Collecting Payment from Freelance Clients

Freelancing is a good way to earn extra income and it can also be a career for some designers. However, other than having the flexibility to experience various types of projects, one of the challenges is to collect their payment.

I have completed a freelance project 3 months ago. All works are submitted on time and the clients are happy with them. I followed up with an invoice immediately and hoping to receive the payment as soon. After weeks past, there are no reply to my invoice and so I thought that client’s side may need 30 days to process just like some other big companies are doing. 2 months has past and still I have not receive my payment. Although we had several online conversations regarding the payment, the answer from the other side is always, "No problem bro! I have submitted your invoice to process! You should be getting it next week!". Alright I waited a few rounds and now comes to the 3rd month.

Do you find my situation familiar? Are you experiencing the same issues as well? Here are some tips I gathered from other freelancers. You will decide which of them are workable.


State your payment terms clearly

Although most of us are doing this always, but it is still important that we make sure we state our payment terms clearly to avoid any misunderstandings.


Practise progressive payment

If the project involve a few thousands dollars, it will be good to split the total payment up into few phases. Start off with a 20-30% deposit first upon project confirmation.


Include a return envelope

This is to make payment easier for your clients. So all they need to do is simply to include the money into the envelope and send back to you.


Giving discount for pre-paying

Personally think that most clients will not take up this offer even if the discount is around 5-10%. But it is still worth a try, maybe.


Phone calls are better than emails

It is more effective and clients will not have the excuse for saying your email ended up in the spam folder. But be careful with your tones. It is always good to be polite.


Understand your client better

Be careful whom you do business with. When starting out, it is tempting to agree to do work for anyone, but resist this impulse and do due diligence before starting a job.


Allow credit cards payment

I think many of us have an account in PayPal or other international payment gateways. So this should be a common method provided for the clients.


Formal or legal debt collection letter

Worst come to worst this is the last thing that we can do. Be professional and do not use threaten or include any vulgarities in the letter.

Late payment is like a "global bad habit". No matter how fast we complete the freelance project, payment will be late sometimes. As long as it does not delay over more than two months, I think we can still accept that the Accounts Department is really busy handling all sorts of financial issues. Hope you find this post useful. Have a great coming weekend!

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11 Comments | Write a Comment

  1. Jason says:

    Handy strategies to develop a healthy relationship with the client base. I too prefer a phone call that chatting with the client.

  2. shakhawat says:

    Yes! this a big problem to get money from overseas client.

  3. Borneo Geeks says:

    I’ve been approached by a Singapore company to set up an e-commerce site and a blog for their client. The project haven’t started yet but I’m kind of suspicious, because they insisted to host the site themselves. The only reason why I offered to host is because I have a compatible server for the project, since they don’t even know what is a mySQL database. I’m just wondering, what would you charge for complete e-commerce site with a blog section, complete with back end access in Singapore? Coz these guys are trying to eat lobster for the price of chicken rice 🙂

  4. Fanya says:

    Its interesting

  5. Ivan says:

    Wow, I didn’t know the situation here was that bad. Was working for a supposedly reputable company that does stuff for Mediacorp, and they ended up delaying my payment from August 2009 until now, guess really have to resort to legal action.

    Hope you get your payment soon too, Johnson.

  6. Victor says:

    and btw…your site is great! 🙂 5 stars!

  7. Victor says:

    This is what I always do:

    – Do a draft
    – Send a very low (but clear) quality to the client for approval. IF yes….
    – Get 30% deposit
    -Send a low (but clear) quality to the client for final approval.
    – Give a cd-dvd or whatever with the high quality job to the client at the same time he/she/company pay me… cash.

    I never take risks
    I never trust
    I always make sure that “tomorrow” I will get what I deserve

  8. Mars says:

    it was my experienced to have headache collecting the payment from my client overseas, this is a good post to consider on my upcoming projects

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