invoice to your client, unless your agreement prevents you from doing so.
Best Tools to Get Paid as a Freelancer
There is a way to simplify your invoicing process and be sure you’re getting paid for your freelancing job: it’s called “using an invoicing software”, a tool to set up invoices, send them and also get paid directly within the system.
These are three tools that can help you with that, and will allow you not to become a bad cop or waste your time chasing money.
You can send your invoices via Bonsai and set up your recurring ones. Bonsai also has a feature that reminds clients of any unpaid invoices and automatically adds a late fee to any invoices that aren’t paid by the due date.
The pricing starts at $19/month for the Workflow Plan, but you can try HelloBonsai for free using this link.
AND.CO automatically creates invoices for you and alerts you when they’re viewed or paid, accepts payments directly, and sends you an alert when payment has bee received. Try AND.CO using this link.
Freshbooks is one of the most loved and most used tools for sending invoices, receiving payments, and also file taxes by freelancers Worldwide. The invoicing process is easy and straightforward, the reminder is perfect to keep track of everything. Try Freshbooks for free.
- You can read more about invoicing tools in our article: The Best Invoicing Tools for Freelancers.
- If you’re looking for accounting tools, read our article: The Best Accounting Tools for Freelancers.
The road to getting paid as a freelancer doesn’t have to be bumpy or difficult: make sure you incorporate the advice and tools recommended above and always remember to vet your clients, define your rate according to your value, and be professional. Follow these best practices for how to get paid as a freelancer and start spending less time chasing money, or rushing things.
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