The nice thing about the second approach is that you won’t necessarily lose the project. More often than not, the client will agree to 100% payment up front? And you will have just stuck a feather in your badass cap.
People’s respect follows their money. The situation described above just happened to me, and you’ll discover like I did that being firm, being a little grumpy about boundaries, will help to train your clients to respect you. Stand your ground with money stuff, and they will push back less on EVERYTHING.
More Ways to Get Paid As a Freelancer
1. Require payment with a credit card from new clients.
Accept PayPal and credit card payments online, and make it clear in writing that you prefer for the deposit payment to be paid with a credit card.
That way, both parties aren’t waiting for a check to show up so that the project can commence.
Believe me, this can get awkward: “Has the check shown up yet?” “No, not yet, which means I still won’t work on your project.”
2. Require payment before commencing the project.
Don’t add a project to your production queue until the client pays the deposit invoice. I alluded to this in the email template above: Out of fairness to your existing clients and their projects, don’t add new projects to the queue until the deposit payment has shown up.
Those clients must wait in line like everyone else. They pay to play.
Whether or not they know it, your new clients want you to respect your existing clients. They want you to establish and honor boundaries because that de-risks the relationship for everyone.
“Oh, you’re not rushing to help me because you need to honor prior obligations? Well, I guess that means that once I’m in line, no one will be able to jump in front of me. That’s good.”
3. Require payment every two weeks.
As soon as the work you have put into the project passes the deposit invoice’s 33% or 50% mark, track your time carefully and start billing your hours every two weeks. You can read more about the benefits of twice-monthly invoicing here: “6 Invoicing Tips to Help Freelancers Get Paid Faster.”
When you quote flat, per-project fees, be sure to designate future billing dates and amounts in your client service agreement. For example, let’s say you invoiced 50% of the project total for the deposit. Send another invoice 30 days later for 25%, and the final invoice for 25% 60 days later.
I keep sending invoices even if the project isn’t close to finished. Why? Past clients have tabled projects or canceled them altogether, and their decisions represented the loss of critical revenues I was counting on.
Combine aggressive date-specific invoicing with expiration dates on unused time blocks and project reactivation fees, and you’ll experience fewer shortfalls and frustrations when slow-moving clients go dark for months.
- Require a non-refundable deposit.
- Require 100% up-front payment from new clients.
- Require payment with a credit card from new clients.
- Require payment before commencing the project.
- Require payment every two weeks.
Look at that list. Can you already feel your anxiety melting away? Yeah, deposits for freelancers are nice like that.
This is the process I follow with deposits and payments every. single. time.