the question today is: “how do you deal with clients that are taking forever to pay?”

before i begin working on a project i write up a contract that says what i’m designing and when it’s due to my client. i also include what the project fee is and when it’s due to me. i state that payment is due (this sometimes varies) within 30 days after receiving the invoice. if payment is late a 10% fee will be added to the total amount. we both sign and date and then I begin working. as long as you’re up front with them about when you want your money there should be no surprises. i’ve only had to hunt down a payment once. the client wasn’t trying to stiff me—the canadian postal service went on strike the day my payment was dropped in the mail. i had no idea.

if you’re struggling to get a payment from someone i suggest being polite when you’re requesting the whereabouts of your money. You could send a friendly reminder a week before your fee is due if you haven’t heard from them just in case they forgot. if they’re ignoring you, be a pest. call, email, tweet to them. and if that fails there is always small claims court that i don’t know anything about. has anyone had to go through them to get a payment? i’m curious if the process is worth it.

unlike katie, i have hunted down payments quite a few times. (you’re lucky!) and it’s definitely not my idea of fun. you don’t want to be naggy, but you deserve to be paid on time…so nag away. and i can’t stress the importance of a contract enough. be very upfront that the client has 30 days to pay you and you will charge a late fee if they don’t follow through with that. i can’t tell you how frustrating it is to work really hard for a client’s deadline and meet it…and then have them fail to pay you on time. unfair, right? stand up for yourself on this one, ok?

(illustration by katie evans. read more freelance advice posts are over here!)



Add your own

  • 1. Liz  |  April 11th, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Had no idea you would ever have to deal with this! I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t pay on time for work that is done – crazy! One of the crappy parts of being self-employed, but I’m sure there are many perks too :)

  • 2. Michaela @ Two and Twenty  |  April 11th, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Another great advice post! I’m sure a lot of designers do this, too: asking for a certain percentage of the full payment up front (if you know what the total is gonna be) before you even start doing any work. That way if they stiff you on the payment in the end, you’re at least getting something for your time. That, and have everything in writing of course.

  • 3. Hannah @ Sparrow + Spark!  |  April 11th, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Such great advice. You definitely deserve to be paid on time- definitely stand up for yourself!

  • 4. bri  |  April 11th, 2012 at 8:53 am

    oh, yes! definitely ask for a 50% deposit before you begin work. learned that one the hard way too!

  • 5. Laura @ anglopologie  |  April 11th, 2012 at 9:09 am

    awesome advice as always. I really appreciate these posts( as well as everything else of course)!

  • 6. muhasebe programı  |  April 11th, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for sharing!

  • 7. Kelly  |  April 11th, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I’ve only had to ‘hunt down’ payment once and it was so awekward! To top it off the client was 2 weeks late on paying and even though I sent an updated bill with the late fee they still only paid the original amount. I shrugged it off and was just happy have received the payment at all. Was I too soft? Should I have demanded the late fee?

  • 8. bri  |  April 11th, 2012 at 10:19 am

    hey kelly! there are plenty of times i have let it slide…i guess it depends on the relationship of the client and the situation, you know? i do try to stick to my guns more now though.

  • 9. Gusttavo Matteucci  |  April 11th, 2012 at 10:55 am

    It is really frustrating to go through that. I have been in those situations a couple of times, in which the customer takes his time to pay you… Thank God I never had anybody who was over 30 days past due. :)

  • 10. Victoria@VictoryPaper  |  April 11th, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I ask for 50% upfront and set up a payment schedule in the contract. Then I ask for the remaining costs before even going to the printers

  • 11. Christine  |  April 11th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Great post ladies! I have hunted down payment, absolutely not ashamed to admit it. ;) At first I felt uncomfortable, but then I started feeling taken advantage of and that tiny bit of anger helped me go after it! Also, my terms are now NET 15. I am not always paid in 15 days, but usually by day 30 it has arrived!

  • 12. kristina  |  April 11th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    this is GREAT, advice thank you!

  • 13. Carly  |  April 11th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks for the tips! The contract thing is the thing I need to wrestle with. What exactly does a contract look like? Do you still make up “friendly” contracts for “friendly” clients?

  • 14. Maria @ All Things Luxurious  |  April 11th, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! Great information! :-)

  • 15. Heidi  |  April 11th, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Ahh,this is so universal. Thought i’d share two things…one is this hilarious & priceless bit o’ advice: http://vimeo.com/22053820
    The other is that I ask for 1/3rd up front and then bill monthly based off the estimate. That way I’m getting paid along the way. I also get paid in full before anything launches or goes to press. It’s been monumental in avoiding these client annoyances. Good luck!

  • 16. Anonymous  |  April 11th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    great idea :) tnks

    a question,
    how you do this post? with movements?
    so pretty <3

  • 17. Nubbytwiglet.com » &hellip  |  April 12th, 2012 at 6:35 am

    […] • We’ve all been there: How do you deal with clients that take forever to pay? […]

  • 18. Ashley  |  April 12th, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Just wanted to throw in that this series is great… thanks so much for keeping up with it!

  • 19. Danie at Pasadya  |  April 12th, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Oh gosh, money! Stresses me OUT. But yes, I completely agree that you need to charge a 50% deposit upfront. It makes me believe that they’re likely in it for the long run. I did my first large custom painting for a client in December, and it was a big job getting the contract and terms together. I am SO glad I did, though. Payments went smoothly, thank goodness, but I realized that I freakishly undercharged for the painting.

    Oh well, at least there was a deposit and contract! I’ll live and learn. :) Thanks for your (and Katie’s) advice!

  • 20. Links List / April 2012&hellip  |  April 12th, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    […] to do when your clients don’t pay on time. Great advice via Design Love Fest on this tricky […]

  • 21. This Weeks Links 4-13-12 &hellip  |  April 13th, 2012 at 7:33 am

    […] documents a few moments from the Hindu Holi Festival of Colors.- Great timing: the ladies at DesignLoveFest offer up some good advice on clients that simply will not pay on time.- Sure, everyone has seen […]

  • 22. Marta Spendowska  |  April 13th, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I always ask 50% upfront and — if it’s a website — 1/3 in the middel of project and the erst before I launch or before the handover of files.
    I hunted the clients once. It went to small courts. Did it help? Partially. The clients virtually disappeared…
    She really didn’t want trouble, so started paying in installments.

    Great article!

    :: Marta

  • 23. sooki  |  April 14th, 2012 at 7:00 am

    love the ‘advice’ series and this is another great one! like many others, i also ask for a deposit to start the project. then when the project is complete, i’ll bill for the balance and will wait for payment in full before handing any files over or sending to print.

  • 24. Hilary  |  April 14th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    thanks for bringing up so many important issues bri! i’m studying graphic design & am happy to be learning all of this so early. also.. bring blogshop to ohio! xo

  • 25. pve  |  April 16th, 2012 at 4:49 am

    Fantastic series! I think one way to avoid is to be paid an advance or a deposit or get paid before the artwork is finished.
    It happens everywhere and it sure does mess with creativity.

  • 26. design love fest’s &hellip  |  May 29th, 2012 at 8:02 am

    […] How to deal with those who take forever to pay, their resources, what to charge your clients, what made them go freelance. Share this:TwitterFacebookTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. May 29, 2012 by korywoodard Categories: Design, inspiration | Tags: design, inspiration | Leave a comment […]

  • 27. ADVICE / 27 | D E S I G N&hellip  |  August 2nd, 2012 at 10:52 am

    […] check that the payment has been received on time. (it’s really frustrating when a client doesn’t pay you on time and you have to hunt them down) i also am a fan of wunderlist for my reminders and sharing lists […]

  • 28. design love fest’s &hellip  |  January 1st, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    […] How to deal with those who take forever to pay, their resources, what to charge your clients, what made them go freelance. Share this: This entry was posted in Design, inspiration and tagged design, inspiration on May 29, 2012 by Kory. […]

  • 29. ADVICE / 60 | D E S I G N&hellip  |  August 1st, 2013 at 9:49 am

    […] have him/her go over all my paper work and make sure my business is set up the best way. since i wrote this post about getting paid i’ve had a couple of sticky situations come up. it would’ve been […]

  • 30. design love fest’s &hellip  |  September 2nd, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    […] How to deal with those who take forever to pay, their resources, what to charge your clients, what made them go freelance. […]

  • 31. Cara Bertaruh Judi Poker  |  July 29th, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Fantastic series! I think one way to avoid is to be paid an advance or a deposit or get paid before the artwork is finished.

  • 32. swidinst.org  |  August 7th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post, big fan. Keep up the good work andplease tell me when can you publish more articles or where can I read more on the subject?

  • 33. Telak4d Isin4d  |  August 7th, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    It makes me believe that they’re likely in it for the long run. I did my first large custom painting for a client in December, and it was a big job getting the contract and terms together.

  • 34. http://www.photoshootoutapp.com  |  August 9th, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    this is a dfsdf



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