How to Remind Someone to Pay You For Your Work

How to Remind Someone to Pay You For Your Work

If you’ve ever had to remind someone to pay you—you know it’s not fun. You do the work, you’re feeling on top of the world and like you just aced this project, the feedback is great, you send the invoice…and crickets.

Now the anxiety sets in, it’s time to send that dreaded payment reminder. We’ve all been there. No one wants to have to continue poking, asking for payment for the work they’ve done once, much less more than once.

While we can’t help you completely avoid this situation (we wish we could), we can help you do everything in your power to avoid late and missed payments.

Here are a few simple (but impactful!) recommendations we have for you.

While we can't help you completely avoid this situation, we can help you limit those late and missed payments!

Add Clear Payment Terms to Your Contract

You should kick off every project by communicating your expectations around payment upfront. And we don’t mean just a verbal agreement. You should have a written contract for every client you work with. That contract should include a payment section that clearly outlines when they need to pay you.

Do you expect a client to pay you within 15 days? Within 30? Document it and get that contract signed. Take it a step further by calling out your terms via email or in a meeting too, that way there’s no confusion, and nothing gets lost.

Voila! You now have a written contract, an email or verbal agreement, and a signature you can refer back to if you are having any issues collecting payment.

We’ve also seen more and more freelancers including late fees in their contracts, which can help as another incentive to get clients to take care of your invoice on time. We’ve seen late fees range from 1.5% to 5% and higher!

Pro tip: You can create, send and get signatures on your contracts in Harlow.

Provide Your Account or Payment Information Upfront

Make issuing the payment as smooth, easy, and convenient for your clients as possible. Chances are, they’ll be more likely to pay on time when the process doesn’t require extra effort.

Before sending your invoice, you should decide how you want to accept payment. If you’re not sure which payment options are available to you, here are a bunch to choose from:

Every invoice should not only include how a client should pay you but the additional relevant details necessary to actually get paid. Some examples of things you might want to include:

Your current address and contact information, in case your invoice gets sent on to another person outside of your main point of contact who might have questions.
If you’re accepting payment via ACH, make sure to include the correct routing and account numbers from your bank.
If you use PayPal or stripe to collect a payment, make sure the link is accessible and obvious.

The simpler you make it, the fewer excuses they’ll have to procrastinate.

Pro tip: If you use Harlow’s payment integrations on your invoices, all your client has to do is click one button and they can pay online through your payment processor of choice.

Automate Your Invoicing and Reminders

Consistency helps! Let clients know that invoices are delivered on a certain day each month—and stick to that schedule. This way they come to expect that email from you and are less likely to lose the invoice in their inbox.

Another simple tactic is to set up automated reminders. Reminders give your client a light nudge, even before an invoice is overdue, without you having to write that dreaded email—or even think about it.

To make your life easier, you can use Harlow to schedule your invoices in advance and set up auto reminders to go out after your invoice is sent.

If All Else Fails, Send a Tactful Follow-Up Email

If you’ve taken all of these steps and are still not seeing that payment come through, you might have to resort to a follow-up email. You deserve to be paid nothing less than what you’re owed and want to be honest and upfront about that, while also maintaining tact and respect if possible. Remember, not every client that doesn’t pay is doing it maliciously! So in your first or second reminder, make sure to give them the benefit of the doubt. We’re all human.

Here’s a template you can customize and send to your clients:

Hello NAME,

I’m reaching out because [INVOICE NUMBER] (also attached), has not been paid. It was due on [DATE], and is related to:

Work done
Work done
Work done

As per our contract, payment is due [PAYMENT TERMS].

Can you please track this down for me and get it paid as soon as possible?

Thanks in advance,
NAME

How to Remind Someone to Pay You? Do the Work Up-Front!

I know how stressful it can be to run after the money you’re owed, and how awkward it can be to initiate those conversations with your clients. But here’s the bottom line: You deserve to be paid for the work you do! You don’t have to settle for missed or late payments. Instead of worrying about how to remind someone to pay you, advocate for what your work is worth by putting the payment terms in writing, setting up late payment fees, and automating your invoicing process and follow-ups at the start.

If worse comes to worst, a simple but clear message may still be needed. If that happens, remember the value of your work and embrace that to be confident in your request.

How to Repackage Your Services and Sell the Value of Your Work

How to Repackage Your Services and Sell the Value of Your Work

Pricing and packaging are hard to nail down as a freelancer. No way around that.

Often when you start out freelancing, you don’t have the confidence yet to charge what your work is truly worth. We often set our rates too low and sell ourselves short.

This was true for Samantha and me when we first started freelancing. We were charging hourly and quickly realized that the value we offered was being lost as the hours were tallied up.

The good news is that while pricing and packaging your work appropriately and accurately is challenging, you are your own boss. You run your own business and you can shift things whenever you want to!

So if you don’t feel properly compensated for your work and you want to start charging more, it’s time to make a change. We’re going to guide you through how to reposition your packaging, and raise your rates confidently so you can get paid more.

And, we’re living, breathing proof that these steps work.

If you don’t feel properly compensated for your work, it’s time to make a change.

Shift your mindset from selling services, to selling outcomes.

Repeat after me: the work that you do is important. You don’t simply complete tasks, you help push businesses forward. For example, you’re not selling 3 blog posts for $1,000. You’re selling an outcome: content that’s going to increase traffic to your client’s site and ultimately lead to more revenue.

If you read that and are having a hard time figuring out the outcome and value you’re selling, try this:

Look back on your last five clients. What was the outcome of your work together? What value did they get from that work? It can even be helpful to look through past emails to see what exact words and phrases they used to describe your work.

Use this to build your outcome-based elevator pitch. The goal is to be able to explain the value you provide, in 2-3 sentences. Use this as the basis for sales calls, proposals, your website, and more.

For example, your elevator pitch might be: “I’m a content marketing and SEO expert with more than 2 years of experience working with early-stage startups. I help you scale organic traffic and revenue through optimized on and off-site content.”

From there you can detail exactly what the actual tasks and processes are to fulfill that outcome.

Position yourself as an expert partner.

It’s important that you not only think of what you offer this way but that you communicate it clearly to your potential client as well. When you start communicating the outcome and the actual value of your work (I.E. more website traffic, HR processes that impact the bottom line), it’s easier for you to charge a higher price and get paid what you deserve. It’s all about positioning!

That’s all well and good, but you may be wondering: what do you even mean by “positioning”? Great question! We’re talking about the way you refer and speak to your skill set and the overall value you’re bringing.

When you’re speaking to a new client, or putting together your proposal, be cognizant of the language you’re using.

For example, you might use language in your proposal like:

  • Together we’ll build a paid marketing strategy to…
  • Your in-house designers and I will partner on the creation of assets…
  • As your social media strategist, I’ll work closely with your existing team…

Notice how this language alludes to you partnering, rather than simply doing.

Make the change from hourly to retainer- or project-based pricing.

While this isn’t the right move for everyone, for many freelancers retainer- or project-based pricing is a way to distance yourself from explaining what goes into every minute that you’re working. What you do is worth more than the hours you put into it.

As the popular saying goes, “I’m not charging for the 10 minutes it took me to do this, I’m charging for the 10 years of experience I brought to it!” This is another powerful shift that starts with you (knowing the value of your work!) so your clients can understand it too.

What’s more, clients may not understand how much work goes into something you’re creating (remember, they’re not the experts in this, you are!). Rather than justifying what you know to be a reasonable number of hours, you can wrap everything up into one lump sum. Don’t forget to still be detailed in documenting the work included in that retainer or project so they can still clearly see the magnitude of work being done.

Use your website, marketing, and proposals as a way to communicate value.

You should be using your website, social media presence, and proposals as a way to communicate the value of your work clearly. This can be hard to do—even a humblebrag can feel uncomfy, we know!

But once you shift your mindset, lock down your elevator pitch and positioning, and tie in your pricing, it’s time to share that with the world!

Putting that message out there not only helps to get you in front of the right potential clients, but it allows you to sell value before you even touch base with a client for the first time.

Get a gut check from your community.

If you’re feeling unsure of your new positioning and pricing, run it by someone! Even if you’re running your business on your own, there’s an entire community out there who wants to help—and can provide insights you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.

Find someone you admire and ask for their feedback. Don’t focus too much on whether you have competitive rates. Instead, get their opinion on whether they think a potential client could understand the value you’re trying to get across.

If you don’t have anyone in your back pocket to speak to already, start connecting with other freelancers through online and offline communities. Check out our list of freelance communities we love if you’re not sure where to get started!

You can also find either Samantha or me on social and run it by us, we’re here for you! Connect with us on Twitter: @SamanthaAnderl and @thelittlestflea.

5 Simple Ways to Streamline Freelance Project Management

5 Simple Ways to Streamline Freelance Project Management

Freelance project management is often an afterthought, and if this hasn’t been an area of focus for you yet, that’s totally okay! In the first few months and years, all you’re focused on is getting clients and doing the work. As your roster of clients grows, it’s important that you start thinking about how to efficiently manage your clients and work.

When we say project management, we’re referring to the organization and management of your schedule, timelines, and resources. I know, I know, you don’t want one more thing to think about, but this is an important one!

If you’ve been feeling frantic or chaotic, this might be why. Without the right tools, processes, workflows, and time and communication boundaries, this feeling won’t go away.

The good news is, I’ve been there (oh, have I been there, check out mine and Samantha’s lessons learned), and I have a few tips to help you streamline your project management so you can run your business without your head spinning.

With the right systems and tools, you can run your business with ease.

Set Client Boundaries

Boundaries around time and communication are critical, both for your mental health and to streamline your freelance project management. If you set the precedent that you’re able to answer every message within minutes or are available for calls at any time, it can be hard to manage your schedule and get real work done—and if you’re not charging for that time, it adds up!

This issue can also affect your other client relationships and work, which doesn’t bode well for a long-lasting business. If you’re spending too much with one client, what happens to the others?

While there are many ways to set boundaries around time and communication, I have a few suggestions based on my own personal experience:

  • Document expectations around time and communication upfront. Specify when you’re available and how you prefer to communicate. Managing Slack pings all day long can be an exhausting and inefficient use of your time. Bonus: you can also reference this information later if there are questions or issues about your availability.
  • Choose one or two days a week for meetings. This totally changed the game for Samantha (my Harlow co-founder) and me. We scheduled all of our meetings on Tuesday so we could spend the rest of the week getting work done and focusing on our personal lives.
  • Stick to your boundaries. Bending once or twice for emergencies is fine, but letting it slide regularly means you’re back at square one. You’re telling the client that they can communicate when and how they prefer, which is not what you want.

Invest in the Right Software and Automate Where Possible

The right tools will make your life and business so much better—but notice how I said, the “right” tools. Having too many products onboard can be a distraction and add to that my-head-is-spinning feeling.

Once you have the right tools, consider how you can automate tasks. This speeds up your processes and keeps you on track, no matter how many clients you have. The idea is simple: less hands-on time equals more work getting done.

To streamline your freelance project management, consider all the ways you can use tools to automate your processes, including:

  • All-in-one management software: Harlow is obviously our go-to for managing everything from creating proposals and sending invoices to organizing tasks and tracking time in one easy-to-access place. We built Harlow to help you feel less stressed and more organized—a win-win! Bonus perk: you can schedule your invoices in advance so they get into your client’s inbox on the first of the month without having to remember to send them!
  • Meeting booking: Don’t play the back and forth game of When can you meet? Oh, that doesn’t work. What about this time? Okay, I can do that date but not that time. Those emails take precious minutes from your workday and you don’t always have minutes to give! Use a booking tool, like Calendly or YouCanBookMe, so all you have to do is send a link and let someone choose the time that works for them. So simple, yet so brilliant. And no, we don’t think this approach is impersonal, it’s efficient.
  • Client onboarding: Automate your client onboarding processes by creating templated checklists that you can use at the start of every engagement. For example, you may need to explain repeatable details like how you work, the tools you use, or the timeline you typically follow or get certain information from your client up-front. Document this all once so you can include it all in your proposal or send in a kick-off email at the start of every engagement.

Create a Clearly-Defined Scope of Work

This is one of the most important things I did when I was a freelancer. A clearly defined Scope of Work (SOW) sets everyone up for success because it outlines exactly what needs to be done and when.

The key to getting the most out of your SOW is the “clearly defined” part. A loose plan will make project management more difficult because the client doesn’t know what to expect and you don’t have deadlines. When this is defined, you can easily plan out the timeframe, assets needed, tools required, and more.

Here are some things that go into a well-defined SOW:

  • Clear project outline
  • Specific items/tasks/projects listed out
  • Timeframes and deadlines for each item listed
  • Specific details about communication and delivery of assets
  • Breakdown of pricing
  • Next steps to get started

If you want to build those long-term freelance relationships and keep your business humming, this can’t be overlooked.

Develop Standard Operating Procedures

An SOP is a checklist that you set once and then use again and again. In other words, it makes your life so much easier. For example, you can create a process for onboarding a new client, which might look like this:

  • Create and send the contract and proposal from Harlow
  • Create and send the first invoice from Harlow
  • Add tasks and project timelines to Harlow
  • Schedule kick-off call using Calendly

The key to making your SOP shine is including specifics. For example, reference the tool used for invoicing and link to your booking calendar for the kick-off meeting.

I know it seems simple, but as you grow, documenting these processes helps you get work done faster. And at some point, if your business is growing, you may need to bring on help, like a virtual assistant. Having this all documented and being able to simply hand over your checklist allows both of you to be more efficient and successful.

Ultimately, making a process repeatable is more efficient than making it up every time—and we’re all about efficiency here at Harlow!

Pro-tip: You can create these SOPs as task lists inside of Harlow so you can just clone them for each new client.

Collect Client feedback and Revisit Processes as You Grow

It’s great to get all of these pieces into place, but don’t pressure yourself into perfection. The processes you set up will be ever-evolving as you and your business grow and you figure out what works and doesn’t work for you.

Make the time regularly to reflect, so you can optimize as you go. Revisit your processes quarterly or every six months to make sure they’re still working for you.

And lastly, project management not only affects you, but your clients too. So it doesn’t hurt to check in with your clients as you’re reflecting. Are they having a good experience? Where do the processes you share with them need to be revised?

Alright, enough reading, it’s time to streamline your freelance project management.

We know you have a lot on your plate. It can feel daunting to start creating your processes, but a lack of organization can slow you down, make your head spin, and keep you from doing your best work. Use these freelance project management tips so you can do the work you love while thriving and growing your business.

Sole Proprietor, LLC, or S-Corp: How to Set Your Freelance Business Up for Success

Sole Proprietor, LLC, or S-Corp: How to Set Your Freelance Business Up for Success

If you’re a new-ish freelancer without a degree in accounting, trying to decode the legalese online about business entities can feel like translating an ancient manuscript. The acronyms, the liability language, the tax implications… It’s a lot. But there comes a time in every entrepreneur’s journey when they’re faced with the big question: Sole Proprietorship, Single Member LLC, or S-Corp?

We’re here to help you figure out how to structure your business for your greatest ease and benefit. So in this article, we’ll try to lay it all out in human terms, so you get a better sense of what these business entities are and how to decide which one is right for you. (Note: We highly encourage you to talk to a CPA or tax professional about how to structure your business—this is just a starter guide to help you understand each option.)

Sole Proprietorship, Single Member LLC, or S-Corp

Sole Proprietorship

What It Is: A Sole Proprietorship is a one-person business that can use an assumed business name (AKA a “Doing Business As” or “DBA” name) without forming any formal business entity.

The Pros: It’s easy, plain, and simple. You don’t need to register your business with the state or file separate taxes for your business. You just file all of your work income on your personal tax return.

The Cons: You have no protection from legal action, so if someone decides to sue you, they could come after your personal assets and potentially ruin you financially. You also need to provide your personal social security number as your tax ID on documents, so your SSN will get passed around to your clients via paperwork. And, you’ll have to pay the 15.3% FICA tax (AKA “self-employment tax”) on all of your income.

Who It’s Best For: A Sole Proprietorship is good for you if you’re just starting out with a side hustle and you’re not worried about the potential legal ramifications.

Single Member LLC

What It Is: A Single Member LLC is exactly what it sounds like—a limited liability company that is owned and operated by one person. This is by far the most common way to set up a freelance business.

The Pros: There is legal separation between you and your business, so if a client decides to come after you, they can’t touch your personal assets. It’s also relatively inexpensive to set up. Costs vary state to state, but you’re typically looking at $100-$200 to set up an LLC. And when you file your taxes, it’s streamlined—everything is done through your personal tax return, so you don’t have to file a separate return for the business.

The Cons: You will pay the 15.3% self-employment tax in addition to your personal income taxes. A single member LLC is considered a “pass-through,” meaning all profits and losses pass directly from the business to you, the individual owner. So, you may end up paying more in taxes than a corporation would.

Who It’s Best For: A Single Member LLC is good for you if you’re a serious freelancer and you want the protection of legal separation between you and your business—but you don’t want the headache of filing additional IRS paperwork each year (see below).

Single Member LLC Taxed as S Corporation

What It Is: An S Corporation (or “S Corp”) isn’t actually a legal business structure—it’s a tax election that determines how your business is taxed at the federal and state level. So you could register your business as a Single Member LLC but elect to file your taxes as an S Corp (and many entrepreneurs do).

The Pros: With a Single Member LLC electing to file as an S Corp, you get all the benefits of a Single Member LLC, plus a break on taxes. You actually pay yourself a wage as the business owner, so you get to skip that aforementioned 15.3% self-employment tax that comes with the other two options. Instead, you split the 15.3% with your business, paying 7.65% in personal payroll taxes and 7.65% in business payroll taxes (which you can write off as a tax deduction).

The Cons: S Corps require separate filings for the business and for you, which can make tax season a bit more complicated. You’ll also be required to pay payroll taxes on a quarterly basis, so you can’t skip out on filing four times a year, if that’s been a habit. (Hey, it’s not the worst habit to cut.) And although you get a break on the self-employment tax, you do have to pay the FUTA tax (or unemployment tax) now, which is 6.0% of the first $7,000 you paid to each employee (you) in wages throughout the year. And, of course, you’ll still pay personal income taxes on the salary you make, as you would with any designation.

Who It’s Best For: Electing to file as an S Corp is a good move for you if your business is making profits in the six figures and you’re willing to file extra paperwork each year in order to save on taxes.

Whether you’re just starting out as a new freelancer or you’re finally taking steps to legitimize your freelance business, we applaud you. This stuff ain’t easy or simple, but it’s well worth it to learn the lingo and make the right choices based on your situation. The more comfortable you get with the legal side of your business, the more confident you’ll feel when tax season rolls around—and really throughout the whole year.

Why We’re Building Harlow Using Freelancers

Why We’re Building Harlow Using Freelancers

Growing a business in 2022 looks a whole lot different than it did just a few years ago . After two years of a global pandemic, the remote work landscape has transformed. Businesses big and small are adjusting their staffing models to accommodate the new normal. And simultaneously, more and more workers are leaving their jobs to pursue a freelance lifestyle, with 28% of Americans now freelancing full-time—an increase of 17% from 2014.

28% of Americans are now freelancing full-time.

COVID was, unquestionably, a huge catalyst for this shift. Nothing says Quit! quite like cabin fever and existential dread. And in 2021, we experienced a “Great Resignation,” with record-high numbers of Americans leaving their jobs. But lockdown is not the only reason our freelance numbers are rising in the U.S. If anything, mass burnout just accelerated a trend that was developing long before COVID came to town.

The gig economy has been growing for years, and it’s thanks in part to the rise in remote work. As technology has evolved to better support distributed workforces, more companies have gone remote, with employees scattering the country and even the globe. And as companies have adapted, workers have gotten a taste of the freedom and flexibility that a remote lifestyle offers. (Spoiler: It’s great.)

Today, over half of non-freelancers are considering freelance work in the future. For workers, the growth in remote work raises big questions: Who do you want to work for—a company or yourself? Does the independence of freelancing outweigh the stability and benefits of a full-time job? And how much would your quality of life improve if you were to set off on your own and work on your terms?

All of these trends were taken into account when we started to ideate and build Harlow – a tool specifically designed for freelancers to manage their business.

While we know eventually Harlow will grow through a mixture of full-time employees and freelancers, we decided early on that we would lean on freelancers to grow and build our business as much as we possibly can (especially in the beginning.)

Here’s why.

Here's why we're building Harlow using freelancers.

#1: Freelancers know freelancing.

Our product is built for freelancers. Hiring them just made sense. We’re passionate about staying close to our customers, and having knowledgeable freelancers on our team helps us tune into the challenges our target customers are facing, so we can better solve their problems. You can trust you’re on the right track when the people building your software, writing your copy, and designing your website are the same people you’re marketing to.

#2: Freelancers help us stay competitive.

They work with other businesses that are innovating and growing in their respective industries. They’re exposed to a myriad of problems and solutions each day, which gives them a wide perspective of what works and what doesn’t. This gives us a major competitive advantage. We know that the folks helping us grow are continually growing themselves.

#3: Freelancers help us move quickly.

We’re typically working with experts in their fields. They’re ready to rock sooner than an in-house hire would be, which means we can build and innovate more quickly.

As two former freelancers turned co-founders, Samantha and I are big fans by default, so it’s extremely gratifying for us to work with other freelancers who we can learn from each day. We built Harlow because we deeply believe that the future of work can and should be freer. We left our full-time jobs years ago seeking more balance, stimulation, and autonomy, and today we’re building a business from the ground up with those values front and center.

We’ve learned that you can prioritize your well-being while also creating a thriving business. Professional success doesn’t have to come at the expense of your mental health or your family.

It’s our vision to help other freelancers claim the lives they want by building businesses that sustain them and fulfill them, rather than depleting them.