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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,

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.

About the Author
Andrea Wildt is co-founder of Harlow and previously a martech & demand gen freelancer. She is an avid scuba diver and lives in San Francisco with her dog, baby, and partner.

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