How to Get Paid as a Freelance Consultant

Working as a freelancer or a consultant has several attractive benefits. You can be your own boss, you can set your own prices, and you have the flexibility that many other professions don’t offer. 

But, there’s one thing that’s difficult for many freelancers—tracking down payments.

In fact, over 70% of freelancers report difficulty getting paid as a freelancer at least once in their career with an average loss of $6,000 a year, according to research by the Freelancer’s Union.

I experienced similar problems with getting paid on time earlier in my career. While you can’t guarantee that a client will pay you, there are ways to make collecting payments easier. Namely, it helps to invest in invoicing software that makes sending payments a seamless process.

This article will offer tips on how to increase the likelihood of getting paid as well as software you can use to make the process easier for your clients.

7 tips for getting freelance clients to pay you (and pay you on time)

While picking an invoicing software is an integral part of making it easier to collect your cash, there are some things you can do that will help you avoid non-paying clients and ensure faster payment. Here are some tips.

1. Vet your clients

Before you take on a new freelance client, do your homework. Make sure the person reaching out to you represents a reputable company that is known for paying freelancers. You can also reach out to other freelancers that write for the publication/blog and ask them questions about payment.

Freelancer, Monisha Arya from Arya Communications, says she’s very selective about the clients she picks. There are several reasons why it makes sense to be picky about who you work with, and the biggest one is making sure you get paid what you’re worth.

freelance tweet that reads "verrrry selective with who i will have as a client"

2. Talk about money upfront

Let’s normalize talking about money. It can be awkward, but it shouldn’t be. After all, the reason you enter into a contract with someone is to provide a service in exchange for some clams. Before you get too far into the process, talk about your prices, payment methods, and payment terms. 

For example, I recently hired a subcontractor to help me with some work. In the first email she sent me, she outlined her prices and asked if Payoneer was an acceptable payment platform (yes, it was). Win-win!

3. Say “no” to clients who say your prices are too high

The social team at freelance writing agency, Fancy Comma, LLC offers good advice. They say to say no to clients that either notoriously don’t pay on time or who are giving you grief about your rate.

freelance tweet that reads "yes, this. definitely look for red flags, too. say no to clients who don't pay on time or who are giving you grief about your rate. it's what happens in other industries. for example, i wouldn't be able to buy groceries if i said i'd pay the cashier two weeks from now..."

If your potential client thinks your rates are too high, it’s possible they might not have the budget to support the work you will do for them. If this is the case, run.

4. Make clients sign a contract

Most successful freelancers I know won’t start working with a new client until the client signs a new contract.

For example, Juwaria Merchant, says she ensures she gets paid by sending a contract that stipulates payment terms.

freelance tweet that reads "a contract that stipulates all the payment terms!"

Every freelance proposal should include the project details, outline the scope of work, a contract, and define how much the client will pay you for specific services and deliverables. Also, include the payment terms (e.g., Net-0, Net-30, Net-60, etc.)

5. Shoot for Net-0 payment terms

It’s not a stretch to say most freelancers agree that the best clients are the ones that pay the second they get your invoice. Yes, these clients exist.

It’s not always possible to get a client to agree to Net-0 terms. This is especially true if you’re working for a large corporation with a big accounting team and set processes.

However, it’s worth it to ask your clients for Net-0 payment terms. This way, it’s easier to collect payments right away, instead of having your clients forget about your invoice.

6. Ask for payment in advance

Instead of waiting till you’ve done all the work and sent the deliverables to get paid, ask for a deposit. 

freelance tweet that reads "i ask all new clients to pay 100% in advance for smaller projects, or some percentage (50% usually) in advance for bigger projects. i've only broken this rule twice, and it was one of those times that i dealt with a late-paying client."

Many freelancers will ask for 50% up front. Others will ask for the whole fee up front.

7. Invest in an invoicing software

Another recommendation freelancers give is to use invoicing software. For example, Shona Chambers, says she saw an increase in payments when she switched from sending paper invoices to sending electronic invoices that send automated reminders.

freelance tweet that reads "using an invoice software that sends automated overdue notices at 7 and 14 days. i found a change between using paper only invoices."

Here are some features you want to look for in an invoicing software as a freelancer:

  • Inexpensive – If you’re a one-person band, then you shouldn’t be paying an arm and a leg for invoicing software. There are several on the market that will do the trick, so opt for one that doesn’t break the bank.
  • Automation – Pick a software that sends automated reminders to clients to pay your invoices.
  • Integrations – The software you choose should include payment integrations. This means a client can click on a button on your invoice and pay via credit card, PayPal, or Venmo. 
  • Reporting – Consider investing in a software that tracks which clients have paid and those who have not paid. This will make it easier to track down payments.
  • Accounting integration – A great way to make taxes easier at the end of the year is to invest in an invoicing software that integrates with your accounting software. 

Top invoicing software programs for freelancers

Now that you know what to look for in invoicing software, let’s talk about some invoicing tools for freelancers that are worth checking out.

1. Invoicely

invoicely invoice and accounting software for freelancers

Invoicely is an excellent program for independent contractors. It offers a free service for freelancers that don’t have too many clients and only send invoices every so often.

If you have many clients and send several invoices a month, you can upgrade to a basic, professional, or enterprise plan. The good news is even the enterprise plan is inexpensive at $29.99 a month.

Top features include effortless invoicing, online payments, time tracking, expense tracking, and reporting.

2. Wave Invoicing

wave invoicing software for freelancers

Wave Invoicing is another software worth checking out. If you are a freelancer that works with small teams or hires subcontractors, I’d recommend Wave over Invoicely.

Wave offers invoicing, accounting, online payments, and payroll. If you have to pay team members or subcontractors, it helps to have your payroll integrated into your invoicing and accounting software.

Wave is also inexpensive. It offers a free, pay-per-use, and monthly payment agreement based on which features you use.

3. FreshBooks

freshbooks accounting software for freelancers

FreshBooks is technically an accounting software that includes invoices. If you have a larger freelance operation or somewhat complicated accounting, then FreshBooks is the way to go.

FreshBooks includes accounting, integrations, expenses, mile tracking, online payments, proposals, time tracking, invoicing, estimates, clients, mobile capabilities, projects, and reports.

It’s a great all-in-one tool for freelancers that will help you manage several aspects of your business.

Get your freelance business started with your website

While accepting payments is an integral part of building your business and getting paid on time, remember that building a business starts with a great freelance website.

HostGator offers affordable, reliable, and secure web hosting. Not to mention, we have a website builder and one-click WordPress installation. Check out our hosting plans today.

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.