The worst day for a freelancer is the day that their client refuses to pay them for completed services. While most freelancer-client relationships are trustworthy and professional, there is the occasional client who makes the process difficult and unacceptable. In order to protect yourself from unpaid invoices, you have to be willing to put in as many safeguards as possible. Learning what those are and how you can efficiently use them in court is the first steps to making life as a freelancer enjoyable and profitable. And, worst case, our online legal services can help resolve a variety of contentious issues.
Create a Contract
Even if the project is small and a one-time situation, you should always make a habit of having an agreement in place. A legal contract should clearly outline the following:
- Who owns the rights to the work
- Important deadlines
- Expectation for work completed
- The parties involved
- Pay expectation
Getting all of this out in the open from the very start will save headaches for the future. You should always discuss the terms of the project before beginning the work and only sign if you agree with those terms.
In the technologically-driven age that we live in, it’s effortless to track correspondence. If you take the discussion off the digital platform, just be sure to make a note of what was discussed. This not only provides clear documentation, but it could help identify any misunderstandings that you could clear up sooner rather than later.
Establish an Invoice System
Whether you use a website or have your own form, you should always have an invoicing system in place. This makes it simpler for you to submit to your client to request payment. It works as a professional reminder and has the work completed clearly outlined. Establish a plan for yourself for how you will handle unpaid invoices. A good example is to send an overdue payment reminder letter and then a follow-up plan if that goes unanswered. Be prepared for the potential of things going wrong so you can handle issues quickly and professionally.
The Law is on Your Side: The Freelance Isn’t Free Act
Fortunately, there are laws in place for the freelancer’s protection as well. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act involves many protections for freelancers. Included in the act is:
- The right to a written contract
- The right to timely and full payment
- Legal protection from retaliation
As a working professional, it’s important to understand that you have the right to fair and proper treatment by all of your clients.
Demand Letter for Money Owed
If you’ve established all these systems and protocols and clients still refuse to pay, you should feel empowered to send an official Demand Letter requesting payment. The letter should lay out the timeline of communications and events to date, be sure to be as detailed and specific as possible. Make your request professionally and politely, setting a deadline for payment, but also include an alternative action – forwarding the matter to an attorney, small claims court, etc. – that will go into effect if payment is not made.
Affordable Legal Services
If you would like assistance with creating a contract or enforcing one, then you should seek the help of a qualified lawyer. LawTrades is a marketplace for online legal services that connects clients with the appropriate service. Our lawyers are freelancers, too. They understand the importance of making sure that freelancers are treated properly. Be sure to check out our legal plans that offer ongoing legal assistance for a subscription price. You can select the longevity of your plan and reap the benefits of reduced hourly rates, a $0 service fee, and unlimited legal consultations.