Late Payment: What I’ve Learnt from 80,000 Freelancers
This is a guest article from John at Zervant, who make online invoicing software designed to help freelancers and sole traders avoid late payment and get paid for the work they do.
In this post I’d like to share with you my list of the top four resources you can use to tackle late payment.
It’s based on my own research, combined with the insight I’ve gained from working with our users (to date over 80,000 of them). I hope you’re able pick up some great new tips and tools.
The list is by no means exhaustive, so if you think I’ve missed anything essential please do let me know in the comments section below!
Resource 1 – A Quality Invoice Template
A quality invoice template is a crucial first step when it comes to late payment.
Where’s the best place to find one?
I know I’m biased, but I’ve actually made a free invoice template myself. It comes in both Word and Excel, and is specifically for sole traders (it’s been downloaded over 7,000 times). Other great templates, in different designs and colour schemes, are available here.
Remember that whatever template you go for, it should definitely include the following:
- All relevant contact information (both yours and your clients).
- Payment terms, the due date, and your bank details (all clearly visible).
- Products/ services being invoiced (along with a detailed description of these).
- Any additional information required by your client eg. a purchase order number.
Resource 2 – Blog Posts and Articles on Late Payment
Reading about what other people in a similar situation have done is always a good source of information. Though when it comes to late payment the number of articles out there is, quite frankly, a little overwhelming.
Not to worry!! I’ve trawled through a fair chunk of them, and made a shortlist of what I think are the best ones:
- Katý Cowan (founding editor of Creative Boom) has a great 9 step guide on how freelancers can prevent late payment. It covers all the basics, and is a great intro on the subject. WikiHow’s post also covers all the essentials.
- Freelance Fees Guide has a handy “General Advice” section covering issues on late payment, and industry relevant information for different types of freelancers.
- If you’re feeling a bit frustrated or annoyed by a late paying client then it’s time to watch Mike Monteiro’s presentation. It’s a 40 minute presentation on late payment in the world of freelancing, packed with advice and inspiration (as well as the odd four word expletive).
- If you’re after stats or info on the subject there’s a great survey done by the Federation for Small Businesses (the FSB). It’s from 2011, so perhaps a little old for 2016, but it still drills down into the data quite well.
- If you’re after fresher data I suggest creating Google alerts for phrases such as “late payment uk” and “freelancer late payment”. That way you can get regular updates on what is going on. There are new statistics and reports published almost daily!
Resource 3 – Freelancer Forums
As well as specific posts dealing with late payment there’s a whole host of knowledge to be gained from online forums, where you get advice “straight from the horse’s mouth”. Here’s a few I recommend taking a look at:
- UKBF (UK Business Forums). Plenty of threads on the issue of late payment. Most are found under the “Legal” section in the “Running a Business” category. You can also use the search bar to look for a specific term. Worth checking often as new contributions are added on a regular basis.
- Freelance UK. Same as UKBF but more niche and relevant to freelancers. Simply type “late payment” in the search bar for relevant results. Last I checked there were around four pages worth of information.
Resource 4 – Legal Advice
Sounding out where you stand from a legal perspective on late payment is vital. Offending clients often try to play on a freelancer’s lack of legal knowledge. Here’s a few good (and crucially, free!) resources to get you started:
- Lovetts have a good introductory article on claiming late payment interest and compensation. They explain the ins and outs of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act.
- The Government has a good section on its site covering some of the legal basics.
- The Law Donut explains in a clear and concise manner how much interest you can charge.
- Rocket Lawyer have a comprehensive free tools section, including late payment letter templates and letters before action. They’re all free to download!
And there you have it. That’s my list of the top four resources for tackling late payment when freelancing. I certainly hope you found it useful. Feel free to add any thoughts or comments below. And by all means send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a tweet (@zervant). I look forward to hearing from you.