How to Beat the Clock and Get Paid Faster

by Charissa Arsaoui on January 14, 2011
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As an employee, your mission is to make money. This can be easier said than done.  If you freelance or work as an independent contractor, weeks can often go by before you see a check.  In fact, not getting paid on time is one of the biggest problems writers, designers, photographers, and entertainers face.

Getting what is owed to you can often be a tedious task.  To expedite the process, here are a few key tips.

1) Require a deposit upfront – Draft up an agreement that allows you to collect half of the payment up front and the remaining half upon acceptance from the client.  The client will have a harder time not paying you when they know they’ve already invested money into the project.

2) Invoice frequently - Include your name, address, phone number, and email address as well as the name and date of the project, a breakdown of all charges, and your taxpayer ID number (if necessary). Even small mistakes (like duplicate invoice numbers) are likely to hold up your payment. Number all invoices and keep diligent track of payments as they come in.

3) Put your payment terms in writing - Let your client know in advance what you expect, and print terms right on the invoice. Offer a discount for paying early, usually 1 or 2% of the total if the bill is paid in 10 days.

4) Accept payments via Paypal – Rather than have to wait on a check to be cut, why not sign up for a free Paypal account so clients can pay via credit card or their own Paypal accounts. You can have the money routed to your bank account in a matter of days or use a Paypal debit card to withdraw money and make purchases instantly.  The handy invoicing option built into Paypal makes requesting money from clients virtually hassle-free.

5) Thank your client for doing business with you - When you receive a payment on time, take a moment to thank the individual that sent it to you.  This fosters a sense of goodwill between both parties and makes it easier for you to collect a paycheck in the future.

When it comes to getting paid, communication is key.  Keep in touch with your clients and don’t hesitate to remind them when an invoice becomes past due.  A simple phone call or email may be all it takes to receive payment for the work you have done.

See also: Six Tips for Managing Cash Flow

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