THE single, most annoying thing about being a freelancer / travel blogger, is getting clients to pay on time. Or even, sometimes, at all.

Some clients just do not want to pay, no matter how late they are and how much the invoice, for some reason they suddenly decide you should’ve done the job for free. But we, as freelancers, HAVE to fight back to encourage them to pay on time, to make it better for all the freelancers after us. 

We shouldn’t have to put up with this!

Clients who don't pay

So far, in four years of freelancing, I’ve only ever had one non payer. From asking around, I don’t think this is too bad of a record. And that person was super sketch,  should never have said yes to the work. 

But I’ve had tens, if not pushing 100, of clients with an excuse for why they can’t pay on time.

So, in today’s edition of Travel Blogger High, I want to go through the steps you can take when you have a non-paying client, and you want the money you’re owed.

I’ve backed this up with as much online info as I can find but of course, I’m not a lawyer, or have any legal training, just a freelance blogger who gets thoroughly wound up when companies think they can delay the payment for freelancers, for days / weeks / months on end.

NOT COOL companies,
NOT cool.

Freelance payment process

The process for freelance payments is pretty simple, if everyone does their part.

Freelance problems

1. Send your invoice with payment terms on, and Ts and Cs at the bottom which state that you will charge the statutory 8% on top if it’s not paid on time (example below).

2. Wait 30 days. Even if your payment terms are 14 days, you don’t really have many rights until 30 days have passes. I always just put 30 days on my invoice terms anyway. Seems fair.

IDEALLY, this is where you get paid.
All done, everyone’s happy, next project puh-lease!

3. But no, the money isn’t in your account. Send a reminder on Day 31, remind them of your payment terms, wait for the excuse to roll in.

4. Respond by telling them that payment terms are payment terms, and if you don’t receive the money in your bank in the next 24 hours you will reissue the invoice with the extra 8% added.

5. Day 32, if they still haven’t paid, send the new invoice with the late paying fees.

I haven’t actually gone further, as I’ve always been paid (bar that one, which 100% wasn’t worth taking any further), but I would, and you should.

6. Wait a week. If they still haven’t paid go through and try everything again.

7. Wait another week. Right, you need to get someone else involved now. Or at least, sound like you’re getting someone else involved.

How to get a client to pay an invoice

(I’ve done them all)

Invoices and clients

The threat of an actual person

In the past I’ve said:

“I’m in London next week, if you’d like me to pop into the office to sort this out I can make time in my schedule”.

I got paid. 

**

The threat of a phone call

Or, you could try:

“Do you have someone I could talk to on the phone about this?”

People do NOT want to talk on the phone these days.

I got paid.

**

The threat of a colleague telling off

Search your emails to see if you’ve got the contact details of anyone else at the company. Then check with your contact if it’d help to talk to ‘Barbara Jones [insert name, obvs]’ to speed up the payment. That usually hurries them up. In the past, actually quite recently, with a HUGE travel organisation, I emailed everyone I knew at the company as the contact wasn’t messaging me back.

“Hello Barbara and Julie, how are you both? I’ve recently done some work for [insert name] and unfortunately I’m not getting a response to my late payment emails, please could you advise on what I should do?

The invoice is now 7 days late in being paid.

Thanks, Vicky”

Actually turned out my guy had left.

I got paid within the week.

**

The threat of an social shame

Use social media, but stay classy. Recently I had a non payer and Tweeted ‘please could you follow me, I have a question about an invoice that hasn’t been paid’. They followed me back and we got on the DMs. I was to the point, but not slagging them off all over social media.

They were really good and I got the contact I needed.

I got paid in the end.

**

The threat of a big company

Set up an email, like [email protected] And then, choose the toughest, roughest, most respectful name as the sign off (not going to give an example, personal opinion, don’t want to offend). Act like the big dog. None of the ‘excuse me, I just wondered where my money is’, and more of the ‘I’ll call the debt collectors’.

I think this is a great idea, although I haven’t done it yet. Make yourself appear a bigger operation than you actually are.

**

The threat of the law

Unfortunately, if this doesn’t work, you are actually going to need to call in the debt collectors. I haven’t actually had to do this yet, and so all I have to say here is just from advice on the web. Take a look at this post on getting clients to pay, and here’s a debt collector for freelancers to use (not tried).

You can pay £3 for an official Late-Payment-Demand letter from Advanced Collection Systems if you want a low-cost way to get your invoice paid.

You could also go to the small claims court, but make sure you have all the right paperwork and promises as proof before you begin. This will cost £25 as a starter price.

Freelancer Payment Protection Act

Freelance payments

In the USA, the Freelancer Payment Protection Act, the FPPA, helps independent workers in New York collect money from clients who don’t pay. Petitioners created the ‘World’s Longest Invoice’ outlining all the money they were owed from companies and it came to over $15 million. $15 million in unpaid fees!

In the UK we have gov.uk backing us up – check out their section on freelancer rights, some of which I’ve quoted below. Also, this post on LondonFreelance.org is filled with useful information on how to get paid as a freelancer.

How to write an invoice for freelance work

In your invoice you simply need to include your details, their details, the work done, the date, an invoice number and your bank details. Remember to add the payment terms as we discussed too.

This is the invoice I send out.

Travel bloggers invoice

Click to download a sample of an invoice for travel bloggers

How to ask for payment in an email

When I send off an invoice I simply say in the body of the email:

Dear [client name],

I have now published the post here: [link].

Please find my invoice attached. Let me know if you need any changes to the post or the invoice..

It’s been great working with you.

Thanks,

Vicky

I will always attach the invoice separately as a PDF of a Word document. It looks way more professional than just drafting something on the body of the email, and it helps me to keep track of the invoices too.

I just do this in a spreadsheet I created. Personally I don’t see the point of paying for a service for this although I know other travel bloggers use Quickbooks and Freshbooks, so take a look at them.

Using PayPal for freelance payments

Some clients prefer to pay my PayPal. If they say they want to do this though, make it clear that they’ll need to pay the PayPal fees. Even for invoices as little as £150, you’re still paying £5 for that to come through to you, and that’s just not right.

I always explain to them beforehand that there will be a charge and 99% of the time they’ve been fine about it.

Don’t pay the PayPal fees yourself!

TransferWise is a much better alternative as they don’t charge, and the conversion rates are WAY better than PayPal. Not all clients are using TransferWise though so I give them both choices.

Preventing the problem

get paid on time travel bloggers

Some of my travel blogger friends insist of half of the payment upfront. This makes a LOT of sense to me, as it costs us travel bloggers to do the job. I now pitch this to all my clients, although some have said it’s ‘not their policy’. Worth a try though, and if you’re particularly set on it, or it’s for a large amount, you can always insist.

How to ask for advance payment from a client

Send them a contract from you and your company, even if they send one too. It shows you mean business and you’re not messing about.

Remember to mention your payment terms, and include everything in. Make it a term and condition that you have 50% up front.

“I require 50% of the final payment on acceptance of this contract. This needs to be paid and cleared in my bank account before any work will begin.”

How to ask for payment in an email

When I send off an invoice I simply say in the body of the email:

“Dear [client name],

I have now published the post here: [link].

Please find my invoice attached.

Let me know if you need any changes to the post or the invoice.

It’s been great working with you!

Thanks, Vicky”

How much can I charge for late fees?

When clients don’t pay on time the law says:

“You can claim interest and debt recovery costs if another business is late paying for goods or a service.

If you agree a payment date, it must usually be within 30 days for public authorities or 60 days for business transactions.

If you do not agree a payment date, the law says the payment is late 30 days after either: the customer gets the invoice you deliver the goods or provide the service (if this is later).

The interest you can charge if another business is late paying for goods or a service is ‘statutory interest’ – this is 8% plus the Bank of England base rate for business to business transactions. You cannot claim statutory interest if there’s a different rate of interest in a contract.

Send a new invoice if you decide to add interest to the money you’re owed.”

– From gov.uk

I actually charge 10% and make it clear from the start, as you can see in the invoice example above.

Getting paid as a freelance travel blogger

How to get paid as a freelance travel blogger

Having problems getting paid as a freelance travel blogger sucks. It does my head in and it happens EVERY MONTH. The amount of time wasted double checking they haven’t paid and then following up is absolutely ridiculous. An invoice is a legally binding contract but when you don’t have a finance team to chase them up, or a legal team to get them to pay, the whole process of getting paid is ridiculously time consuming.

In the past I’ve definitely spent longer chasing clients up for payment than the work actually took. I’ve heard every excuse possible.

No matter how long it takes though, I will always chase and chase until I have the money. I hope these tips on how to receive payment for freelance work help you.

And if you have any more to add, or any horror stories, let me know.

I really like to get angry about this.


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