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What can freelancers do when clients don’t pay for their work?

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2022 | Freelancing

Working as a freelancer is an ideal arrangement for many modern professionals. You get to control what work you do and the schedule for your daily life. You get to pick and choose your clients based on how much they pay you or how interesting a project seems. If you have issues with certain coworkers, you can choose not to take projects that hire those professionals in the future.

However, there are many trade-offs that come with the autonomy of being your own boss. Freelancers sometimes go through dry spells when they can’t find enough work. They can also run into problem clients who fail to pay them in full for the work that they perform.

How can you protect yourself against a non-paying client when you have already done the work?

Review your contract or communications

If you agree to perform more than $800 worth of work, then you likely have a written contract with the other party that hired you. Even if you took a small $200 project, you likely have written communications with the client despite not drafting a contract. 

Although you may usually expect payment within a certain number of weeks, the company that hired you may have a different typical turnaround time. Some businesses take up to 90 days before paying their freelancers. You want to make sure you are actually outside of that window before you take additional steps. 

Communicate in writing with the client

Advising the client that you have not received payment in full can sometimes resolve the issue. If they are unresponsive to you, then you may want to have a lawyer send notice to the company on your behalf.

Don’t be afraid to take legal action

There are some businesses and professionals that think they can get away with bullying and refusing to pay freelancers because they don’t have a company supporting them. When you have your own representation, the business that failed to pay you will know it needs to take your request seriously.

More importantly, your attorney can then initiate proceedings in civil court if the company is non-responsive or still fails to pay the full amount due. Taking legal action won’t hurt your reputation, except perhaps among those who would try to avoid paying for your work.

If you have done the work, you deserve the pay. Holding clients accountable for contract breaches can be a frustrating but important step to take as a freelancer if someone tries to walk away without paying an invoice in full.