Show Me the Money

Dear Jodee,

I’ve finished work for a client, submitted my invoice, and….nothing. I don’t want to appear too pushy, but I want to make sure that I get paid for my freelance work. How can I follow up without being aggressive?

Hurting for Coin

Dear Hurting,

I appreciate where you are coming from here. On one hand, you don’t want to alienate the client by jumping on him or her five minutes after you submit the work, but you also want to be paid for what you have done in a timely manner.

The first thing you need to do is figure out if the client is really late with his or her payment or not. Invoicing, payment methods and terms are things that should have come up before you started doing the work. Pull out your contract with the client and check your notes and e-mails to refresh your memory if you aren’t clear about when you can expect payment.

If the payment really is late, then you need to get in touch with your client. It’s possible that your invoice got overlooked or the payment has gotten lost in the mail (it happens).

Since you don’t know at this point what the issue is or if you are going to have a problem collecting what is owed to you, start by getting in touch with the client. Explain that you submitted your work and invoice on [X] date but that you haven’t received payment yet. Ask if the client needs anything else.

I know that Paypal has a reminder feature but I’ve never used it for clients who like to pay using that method. I’d rather talk to someone directly than send an electronic message.

Most of the time you will get a response to your first inquiry. You will be paid or find out that payment has been issued or will be by [X] date. If it turns out that the client does need something else, you can deal with it (and present an updated invoice for the extra time you have spent on the job).

If you don’t get a response to your follow-up, it’s time to reach out more directly. Pick up the phone and ask the client about whether there is anything else they need and remind them about your unpaid invoice.

You aren’t asking the client for anything you haven’t earned or that you aren’t entitled to when you are following up about a late invoice, so don’t hesitate to conduct a polite follow-up when you haven’t been paid in the time frame you and the client have agreed on.


2 responses
  1. Priya Avatar

    Whether it’s reminding someone of a query or a bill I sent, I have a one week limit for sending a reminder. If I haven’t heard from them, I just send a nice reminder asking if they received my previous mail about XYZ. Sometimes, esp with email, things go directly to spam folders. I’ve had one guy ignore my invoices, or telling me he didn’t receive them but he’s been the only one so far. Most others have been apologetic, and get to it immediately after my reminder.

  2. Sofia [Freelance Writing Tools] Avatar

    Getting trapped has become a common phenomenon. I was cheated by a company that ordered 40 web hosting articles from me and disappeared.

    Thanks for the info


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