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5 Tips for Setting Expectations for Payment Up Front

As a freelancer, I know what it’s like to be in suspense over whether or not I’ll get paid. Most of my clients pay on time, and I don’t usually have an issue.

However, part of that is setting expectations for payment early on. Here are 5 tips you can use as you work to get paid:

1. Agree on Terms Early On

First, you need to agree on terms early on. Setting expectations for payment is vital as part of your negotiations. Don’t wait until you send an invoice to ask for payment within 30 days. Let your client know now. You can negotiate if needed

You can negotiate if needed, especially if your client pays on a net 45 or net 60 basis. Talk about it first to get it in your client’s head.

2. Include Payment Terms in the Contract

When you put together your freelance contract, it’s important to be clear about your terms. You can get a contract template online from resources like Freelancers Union and WikiHow. It’s a good way to make sure that you are setting expectations for payment in writing, and it gives you written backup as needed.

3. Ask for Some Payment Up Front

If you are working on a big project, it makes sense to ask for payment up front — at least some of it. You don’t always need to get all of it up front, but you can ask for a portion of payment up front, or ask for a retainer if things are nebulous.

You don’t want to be stuck doing a lot of work and running the risk of not getting paid. At the very least, set up payment for regular intervals, such as every two weeks.

4. Mention Your Preferment for Electronic Payment

You can also ask for electronic payment. I like receiving my payment through PayPal or by ACH direct deposit because the money arrives sooner, and you don’t have to wait for a check. This doesn’t always work for me, but when I can get electronic payment, that’s what I prefer.

Setting expectations for payment in terms of electronic payment is a big deal, because it means you get the money faster, and you can see your work pay off a little bit sooner.

5. State Your Payment Terms Clearly on Your Invoice

Finally, make sure that you state your payment terms clearly on your invoice. Your payment terms — the terms you have already agreed upon with your client — should be prominent. Also, invoice promptly. If you say you will invoice on a certain day, make sure you do so. You want to be quick with your invoice so your client is just as prompt with pay.

Don’t be afraid to follow up if needed. If payment isn’t coming in the required time frame, call or email to to remind your client. It’s important to make sure that you are on top of things so that you don’t wind up letting a payment slip through the cracks.

Setting expectations for payment up front is important. You have a better chance of avoiding deadbeats this way.

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I’m Miranda and I’m a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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