How To Get Paid On Time, According to Industry Professionals

How To Get Paid On Time, According to Industry Professionals

Let’s be frank. We all gotta get paid. 

But when you’re a lonely little freelancer without the power of a big corporate entity to back you up, you can get screwed over pretty easily if you’re not careful. We’ve written about what to do if you haven’t been paid, and we’re back with more tips from industry professionals. 

Pinpoint project milestones at which you can request partial payment to unlock the next deliverable. 

To truly delight your clients, it’s important that you understand their challenges and needs, and provide value in those spaces. Identify the milestones at which they’re amped up and excited about your work, and get them to pay then. Giving them a teaser or preview allows them feel at ease about spending the money since they can more tangibly see the value. 

Once my client has seen their site, given the okay and are all excited to launch, their final payment is due. I launch the site while on a live video call with my client, so while I’m working on launching the site, they’re pulling out their card to pay. Once their payment has gone through, I add them on as a contributor to their site and we launch it together. 
I am currently holding down a 100% on-time payment track record, and it’s all because payments are due at milestones where clients are motivated and ready to move forward!

- Paige Brunton, Owner of The Paige Studio 


Charge clients regularly and on a schedule.

Not only do frequent invoices help maintain momentum and keep the project moving forward, but it also ensures that you get more regular and reliable income. For longer term clients, being on a set weekly or bi-monthly payment schedule can encourage timely payment habits on the client side. 

I bill my clients bi-monthly. As a freelancer with an unsteady income, it makes me feel more comfortable to cycle in payments more frequently. I allow my clients a month to pay me once they have received my invoice. The frequency that I bill clients allows me the leniency to give a full month before payment is due. I find that this bi-monthly practice helps keep projects moving forward and my clients focused.

- Hannah Westerman, Freelance Artist & Graphic Designer


Make payment so easy it's automated. Literally.

When you have a several-month-long project, consider saving your clients payment information on file and eliminate the possibility of them forgetting (or ignoring) your invoice. Make their job even easier by setting up automatic payments that run once a month. You can then send out invoices with a notice that their card will be charged in 7 or 14 days. Apps like Sail make it easy for you to set up these sorts of invoice and payment systems. 

It’s often surprising to others, but most of our clients pay us the same day we send an invoice, some within minutes or only a few hours. For clients with whom we have ongoing retainer agreements for a set service each month, or a set number of hours each month, we set up automatic or recurring payments by credit card, so they pay us on the first of every month just as they would a gym payment or car payment.

The trick to never having a client question an automatic invoice is keeping them in the loop of exactly what you’re doing for them and why it matters.

- Jennifer Bourn, Owner of Bourn Creative

These tips, and more, originally appeared on the Sail blog  and have been shared with Sail’s permission. Header photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence

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