If you build websites or sell from an online shop it’s easy to get paid – you just make sure you have plenty of payment buttons for your customers to click (although you’d be surprised how many people I work with who complain they don’t make any money yet don’t actually have any payment buttons out there!
But if you deal with people on a more personal level, for example as a freelance writer, a coach, a coder, designer or webbie it can be a lot harder than you think to actually ask for the money.
Sure, if you’re done the work and your fee is now due, you can follow up with an invoice and then a series of emails or phone calls if the payment doesn’t arrive.
But what happens when you’re actually striking the deal?
How do you broach the subject of getting paid in that situation?
As a freelancer you’ll know that discussing the project is 90% about what your client wants, and when it comes to discussing ‘awkward’ things like your expenses, your duties and (heaven forbid) the FEE you’re going to charge it can be a lot harder to broach the subject.
Here are a few tips that might help:
1. Realise that when you talk about money your client will see you as professional not annoying. If you hire someone who doesn’t agree an hourly rate or price for a commission or project then you feel as though you’re working with an amateur, or worse, someone who is desperate and will work for any fee.
Make sure you choose a moment to discuss your rates and what you will provide. It makes things clearer for both you and your client and will help them to feel they’re dealing with a professional.
2. Use silence and don’t make excuses. When it comes down to discussing your fee, or slightly easier, when your client asks for your price say “For this project my fee is £XXX”. Then shut up. Don’t make excuses or start to mumble and excuse as to why the fee is so much. Tell them the price, smile, look them in the eye and then wait. Nine time out of ten your price will be accepted without question, but if negotion is needed, you’ve started from YOUR price, not theirs.
3. Make it easy to actually get paid. Today there are apps, plugins and card readers than mean your iPhone or tablet can become a point of sale terminal pretty much anywhere. If you find it uncomfortable to ask for your client’s card details during a meeting, DO make it clear how and when they should pay.
Tell them you’ll send them an email with payment details in it. Give live (clickable) links in your email explaining how they can pay you – BACS and Paypal are pretty much instant these days and if you include a 24 or 48 hour deadline ‘Pay by XXXX date to lock in my services’ and you’ll really stay on top of your cash control. Most of all make it really clear to your client, so there’s no confusion about payment method and terms.
By becoming confident that you’re good at your job and realising that a big part of what you do is money management, you’ll keep the cash flowing and avoid those nasty broke periods…
…and don’t forget to politiely confirm that you’ve recieved payment when it arrives!
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