Freelancing is a great way to earn an income. You get to set your own work hours and generally have no one to answer to. Depending on your area of specialization, freelancing can also be a lucrative venture. There are numerous benefits of considering to offer freelance work, but the professions where this type of working routine could be adapted is dependent on your career choice. For example, one of the most flexible and profitable professions where you can pursue it is working as a freelance translator. But with all the flexibility and convenience of freelancing comes plenty of uncertainty, particularly when it comes to payment. Thankfully, there are a few measures you can take to ensure that you get paid on time. These include the following:
Know Who You are Working With
Before you commit your time, energy and resources to a project, first ensure that you know what kind of client you are dealing with. Are they reliable? Do they make payments on time? Are they courteous to those who work for them? What about their expectations? Do they have reasonable expectations or will they turn your work down at the last minute?
It is crucial that you run a background search on a client before you accept to work for them. Read the reviews written about them by their customers and other freelancers as well. Additionally, choose to work with clients that seem financially stable as they are more likely to pay your dues on time. You would also be better off working for businesses that have been in existence for a long period of time as this speaks to their stability. Finally, trust your gut. If your instincts tell you to flee from a given client, then simply don’t work with them.
Have a Contract
Nothing protects business partners better than a contract, and especially a written contract. It is important that you create a standard contract to bind both you and your clients in your transactions. But it is not enough that the contract is in writing; the terms of the contract must also be expressly clear and free of ambiguity. For instance, if you expect a down-payment before you start a project, state that in the contract and also indicate how much the down payment will be. It’s important that you choose a safe payment method that will ensure your hard work is rewarded.
How will payment be affected? Do you want the money deposited in your bank account, or are you also open to credit cards and a cheque? If you are to use a third party, say PayPal, during your monetary transactions, who will bear the cost of the transaction?
One cannot overemphasize just how important clarity is when it comes to a written contract. If you need help drafting a foolproof contract, then ask a lawyer for help. It will be well worth the effort over the long haul.
As a freelancer, nothing says that you respect your time better than being organized. And if you show clients that you respect your own time, they will be inclined to respect it too. There is no denying that bookkeeping can be quite a task, but you need to excel in it.
You will need to keep clear records of the work you do and the hours you spend doing, otherwise, how will you be able to bill your clients? Secondly, you will need to send detailed invoices in good time. In today’s world, Microsoft Word documents simply won’t suffice as invoices. There are countless tools such as Servant, Zoho Invoices and Freshbooks that will design professional invoices for you at an affordable price.
In business, impressions matter. You need to impress upon your clients that you are a professional and there is no better way to do this than sending professional invoices. If your invoices are sloppy, clients will have a low opinion of you and they will probably take their time in making payments.
Sometimes, clients may be late in making payments by a day or two, and this is perfectly alright. You can afford them leniency in such cases. But what do you do to a client who fails to make payments weeks after they are due?
First, try to bring the delay to their attention by sending emails. If you do not get any response, then try calling them. You can even show up at their premises in person to really get their attention. If this does not bear fruit, you can turn to debt collectors or legal action to get compensation for your work. Make sure to engage a debt collector only after the defaulting client has crossed the line too far.
As a freelancer, you need to stay vigilant in order to get paid on time. This means that you should send invoices before they are due, and ensure to add payment details on them. Additionally, draft a contract that protects you from defaulting clients and make sure that they sign and return the contract to you. And keep in mind that if worst comes to worst, seeking the services of a debt collector to get your money will be the best way to go.