Handling Payment Issues as a Freelancer

As a freelancer, most of the services that you provide require some sort of payment, or at least I hope they do. However, what if your client does not pay you?

Clients not paying occasionally happens. This is why you should protect yourself. As for payment or at least a deposit up front. Also, try not to rely and count on a payment until it is actually received. Businesses do this all the time. Counting money in your life when it is not received is not a good thing. You need to earn and receive your payment first.

Sometimes freelancers receive no payment at all. You might provide quality work for clients, and the clients don’t pay for the product, or they pay and take the money back after a certain amount of time has passed. This happens. It’s not the greatest thing to happen, but as a freelancer you should be prepared.

These are problems that have been reported repeatedly, especially against online payment systems like PayPal, which don’t offer protections for people offering services instead of products.


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Not being paid by your client:

If you provide a client with a finished product or services and they do not pay, the only thing you can really do is keep trying to contact them until they do pay. Working in the online world makes it very hard to make sure that you receive payment, and this is why working with repeat customers is always nice.

Unfortunately, there are so many scammers out there looking for free stuff and don’t care that they are ripping you off since it is the online world, you just might run into a ‘client’ who is willing to pay top dollar for work, but when it actually comes time to pay, they disappear off the face of the earth.

This happens, and as a freelancer it is a huge nightmare to have to deal with. This is when having a contract comes in handy, but it isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if the information in the contract is falsified. Always check and make sure that your client is who they say they are. This is why it can be a little scary to be a brand new freelancer and not know any of your clients.

One scary thing to think about: There are also many cases in which a client will pay for work in advance, or pay for work over a period of a few months using online checks via PayPal, and once a certain amount of time has passed, they request a chargeback for the e-checks and effectively pull the coin out of the soda machine after getting their Coke. This has left many a freelancer owing PayPal money on top of being out the money for their bills. Unfortunately, PayPal has no way to protect freelancers who offer services, unless you’ve sent product through the mail.


How to Deal with non-payment from a client:

You can request that clients pay you using the normal immediate payment methods on PayPal which do not allow for charge backs. Receiving an e-check via PayPal can be a risky move.

Also, as a freelancer, you can request money orders sent through registered mail rather than checks, which can easily be forged or have stop payments issued on them.

Finally, always insist on half the payment upfront until you establish a good working relationship with the client. I almost always do this with a brand new client that I don’t really know. It protects me. However, some freelancers hesitate to do this because they are worried that it may give the client a bad impression. But it is as much your right to expect the client to take on risk for the first half of the project, as you will for the second half of it.

Have you ever had to deal with non-payment from a client? How do you protect yourself?


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