One of the most common challenges freelancers experience is getting paid. We want to help. In this article, we’ll share how to write an email to a customer for payment in a friendly way.
In all industries, there is an etiquette when it comes to email communications, and freelancing is no different. It’s a great skill to learn and can be helpful to improve no matter where you’re at in your career - whether you’re trying to collect a payment or share a deliverable.
Before we get into what happens if a client is late on a payment, it's important to talk about how you asked for payment in the first place. Your invoice should be professional, clear, easy to access, have all the pertinent information, and sent to the right person. This can be a complicated process, especially if you are new to the freelance world. Fortunately for you, Indy has an invoicing tool that can help you. You can even try it for free.
But let's presume that despite your perfect invoice a client still hasn't paid you on time. How can you proceed without stepping on toes, losing a client, or delaying a payment even further?
But First, Don’t Panic
If your client’s payment is already overdue, don’t fret, especially if you’ve worked with this client before. Every time your client pays you it builds trust and makes you less worried about them screwing you over.
If this is the first time you’ve worked with them, don’t jump to the worst-case scenario and wondering how you’re going to make rent. Focus first on the process of collecting payment before stressing yourself out and wondering what you’ll do if you don’t get paid.
Wishing for an easier way to get paid?
Start with an invoice template, link hours directly with Time Tracker, and give clients one-click payment options. Start for free.
Payment Reminder Emails
Friendly Payment Reminder Template for One Week Out
Sending out a payment reminder one week before the payment is due is a helpful way to bring your payment to your client’s mind before it’s due. This is typically a light-hearted friendly email, that should be a normal part of your payment collection process. This will help get a higher percentage of your payments on time and before the due date.
Subject: Friendly Reminder: Invoice [#] Due in One Week
Hi [client name],
I hope things are well. I really enjoyed working on our project together and wanted to reach out to give a quick heads up that Invoice [#] is due one week from today.
You can view the invoice here [invoice link] and view the different payment methods.
Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the invoice, payment methods or services rendered.
Friendly Payment Reminder Template for One/Two Days Late
Sending a quick email right after the invoice is due keeps it in the front of mind and makes the payment not extend for too long. You’re able to give them a grace period of a few days before sending this out, especially if the due date fell over a weekend.
Subject: Friendly Reminder: Invoice [#] Past Due
Hi [Client Name],
I hope you’re having a great day. Based on my records Invoice [#] is overdue as of [date]. There’s currently a balance of [balance owed].
For your convenience and ease, I’ve attached the invoice and payment methods here [insert invoice link].
Please let me know if any issues arise with the payments or you have any additional questions.
Thanks so much,
Friendly Payment Reminder Template for One Week Late
In order to get paid, one of the strongest tactics to use is consistency with email follow-ups. This doesn’t mean that you send an email every day, but a weekly or biweekly email won’t come across poorly. Use this template below to send an additional payment reminder to your client or modify it to your discretion.
Subject: Friendly Reminder: Invoice [#] One Week Past Due
Hi [Client Name],
I hope your week is going well. My records indicate that I haven’t received your payment for Invoice [#] of [invoice balance] which is now one week overdue. Would you mind looking into this for me?
Please let me know if there’s someone else I can contact regarding payment, or if there is a system or process that I can make payment easier on your end.
I’ve attached the invoice here for your convenience [insert invoice link].
If you have any update on when this payment should be received, it would be greatly appreciated.
All the best,
[insert first name]
Friendly Payment Reminder Template for Two Weeks Late
It’s okay to start switching the tone of the email as your invoice becomes to be two weeks to a month late. We’d never recommend being rude to your client, but it’s okay to have a more serious tone.
Subject: Invoice [#] is Two Weeks Past Due
Hi [Client Name],
I wanted to reach out because my records indicate that payment for invoice [#] is two weeks late. Do you have any updates on when this should be received?
I’ve attached the invoice here [invoice link] for your convenience. Please let me know if there’s any way I can be of further assistance.
Please note, that any payments that are over 30 days are subject to a late fee as described in our contract terms.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
[insert first name]
Final Friendly Payment Reminder Template for One Month Late
In the email that goes out more than a month late it’s good to introduce some of the repercussions that can come from not paying the invoice. This can be a late payment or fee, or if you’re still working with them on a project, you can temporarily pause services until payment is made.
Subject: Invoice [#] is now 30 days overdue - please send payment
Hi [Client Name],
This is my fourth reminder that your payment on invoice [#] is past due. Please let me know if there’s anything you need from my end to initiate payment.
I’ve attached the invoice here [insert link] where you can simply make a payment through multiple payment methods.
As mentioned in my previous email, that per my terms, a late fee may apply moving forward as the payment is more than 30 days late.
Please organize the payment for this invoice.
What to do if your client doesn’t pay?
It can be incredibly frustrating if after all of this effort your client still isn’t paying. Even though it can be really easy to get mad at your client, try and keep a cool head. If you maintain a good relationship you’re in a stronger power position moving forward than if you let your anger get the better of you. Late payments aren’t personal attacks, even though they can feel like it.
Pause Existing Work
If your client is over a month late in payment and you’re still working with them actively on projects, you can consider pausing current services until the invoice is paid. This mitigates the risk that you’ll go several months without payment and opens up a more serious conversation with your client. This isn’t a strategy that you can do for a one time project, but if they don’t pay on time, it’s a legitimate reason to not work with them again, or require 50% upfront.
Get on the Phone
If all of your emails have gone completely unanswered, hopping on a phone call with your client can eliminate possibilities that you’re contacting the wrong person or your point of contact might have left. I know it seems like a long shot, but it’s worth covering your basis to see if there was a misunderstanding or have an update on your payment. Remember to be friendly and empathetic as it will maintain your reputation and relationship.
A great way to avoid having to chase down your payment is to have clear-cut terms from the start. This is where having a legally-sound contract in place is key, and Indy can help. Check out how easy it is to create a client contract.