Whether you’re supplementing your income to help pay bills, trying to fluff up your savings account for vacation, or simply looking to be your own boss, many people have found themselves turning to freelancing and/or consulting in their various fields to bring in that extra money.
You don’t have to look far to find success stories. There are so many people who’ve made freelancing and consulting their primary source of income, it really goes to show what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it. Of course, there are issues with the freelancing process, as with any occupation. One of the biggest problems freelancers face today is delivering their assignment and finding themselves being stiffed on the bill. It happens. And, more often than not, the freelancer is left with little to no recourse to collect the outstanding compensation which is rightfully owed to them.
It’s a frustrating situation, for sure. You pour your effort, time, and possibly even resources, into creating the perfect project for the client. You know your work is high-quality and well worth the price you’ve set. So, why aren’t they paying? And, even more important, how can you go about collecting those fees you’ve worked so hard for? There is hope for the jilted freelancer. Here are some effective and ingenious ways to retrieve those elusive funds…
Consider your Salary
Understanding what you’re really worth is the first step profiting from your consulting or freelancing position. The average consultant salary is around $75,000 per fiscal year, which is actually a surprisingly high amount when compared to the average for general white-collar occupations. If you’re not making anywhere near this amount, it’s time to change things up in your day-to-day operations. If you know what you’re worth and set a firm minimum price point which reflects the high quality of your work, it will help to deter those who cannot actually afford your services. Of course, there will still be those clients who, it seems in hindsight, most likely had no intention of paying from the start. It’s these folks who make us cringe and make it necessary for articles like this.
You worked hard and you deserve to be compensated for your time and efforts. If you find yourself facing clients who are constantly trying to negotiate your baseline consulting salary, reassert your position and decline the work if they aren’t getting the idea. It may seem like a bad idea to turn down work, but rejecting work from those who you aren’t sure will even pay will leave you open for jobs which are more likely to show a good ROI. Time is money, especially in the freelancing/consulting industry.
Built-in Business Security
You should feel secure and in control when you’re your own boss. Instead, when you’re left with nothing after working on a client’s project, you can end up feeling like a failure. Obviously, it’s not your fault the client reneged on their end of the deal. If you’re just getting into the freelancing or consulting industry, it’s wise to take your time when setting up your business model to ensure consistent payments for your work. If you’re already past that point, there are ways to go about getting the money you’re owed. First, let’s take a look at some key points to include in your initial business plan.
- Set up an ‘up-front’ payment system. Either require half of your freelancing or consulting salary before you begin working or even ask for the full amount up-front. You should probably have a lot of verifiable experience and positive feedback from many previous clients before this tactic will start working as well as it’s intended.
- If you’re working with a client who sends more than one project, consider setting up a retainer account. This will ensure you have consistent money coming in at all times.
- If you’re finding it difficult to snag a client with the up-front payment method, consider offering a discount for your services, but only if they pay first, and in full!
- Set up a comprehensive and user-friendly database to track your earning and set reminders for yourself to monitor the data every so often. There are a lot of apps on the market in this area, such as Daily Income(iPhone/apple/mac) and Balance Book (android/win).
Get it in Writing!
Rather than automatically assuming your client has nefarious motives when you don’t immediately receive the expected compensation for the job you’ve completed, it will behoove you to keep the client on your side. Give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, we’re all only human. Maybe their computer crashed or they’re completely swamped with family priorities. Try to be understanding, but also keep your own goal in mind: getting paid. You can still, of course, get in contact with the client in regards to your payment issue. Try taking a more subtle tactic than just outright asking to be paid. You can inquire about how their payment process works (even if you already know, this will get their mind moving in that direction if, perhaps, it has just slipped their mind).
Also, consider asking (preferably via email) for a report of all work you’ve done for the client to date. Having this information is not only useful for your own data, but it will be very effective when seeking other methods of recourse.
3rd Party Collections
If you’ve tried all of the above techniques and you’re still fighting to receive your well-deserved payment, you might want to look into hiring a third party collection agency to assist in retrieving those outstanding funds. Agencies such as And Co are well-versed in this field and will fight for your rights as an independent contractor. Remember to exhaust all other options before going down this route, though, as it can end up being a long and drawn out process. If you haven’t yet reached out to the client’s superiors or the higher-ups of your specific freelancing/consulting service, definitely do so first!
You’re Worth It!
Don’t sell yourself short. You’re worth every penny you say you are. Nobody knows your talent better than you, so you’re the perfect person to set your price. Stand your ground and follow through with your business model and you’ll begin seeing your profits increase in no time! Your freelancing and consultant salary should be reflective of the superior quality of the work you provide. Don’t let those slippery clients leave you drained- both in energy and funds. You have plenty of options and, remember, there’s always tomorrow!
Author Bio: Adrian Rubin is a climate change advocate and freelance writer.