Working as a freelancer brings many opportunities and a sense of freedom. More and more people are leaving their traditional job and becoming independent masters of their time. However, a freelancer also has his own shadows, which we usually only learn about when we get into trouble.

Being a freelancer, it is difficult to maintain a financial balance. Sooner or later, a customer who does not pay will come to everyone who offers services online.

Do you know what further disturbs this balance? Weeks and months go by, and there is no question of paying for the work done. When you work alone, the issue of late payment can be a separate issue. This is especially true for those freelancers who do not combine full-time work with remote work and for whom orders are the most important source of income. According to the data, 39% of freelancers admit that during their work they were denied payment at least 1 or 2 times.

Of course, there are various misunderstandings: the invoice is lost, the client forgets, lingers, or just leaves the city, so it is very important to know your rights in the labor market.

There are some unpleasant, not trivial steps that you can face if you do not know the law, so you need to protect yourself from unreliable customers. Read more about it below.

How to prevent cases of non-payment

  • Prepaid expense. In order to insure yourself, you can ask the client for a partial prepayment. For example, it could be 50% before the start of work and 50% after. This will allow in case of disputable situations to save at least part of the money for the time spent.
  • 100% prepayment. This method is not always possible, especially if you are a beginner specialist. However, you can try to suggest such a method.
  • Fund reservation. Use third-party services like Upwork to conclude secure transactions. Funds are reserved for the duration of the project, and after the delivery of the work, they are credited to the freelancer’s account. This can be a great compromise for both sides.
  • Use an alternative method. Let’s say you are a 3D designer and develop models. You can start to sell files online using the website. Just install the payment option and you will immediately receive money to your account, and the customer will receive the product by email. This is the usual way of shopping, so it will be comfortable for the customer.

6 tips on what to do if you are not paid for your work

Examine your contract and send an invoice

Guided by the principle of limited trust, every time a new customer appears, you should formalize the cooperation for your own safety, which means that you need to sign a contract or fill out a simple order form. It is enough that the document was printed, signed, and sent by the client in the form of a scan. Be sure to indicate the amount, terms of cooperation, and date of final payment.

If you haven’t received your invoice after receiving the payment, it’s a good idea to resend it. Emails often lost your inbox, so e-mail is a good way to protect your interests, as it leaves a tangible mark. This effect will not be provided by a meeting or telephone conversation.

Then give the customer a few days to respond before proceeding.

Contact the manager

Most likely, the freelancer will not come into contact with the person responsible for payment.

With a phone call, you can learn more about the customer. Just call the organization, asking for general information about the business manager. After that, you can write a letter, attach a copy of the contract signed by both parties, and an unpaid bill. This will make a small breakthrough in the refund procedure.

Feel free to indicate how long the invoice is overdue, but do everything in a professional and polite manner.

Think about how far you want to go

Warning calls and letters don’t always bring the case to an end. Sometimes a client thinks that a freelancer is bluffing, threatening to sue, or that you have come across scammers or people hoping for free money.

If your efforts are not yielding results, and it is likely that this client will avoid payment, you may not have better options than to take your case to court. Of course, it is not necessary to have a lawyer to win the case, so if you prepare and document everything well, there is a chance to save your own money and get a payment order, which becomes final if the defendant does not appeal.

Many lawyers also provide free advice and solutions for situations like this over the phone.

Remember that litigation is a difficult and time-consuming path that does not guarantee a decision in favor of your party. In such cases, perhaps the best option would be to drop the claim and write off the non-payment as a tax loss and instead work on finding new reliable customers. In any case, this is a good lesson for the future.

Electronic court

An e-court is nothing more than an electronic payment slip. This is not a classic court, but a place where a trial is conducted and the case is transferred to a bailiff. The freelancer prepares a detailed description of the situation; he does not need to add any evidence to the case. If the person who made the decision recognizes the validity of this request, he issues an order for payment, which is automatically sent by traditional mail. A total of 14 days are provided to repay the debt. If the executor still does not receive his remuneration, the electronic court issues a so-called clause on enforcement.

Fortunately, freelancers understand that payment problems can be resolved with the director, and they do not have to deal, for example, with phone calls, certified letters, or lawsuits. If you follow all the terms of cooperation, the customer should not have problems with you in the future. But an independent worker needs to find out if he wants to deal with such a client in the future because if he has to fight for his money every time, such work takes a lot of energy, time, effort, and money. Therefore, unreliable people should be identified in time before the project is completed.


Fortunately, most people can compromise, find solutions, and rebuild their relationships in any situation. All you need is the right approach, discussion, and negotiation. Emotions do not contribute to talking about money. One should not take a non-paying client too personally, but as a business partner with whom one should have a diplomatic relationship. Treat such clients firmly but carefully. If you can do this, there is still a chance to avoid litigation and debt.

Author Bio: Alyse Falk is a writer working for Ivory Research writing service. She handles stories about the latest developments in the field of technology. Passionate about AI, Alyse has extensive experience writing articles and essays on data-driven analytics, cloud computing, cybersecurity, machine learning, and IoT devices. In her spare time, Alyse enjoys reading about all things innovative and in the field of technology. She also enjoys playing tennis and doing yoga on the weekends.