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Have you ever had a client NOT pay you for services you provided? Sucks, huh. You work your a** off to do the best job. Maybe you go above and beyond and do a little extra stuff at no charge because that’s the kind of person you are.
And after all that, you don’t get paid. Much less hear from them ever again. There are no replies to your emails. They don’t reply your texts. And they won’t take your phone calls. I think that’s called being ‘ghosted’.
I had been lucky enough to not have to deal with clients not paying. But that streak ended recently.
What Inspired This Blog Post
It’s funny how life or business experiences can end up as content for a blog post. I guess that’s the upside to when sh*t happens. You write about it in hopes that the lesson you learned will help someone else.
About three or four months ago, I received a referral from a client. This person wanted me to set up a new website for their business. We agreed on a price and payment plan.
After the website was done, the client only paid half of the rate we agreed to. Every month after that, I sent an invoice and email a reminder. I finally heard from the client and I was told the balance would be paid. That was four weeks ago. Since then it’s been crickets.
As I write this post, it’s the beginning of a new month. I sent out another invoice, sent a message via Facebook and also sent a text. I’ll let a couple days pass and then I’ll call.
Something tells me I may not ever get paid but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop invoicing this client for the balance due.
In the meantime, I learned something out of this experience.
The Lessons I Learned And How To Make Sure You Get Paid In Full For Your Services
Here are a few takeaways from my experience and how you can make sure you get paid for in full for services you provide.
#1 Look Out For Red Flags
When communicating with a potential client about a project, look out for red flags. In my case, I should have picked up on the fact that this person didn’t have the budget for this project.
#2 CYA – Put It In Writing
Since this was a referral from a client I have been working with for two years now, I didn’t put anything in writing. I figured if this client was a referral, everything would be cool.
And now all I have are the emails that shows what she agreed to.
The lesson here: just because your client is credible, doesn’t mean the person they referred you to will be. So make sure you put an agreement or contract together that details what everything you and your client agreed to. And include a statement about late charges.
#3 Ask For A Deposit Or Payment Up Front
Always, always ask for a deposit or payment up front before starting a project – no matter who it is!
I was dealing in good faith with this client because of the person we both know. And that’s okay. But you’re taking a risk that you won’t get paid at all.
Wrapping It Up
I hope the lessons I learned from this experience will prevent you from having to go through it yourself.
- Look out for red flags
- Have new clients sign an agreement or contract
- Ask for a deposit or payment up front
Update: I reached out to Lorraine Reguly to get some advice about this. She gave me some great advice I want to pass on to you:
- Set up a payment arrangement to make sure you get paid. For example, ask for a deposit before starting a project. Then ask for a payment when you start the project. And get the last payment when the project is completed.
- She also suggested to put disclosures such as hiring process and deposits on our services page so that disclosures and processes are clear from the get-go. I love how she set up her Editing Services page. Check it out!
If you need a template for contracts The Contract Shop* has contract templates and other documents for your business.
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