Freelancing has many nice perks, you get to choose your own hours, work in coffee shops, choose the projects you want to work on and fire unsuitable clients. That’s all very nice and from a distant it looks like a dream come true. Yet, freelancers never talk about the cons of being an independent. The dream life can easily turn into a nightmare if we don’t set a plan B for when money is not coming in.
Unsavoury turns come in every shape and color, yet, one of the most stressing part of being a freelance is late payment or not payment at all! The lights go red and we switch into a survival mode. There is not exit door and not emergency plan. If this ever happens to you, keep calm, there are some ways around.
What to do when money is not coming in
- Keep in contact with your client and make sure he/she knows the payment is due. Sometimes people are too busy to remember when they have to pay.
- If you can, give your client a call. Quite often people need to listen to the human being behind the project.
- Sign an agreement before you start to work, by doing this you’ll protect yourself when things go wrong.
- Join a freelance board or organisation, they know how to help freelancers going through difficult times.
- Depends on your country, in some areas you’re more protected than other cities. Find out about your rights and wait few days. If you haven’t heard from your client, you may need to talk with a higher up in the company. Reach out a senior member of the staff, explain politely what’s going on.
- Money will eventually come, breath. I know it sounds counter productive, but you need to recharge before you commit to other projects. Take some time off, even one afternoon free can help you recover from the stress of not being paid.
Many freelancers start small, then when they have enough clients to sustain the freelance business they take the leap. There are millions of ways to do it. Every step towards independence will depend on your personal circumstances. That said is always wise to keep multiple streams of income until you are totally sure the freelance business is going to bring enough money to pay the bills.
Also, make sure you have a plan B for when things go wrong. At some point things will get rough for whatever reason. So you need to be ready to navigate those times. I’ve learned this the hard way. It’s ok to fail, failing doesn’t mind you got everything wrong. It means you’re trying, you’re experimenting. you’re learning. This is real life. You have to be willing to try different things until you find a system that works for you. Are you’re thinking on going independent? I have these tips to help you get things right.
Tips to go independent the right way
1) Know your clients, but more important know yourself. If your gut feeling is telling you not to work with that client probably it’s right. Listen to your inner voice before you commit to a project. Quite often a bad client can cause unwanted situations, plus, that time could be spent doing something more interesting.
2) Always ask for a deposit, I made that mistake at the beginning never again! You could work on millstones and get paid every time you complete a section. That way you make sure the money will come. In addition, your client will be able to see the project moving forwards and get more involved. It’s a win-win for you and the client.
3) Keep the communication flowing, even small updates will make a huge different. It’s important that the client knows you’re there. So any doubts that might arise will be sorted fast. Make yourself heard at all times.
4) I know is better said than done, but having money aside for emergencies is a life saviour. This is the best plan B you can have.
5) Try to keep a personal project running, even if it brings a small income. At the end of the month it all sums up. Some bloggers have e-books, courses and even e-commerce sites. Don’t think you’re going to get rich quick with these projects. It takes a hell of a lot of time to build trust and make money. But any digital business can help when you’re in limbo.
6)Also, there are few sites that pay you for making content, again is not a get rich quick scheme, but you could build an audience and get paid for your content. Check this
7) Offer your services like you life depends on that, in fact your life depends on that! Don’t be scare of asking people about their needs and what you could do to improve their lives. I was so shy when I first started, now I’m not scare anymore. Remember if you don’t ask you don’t know, maybe there is a client in the yoga class with a problem waiting to be solved. Go and ask you have nothing to lose!
8) Be part of a community, any community digital or physical. They’ll be the first to come to rescue you when you’re in deep trouble. Don’t believe me? Many creatives have a Patreon account in order to get help, and they do get help. Also asking on forums is a great way to tell your story. Share with the community your situation, more often than not people will be happy to help you.
9) Digital agencies may need your skills. If they don’t answer your e-mails straight away insist. The fact that they don’t respond now doesn’t mean they don’t need someone like you in the near future.
10) Create, yes create I know I said take a break. But, when you come back, make sure you continue creating awesome stuff. Learn, get better, experiment and repeat. This is a way of life and you are here for the long run. Your portfolio will get bigger, you’ll get happier and eventually money will come.
Are you a freelancer? Did you even have a late payment? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.