8 top tips for freelancers to avoid the threat of late-payments

On National Freelancing Day, Upwork outlines eight simple ways to minimise the chances of being paid late for freelance work

For the 4.5 million Brits who work independently as freelancers in the UK, time is money. We recently asked offline freelancers – those who do not use online platforms to arrange their work schedule – and found that shockingly, 81% have been paid late for a project they completed.

Even more worryingly, as a result of being paid late, nearly half (48%) of this group reported being unable to pay for basic expenses such as rent or credit card bills.

Freelancing is a fantastic career option for millions, offering a level of flexibility and control unobtainable in the traditional workplace. But freelancers deserve to be paid for their hard work in the same way as any other professional.

If you’re kicking off a career freelancing or have had issues in the past, these tips should help make sure you are paid on time and in full so you can concentrate on the task you’ve been briefed to do.

1. Do your research

Gain a solid understanding of the business and the contract you’re bidding on before accepting it or beginning any work. Do your research and, if anything isn’t clear, ask questions.

2. Keep track of correspondence

From texts to calls, make sure there is record of any agreements made between you and the client throughout the project.

3. Agree an advance

Based on your previous work and reputation you should be able to negotiate an advance payment or a point in the project – say half way – when some money is paid.

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4. Plan for change

Change is practically inevitable as projects progress and isn’t something to be concerned about – just be sure to address any changes with your client early on. Understanding when you might need to stop and renegotiate the contract will keep goals aligned and the project on track.

5. Act quickly

Send your invoice straight away while the client still has your fantastic work front of mind. Send an invoice in the post, attached to an email and leave a voicemail to guarantee the information has come through.

6. It’s about who you know

The accounting team are the best people to get to know as they are in control of the purse strings. This also means you keep your work and money issues separate.

7. Professionalise the process

Use an online tool to systemise your billing, invoicing and follow up correspondence. Online platforms like Upwork can help you with this process.

8. Trust your instincts

If you’re already working on a contract and an issue arises, it’s best to address the situation as soon as possible and try to resolve it with your client. There may be a time when you come across a client who is hard to please, but understand there’s a difference between being hard to please and having unrealistic expectations.

UK businesses are increasingly relying on freelance talent, but company’s payment terms haven’t caught up with this shift yet. Until then, freelancers can arm themselves against the threat of non or late payments by being honest and clear before accepting a contract and automating as many of the complicated financial processes as possible.


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