How to Deal with a Client Who Only Sees the 'Free' Part in 'Freelance'

Some clients are slow to pay invoices or resist paying them at all. How do you know when you need to be patient and when you need to get firm?

If you're working for yourself, odds are you've encountered someone whose eyes light up at the 'free' part of the word 'freelancer'. There are always going to be some clients who are extremely reluctant to pay. The reasons are endless, they could be short of money, simply forgetful or had no intention of ever paying, but one thing is for certain - it can be an extremely frustrating situation.

The first thing you should do if an invoice hasn't been paid is send them a gentle reminder. If there's nothing in your bank account the day after it was due, drop them an email to let them know you were expecting the payment. They may have just forgotten, so be patient.

If they fail to reply or give a vague answer, take it one step further by emailing their colleagues or office. Once other people are aware of the situation, they might be spurred into action. If there's still no response, it's time to apply more pressure.

Send your invoice by multiple channels – email them a copy, send a physical copy through the post, ring them to leave a reminder. Do this every day and chances are they will eventually reply, knowing you won't give up.

If you can get hold of them, ask them why the invoice is outstanding. There may still be a legitimate reason for their delay in paying, along the lines of not having the money ready on the due date. That's disorganised and bad business practice, but it happens. Follow up by asking when you can expect the money, and if there's still no payment, it might be time to consider the small claims court.


Send a gentle reminder
Email their office and colleagues
Send multiple invoices
Ask why they haven't paid
Consider the small claims court