One of the unusual but sometimes experienced and encountered in the Freelance industry is the issue of certain clients struggling/resisting to pay for the services enjoyed. First, it is wisdom to establish that this ailment is not a Freelance ailment. This is an issue that bothers every industry, business and career and you begin to wonder, why would people enjoy a particular service and then be reluctant to pay for it? Often times, Freelancers have had to encounter the challenge of being frustrated over a payment for the job done that they never should have to stress about it in the first place.
So what do you do as a Freelancer when you are stuck with a Client who had gladly enjoyed your service but finds it very difficult to appreciate it in cash?
1. Go slow: This might probably sound ridiculous but you read right. Number one rule is always to go slow. Find out why the Client is having a hard time paying what should rightfully be given to you. Is he or she in a financial crisis? Or is it a deliberate move not to pay because he/she wasn’t satisfied with the service delivered? Or is that he/she wants to simply spend the money that should be wired to your account or something else? When you find out which one it is, it would help you decide how to go about the situation.
2. Follow up: Let me say this again that this situation is one that no Freelancer ever should go through ‘cause it is exhausting but when it does happen, following up is another thing to do. It’s ridiculous but please, ignore and just follow up on your payments. Call the client, send him/her a text, and remind the client daily through the emails too till there is a positive result to follow.
3. Make Suggestions: In certain situations when the problem of the client could be a financial crisis, you can make suggestions and offer them options on payment plan – like they can pay X amount every month through the span of Y Year/months, etc.
4. Is it worth it/Seek Legal Advice/Option/Call them out on Social Media: Yes, this is the pre-last resort when every other steps have been taken. I mean, when you have done 1 to 3 and every other important and calm step that is probably not listed here and nothing seems to work and all you have left is that this Client keeps ignoring your call and has probably blacklisted your line (yes, some people can be that mean), first ask yourself if the money involved is worth you going head on with them. Is it a 5% balance case or it is the whole money? I’m not saying no thousands is worth it but is it something you want to drag you and them all the way on? Is the amount being owed worth getting them served and employing the services of a Lawyer whom you will end up paying in no small amount? Let me say this, that in as much as I am not a fan of calling people out on social media and making something done in private a public affair, I think it’s alright if any Freelancer wants to take that option in other to get their entitlement. The funniest thing is some Clients can be so devilish that they wouldn’t mind blocking you on social media pages just so you won’t come for them and if you are that Freelancer facing that kind of thing and the money is not just peanut in weight and to you, it’s okay to get a dang Lawyer so far there is a contract to back it all up and you don’t mind spending on court cases.
5. Let It Go: This is the final destination many people are not always eager to take and face ‘cause it’s definitely a painful high road to take but sometimes, you gonna have to learn to let go and accept the situation as one of the bad times and experiences of business. It is called learning to cut your losses.
Conclusively, I like to believe that a Client who finds it very difficult to pay for a service he/she enjoyed didn’t place so much value on the outfit he/she owns, cares less for reputation and longevity of her/his business and sometimes, some Clients problem are just used to the concept of using people all the time that unconsciously, it has sort of become who they are. So as Freelancers, the best way to avoid this problem most of the time is to always draft and sign a contract and also, always collect your 100% payment in certain situations before the start of work and if your Client is very honest and has no problem with paying you afterwards, he/she won’t have a problem with paying you before so far you have a reputation that precedes you but when you can’t really get your 100%, try to get a hold of your 95% percent. I know it sounds like what if my Client has trust issues too? See, everyone is trying to be careful but one person is gonna be on the high side of loss when there comes a breach in trust and I like to believe it is the person with the intellectual property.