One of the best things about freelancing is that you get paid to do the things you love, but what about when you don’t? You need to know how to remind someone to pay you.
The positives are ou choose every project, you decide how to invest your time and what direction you want your career to take, and you get to do it all from whatever kind of workspace speaks to you.
But if you don’t actually get paid, that dream becomes a bit of a nightmare.
A report released by the Independent Economy Council earlier this year found that 72% of gig workers are not paid on time by clients, and, even more shocking, more than half of those workers are owed more than $50k by clients!
For all of the perks of freelancing, one of the drawbacks is that you are on your own. Managing your business, making sure those invoices are sent out and following through on the payment is all on you. And for some people, talking about money is awkward.
So, you need a plan. If you already know how to remind someone to pay you before a late invoice happens, you will be ready when it does.
In this article, we will explore how to remind someone to pay you, with some practical examples and tools to really help you make the changes you need to be successful. We’ll also talk about how to be more proactive in order to avoid most of those late payments in the first place.
How to remind someone to pay you: the do’s & don’ts
So, let’s talk about some best practices around how to remind someone to pay you.
As you move further past a payment deadline, at some point, you are going to have to ask for the money. No one enjoys this process, but there are a few ways to make it easier, both on you and on your client.
- Check your records first. There is always the chance that the invoice wasn’t sent when you thought it was, or some other clerical error could be preventing the payment. It is always better going into a hard conversation armed with all of the information.
- Send a payment request. Use whatever form of communication your client is used to and formally request the amount of money that you are owed. It helps to have a template ready to go.
- Say thank you. My number one tip for how to remind someone to pay you actually happens after you get paid. There is so much power in gratitude, and even when the process was not as straightforward as you might have hoped, following up with a thank you can help you keep you client relationship intact.
- Let your emotions take over. Being rude almost never gets you what you want. It can be so frustrating to wait on a payment, but projecting that to your client is a mistake. Instead, try to put yourself in their shoes. They may be going through a financial challenge, or there might be some kind of event at their workplace keeping them unusually busy. There are so many reasons a payment is late, it’s best to assume good will upfront.
- Confuse the issue. Your client needs to understand exactly what you are asking for. Using a lot of extra language or dancing around the issue will just result in more back and forth, and you will have to wait longer for your payment.
- Give up too quickly. If you are unsure how to remind someone to pay you, it can be tempting to just write off a late payment and move on to something else. It takes a lot of energy to collect your money, but don’t give up without a fight! You did the work, you deserve to be paid fairly. Keep sending follow ups, and politely let the client know you are not going away without your money.
How to remind someone to pay you via payment reminders
As you scale your business and take on more clients, collecting money only gets more complicated. Luckily, there are a variety of tools to help you remind someone to pay you automatically, so you no longer have to think about it or have those awkward conversations.
Payment reminders are form-style emails that go out at a predetermined time. You set them up once, and then, as you bill your clients, the software will remind them about upcoming and late payments, generate late fees as needed, and generally make you look extremely professional.
Most bookkeeping software will have the option to set up automatic payment reminders. Usually, it is a matter of filling in a setting when you generate your invoices. Consult whatever software you are using to find out the exact steps. Once you perfect your letter, you never have to personally remind someone to pay you again, your accounting tool does it for you!
Scripts on how to remind someone to pay you
So let’s get into the nitty-gritty details of how to remind someone to pay you. Best practices and automatic tools are great, but whatever direction you are taking, you first need to perfect the exact words you use.
With that in mind, here are some solid examples of how to remind someone to pay you that should help you get started.
1. CodeinWP gives a great, simple email template on their site, with options for follow up emails if the payment remains late.
Hi [Client name],
I wanted to touch base regarding your latest invoice. I sent it out on [X date] and it was due on [Y date]. My records show we haven’t received payment yet. If you have any questions about the invoice, we’d be happy to review it with you.
Otherwise, please let us know at your earliest convenience when we can expect to receive payment.
2. The tone of your email will depend on just how late the payment is. Regpack has a great script, shown below, for a more urgent reminder.
Hi [Client Name],
This is a reminder that you are now one month overdue on your payment of $[amount] for invoice #[number].
As stated in the payment terms, we have the right to charge additional fees for payments made after the due date. [insert more detail here, the number of days you previously agreed on, or other terms]
All of the payment details are in the attached invoice. Please contact us if there are any questions or problems.
3. Honeybook is a great choice for freelance bookkeeping. They also offer a handful of email templates to help you solve the “how to remind someone to pay you” question. Here’s one that is actually proactive, sent before payment is due, with a few changes:
Hi [Client Name],
I hope you’re doing well! This is a friendly reminder that invoice #[XX], totalling $[amount], is due for payment on [date]—one week from today.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the invoice or payment details.
Over the phone
It is probably less common for freelancers to call to collect payment, but, depending on your client, they may respond more positively––not to mention faster––to a more personal phone call.
If you are going to get on the phone, prepare ahead of time, and know what you are going to say. Here’s just one script example, inspired by this TCM post, which has some good pointers.
“Hello, my name is [Your Name]. I’m calling about the [product/service] I worked on for you. I wanted to make sure everything worked out ok with that?”
–Wait for client response. As long as there are no issues, you can move on.–
“That is great! So, my records indicate that I have not yet received payment, although the invoice was sent on [date]. I was hoping you could help me out with that?”
–In most cases, the client has probably forgotten payment and the conversation will resolve itself. However, if you need to begin to negotiate, continue after listening carefully.–
“I’m so sorry to hear that we can’t make the payment happen right away. What do you suggest to resolve this?”
-Once you have negotiated a payment plan or an extension, follow up.–
“Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate you making this work. I will send you an email following this call with the new terms of payment. Would you mind responding to that email with your intention to pay on the agreed date?”
If nothing else is working, and you are really wondering how to remind someone to pay you a different way, it may be time to take them to lunch or drive to their office and have an old-fashioned, face-to-face talk. This probably only works with clients you know very well or see on a regular basis.
If this is your best tactic, again, be sure to be prepared. Bring the invoice and other information with you, and be ready to back up everything you say with proof. Also, consider bringing a small gift like a box of treats from a local bakery to help get the conversation started.
There is no exact script for an in-person conversation, but my advice is to keep things light. Bring up the project and say something like, “I thought that turned out really well, what were your thoughts?” Hopefully there aren’t any problems, but if there are, this is a great way to find out and then redirect to get past that hurdle. If the project was a hit, you can then mention, “I actually haven’t received payment for that one yet. Is there anything I can do to speed that along?”
3 Tips to get paid on time so you can avoid reminding someone to pay you
Collecting payment gets messier the longer it goes on, so the best strategy is to avoid late payments in the first place. Here are a few tips to help.
1. Collect payment before you do the work
Not every client is open to this option, but it is a great way to protect yourself as a freelancer. By collecting payment upfront, you never have to worry about how to remind someone to pay you after you’ve spent hours on their project.
2. Set clear payment terms
Particularly when you are just starting out in freelancing, it is super tempting to just dive into a project as soon as a client agrees to hire you. However, it is critical to have that hard conversation about money before you start working. Know when, how, and how much you will be paid, or don’t take on the project.
3. Use accounting software
There are so many low-cost or even free options for freelance bookkeeping, so there’s really no excuse to be using a pen and paper (or a messy Excel file) to track payments. Instead, choose one of dozens of billing tools to help you send perfect invoices and automatic payment reminders.
Collect payment with confidence
As a freelancer, negotiating, tracking and collecting payment comes with the job. The first time a client doesn’t immediately respond to your invoice, you are left scrambling to determine how to remind someone to pay you.
Have a plan in place so that, when it happens to you, you already know how to remind someone to pay you. With a little preparation, these conversations really aren’t as scary as they seem, and soon your cash flow will be humming along just like it should be.
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