When you work for many different clients, you’re dealing with many different payroll services, payment methods or practices. So you need to be prepared. Getting paid is a recurring pain point for many freelancers. Most freelancers have a story regarding late payment or even getting totally jilted (according to the Freelancer’s Union, 74% of freelancers in New York have experienced one or the other.)
While this is an issue that takes more than a blog to solve, there are a few things you can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
Write things down and know your rights.
A lot of freelancers start working without a contract. While it’s usually fine when it’s for big companies or clients you already know, you really should request a contract before investing any time or effort in a project. At the very least, make sure to send an email where you lay down all the terms (financials, deliverables…) and ask for the client to approve. If they respond in the affirmative, you’ll have a written record of the agreement. In some states, the law is also on your side. In New York for example, unless stated otherwise in an agreement, the company must pay you within 30 days of work completion – find out more about the law and how to file a claim here.
If you don’t invoice, your client won’t pay you – it’s as simple as that. So do your part and send your invoice as soon as the work is completed and approved. Make sure to note the date of your invoice and some language regarding payment deadline (either repeat what is in your contract or, if you work without a contract, add a line like: “Payment due within 30 business days”) The people who are going to be dealing with your invoice are usually different than your point of contact, so all information needs to be written down clearly on that document. Lili allows you to also send a payment request, which can be used as a nice reminder a few weeks after you sent your invoice.
Check in often.
If the money doesn’t come in on time, make sure to send follow-up emails (for the written record) and make phone calls (for the human-pressure aspect.) When payment is late, it’s most of the time due to a communication error, so don’t move to DEFCON 5 immediately. But make sure to stay on top of your client and remind them of their deadline. If this client is known to be a late payer or if you have concerns, you can always ask for a percentage upfront. Remember, at that point they need you as much as you need them. They want your work, you want their money. You’re on equal footing.
Accept all forms of payment.
Every client is different and you don’t know how their payroll or banking service works. So try to be flexible and make it easy for everyone, they’ll appreciate you for that. Let them know you accept payment via Paypal, Cash App, Venmo, checks, direct deposit, etc… The good news for you is all these payment methods are compatible with your Lili account!
Take advantage of Lili’s Payment Request feature.
You can send a payment request directly from your Lili app. No third party. No commission. No delays. It will provide your payer all the information they need to send the money straight to your account. Also, sending a payment request can be a subtle reminder a couple of weeks after you sent your invoice.