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Tips On How To Handle Clients Who Don’t Pay On Time

Tips On How To Handle Clients Who Don’t Pay On Time

This blog is all about my experiences and lessons Freelance content writing world. I have learned my lesson the hard way, well, still not a pro in this however, a bit more careful, I think.

I was a corporate employee with a 9 to 5 job for more than a decade and then decided to switch teams. Entered into this work-from-home setting some five years ago. The freelance content writing bit started once I was looking for a side hustle while raising my newborn. It all started when I started to write for a parenting platform and some brands’ started noticing my work from there. Registering on different platforms as Fiverr and Upwork happened gradually.

A tale as old as trade

A few years ago, being a newbie I relied on the words of clients and didn’t do my due diligence before agreeing to work with them. It’s every freelancer’s nightmare when the invoice remains unpaid with no communication from the client’s end. A client won’t pay for the services or the product you provided and now we have no clue what to do – a tale as old as trade.

Truth is, it can happen to anyone, regardless if you’re a novice or seasoned. Sometimes one just doesn’t spot the warning signs or sometimes when you spot them, we don’t really know what else to do. Chasing down payments isn’t just obnoxious it is also really exhausting. It can have a major impact on your cash flow for the month and disrupt your budget.

Here are a few things that have worked for me when it comes to timely payment from the client’s end:
  • Research about your client before agreeing to work with them: Always make sure to research the person or business before you agree to work with someone. If the prospective clients have a bad reputation around town, you might want to avoid dealing with them. Vet your clients thoroughly and schedule at least one video call with them before starting the project.
  • Upfront payment for your projects: Make sure to get your payment upfront for larger projects. Some freelancers expect payment during the project when each stage is done. There are options in almost every platform that I have worked on so far, to set the payment either on an hourly basis or project-wise. Choose wisely. I would rather lose a potential client than risk doing a month of work for free which is why most of my projects are paid upfront in full.
  • Be persistent and keep communicating: Regular communication might help bolster your work-relationship with the clients, which is crucially important at a time of financial stress. This is solely based on my experience with Indian clients so far, they need reminders.
  • Late fees/Contract: Try setting up a structure for late fees that can be used on every client when they fail to make timely payments. Ideally, a written policy on the contract or invoices would be a better way to deal with it.
  • Be clear with your terms and conditions: Make your terms and condition clear before signing up for the project. Before anyone signs, send a brief email that outlines the main points of the contract.

if you’re owed a significant amount of money, you’re well within your rights to pursue to take things forward legally. If you feel that you can’t come to an agreement with a debtor, it may be time for expert advice. There are plenty of lawyers and legal advisors who can be of great help in tough times. Well, I have lost quite a huge payment on one project last year and it made me think, it can happen to anyone irrespective of the number of years of experience in this field. All we can do is be more vigilant and firm with our clients. Having said that I still have clients with whom I have been working for years without a miss of a  single payment.

I guess, we all learn our lessons along the way 🙂

It is important to remember that every situation is unique on its own and has to be carefully reviewed before any action is taken. I am yet to meet a freelancer who doesn’t have such experiences and have learned their lessons now. Every freelancer and business has a story about one client who never paid and got away with it.

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Mom of a beautiful and most adorable baby girl. I am a dreamer and a true optimist with a drop of crazy at heart. I have always been fascinated with the perpetual link of a pen and a heart. It amazes me how beautifully pen can write what heart truly believes. I am a stubborn daughter, pampered wife, doting mother and free-spirited human being. Do not forget to visit and

Reader Comments

  1. Great tips, I must say but none work out for me. I have so many pending payments and most are not going to pay am sure. How can I take upfront payment in full for the content which is not yet written? Once I mail the content, the client refuses to reply to my mails or even to calls. 🙁

  2. as a freelancer I feel we too hesitate to bag big projects.. having said that non payments or time issues are great concern for me ..your tips can be quite handy

  3. The most challenging thing about freelancing isn’t getting work but getting paid for the work done. Client information and being upfront about out charges always helps. Also, one shouldn’t feel shy to ask for what’s due.

  4. The time when I used to work on a freelance basis, this was one of the biggest issues I used to face. I wish I had read this back then. Some really important & useful points you have covered here Kavita. And I can see, this knowledge definitely comes from experience.

  5. These are very helpful tips Kavitha. Yes we freelancers often hesitate to takeup the big project for the fear of the payment as when puts in lots of effort and delayed payment also hinders the work flow of the freelancers.

  6. Well written. Its every business/service providers nightmare to not be paid on time and a cold/no response from the opposite side makes things worse. As you have rightly said one needs to do a bit of due diligence of the client before getting into business with them is the right way to go.

  7. Not getting paid in time is very upsetting and for a person like me, follow up becomes a bit of a task as well. Keeping contracts crisp and clear for late fees and studying the background of a client will definitely help in the long run.

  8. I really needed this Kavita because I often have my doubts on accepting big assignments through new agencies for they often vanish or linger on for years. These tips help.

  9. This post is about something everyone would want to know. All of us have faced this situation once in our lives. Loved the points you have give. Much helpful and professional way of approaching the issues.

  10. Great tips dear and yes i agree that not get paid on time is really annoying and upsetting to. I believe making a proper research about client before taking project is first and most important step to be on safe side. also, like the idea of contract/late fee. I am sure these steps will help a lot in reducing our anxiety of not getting paid on time.

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