How Can Freelancers Avoid Late Payments

The best part of the freelancing is receiving payments for completed projects. Since becoming a freelancer means saying goodbye to the concept of steady income, every new project brings a certain amount of stress and financial risk. Your existence depends on those projects and the money you make that way.

Because of that, not being paid on time for your work is an extremely uncomfortable and stressful experience for every freelancer. When you’re still at the beginning, you might make some mistakes that could lead to unpaid projects. That’s why we’ve prepared a short guide that will help you avoid late payments.

Reduce the payment period

New stars in the freelancing sky might need to make some compromises at the beginning of their careers. For instance, accepting projects with lower rates just to get positive reviews is a common thing for novice freelancers.

Nevertheless, even if your initial income isn’t too high, make sure to clearly set your rules at the beginning of every collaboration and get paid on time from day one. Since every cent will be important for you in the initial stage of your career, you should set a shorter payment period. In line with that, think about giving your clients 15 days to pay you, starting from the day you send the invoice is a fair offer.

On the one hand, you won’t have to wait for weeks or even months to monetize your work on that project. On the other, the other party will be nudged to make their payment earlier, what will prevent them from forgetting to pay you.

Offer special deals for early payments

In addition to the aforementioned 15-day payment period, you should stress out in your invoices that early payers are eligible for special deals.

For example, those clients who make their payments immediately after you send them invoices could be given a 10% discount on your services. Similarly, you could send such early payers special vouchers that can be used to get a discount on the future projects in which they need your services.

Apart from that, it’s clever to ask every new client for a down payment. This sum will serve as a guarantee for both interested parties. You’ll know that the client won’t just vanish when you finish the project.

The client will show that they’re a serious and reliable business collaborator. You can suggest this option while negotiating the terms of collaboration and include it in your project estimate. It’s important to keep such agreements in writing, to have evidence in case of misunderstanding.

Sending a clear invoice

If a project estimate accepted by both parties in a business project is a guarantee that the work on the project will start, an invoice is here to make sure that the client will pay for that work.

In order to give the client a chance to make a fast payment, the freelancer needs to create a clear and straightforward invoice. Moreover, a well-organized and clearly structured invoice needs to contain your business name, as well as the name of your client’s venture.

What’s more, every invoice you send to your clients should have the invoice number, as well as the invoice date. The latter is extremely important since you calculate the payment period from that very date.

Finally, a professional business invoice will have your contact details and the amount that the client should pay to you.

Allow several payment options

Since the modern business world is becoming more globalized, freelancers should think globally, as well.

Therefore, it’s crucial for an aspiring freelancer to allow several payment options to their clients. For starters, your domestic clients can pay you directly on your local bank account. That will spare you the hassle of paying various fees imposed by modern payment solutions.

As for international clients, you can use a large number of options. For starters, a Payoneer or mainstream payment solutions, such as PayPal and Stripe, are popular throughout the world, so your clients will find it easy to make their payments.

Alternatively, you can check out, Square and some other payment solutions that can come in handy in your future freelancer work.

If your clients can choose from a variety of payment options, it’s more likely that they’ll pay you on time.

Impose fees and actions for late payments

It’s important to know that you’re more likely to get paid on time if you state your payment rules at the beginning of your collaboration with every new client.

In line with that, at that stage you need to inform them about the payment period – say, the suggested 15 days – and what actions you’ll take if they don’t make the payment on time.

First and foremost, set the fees for late payments, so as to get ready to react in case of emergency. These percentages will depend on the negotiated sum and the number of days the client is late with the payment. When you’re writing a reminder letter, include those figures into the letter and into the updated invoice, so as to show assertiveness to the other party.

Moreover, if those actions don’t work, you should send them an official warning that you’ll take that case to the court. Also, if you and the client in question collaborate via one of the freelance websites, you can tell them that you’ll report them to website admins. This warning might be more efficient than mentioning the court since they might be suspended by the website. As a result, they won’t be able to perform any work with any freelancer.


Freelancing in the contemporary online environment is much safer than it used to be. You can conduct detailed searches via efficient search engines and find loads of information about every client. Naturally, those that don’t appear in such searches most probably aren’t worth your time.

Also, freelancers can find reliable clients who are verified payers on freelance websites. These platforms are a great source of data about freelancers and clients since all of them get reviews from others. In a nutshell – you can use numerous options to ensure gradual, steady payment and grow your freelance career.

Mark Thomasson
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus - a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.
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