Especially if you’re just starting out in your freelance career, understanding how to ask for payment in an email to a client can seem a little bit daunting. Dealing with the financial side of things may even seem totally unnatural to you, particularly if you’re used to being handed a monthly paycheck and going on your merry way, without ever having to ask to be paid for an invoice template.
Learning the proper freelancer email etiquette -- from responding promptly to using personal greetings -- will help you look more professional and build stronger, lasting client relationship (all great for your bottom line). But, there’s a special kind of etiquette that comes into play when asking for payment in an email.
Whether it’s your very first freelance invoice or you’re dealing with a late-paying client, it’s important to know how to ask for payment professionally and politely. Here are just some of the things to keep in mind when you send a payment request email to your client.
Knowing how to ask for payment in an email in a professional way -- in fact, knowing how to write professional emails in general -- is one of the most important skills you can learn as a consultant or freelancer. When asking for payment, you don’t want to come across as threatening or confrontational, but you still need to be firm and clear.
But don't worry, we've shared the 5 templates that have been successful for years to send gentle payment reminders to clients. Just keep reading on.
To politely ask your client for payment, be sure to keep your message warm and friendly. Think about the way you’ve been communicating with them so far. You don’t want that tone or relationship to change all of a sudden just because payment is involved.
Always keep the lines of communication open. Encourage your clients to get in touch if they have any questions or concerns, and always hint at the fact that you’d like to work together again in the future.
Cheques and faxes are things of the past. Sending a freelance invoice to your client by email shows your client that you’re professional… and not operating in the stone age. It also makes it much easier for them to pay you and (lucky for you) helps ensure you get paid quickly.
While you can always DIY your invoice and send it over as an attachment, there are much easier solutions out there. The best tax and accounting software allows you to create and send invoices via email in just a click of a button.
For example, using Bonsai, all you have to do is go your dashboard and first click on "Send an invoice".
Next, you'll need to select (or create) your client, project, and choose an invoice type.
Once "create invoice" is clicked, you'll end up on the invoice template page. Customize it to your needs, double-check everything looks right, and just click on "send now" to ask for payment in an email.
If you’re interested in trying such an easy solutions out for yourself, you can sign up for a free trial of Bonsai, no strings attached. You can also follow our complete guide on how to make an invoice.
In addition to using these invoicing tools, here are a few tips for understanding how to ask for payment in an email.
If you’re a busy, successful freelancer, chances are you make multiple payment requests every month (maybe even multiple per week!). For that reason, it might be helpful for you to have an email script on-hand that you can refer back to each time you want to send a payment request email to your client.
Your script should be personalized to each client and project but, in general, remember to include a subject line that clearly mentions the payment request and be sure to clearly state the amount due with payment details.
Here is a sample script that you can use when asking for payment in an email:
Subject: Payment for [details on project]
Hi [Client Name],
I’d like to say again how much I enjoyed working on [project] together. I truly enjoyed the process and it was a pleasure working with you.
I’m attaching an invoice for the project at the discussed fee of [invoice amount]. You can pay [information on payment options]. Please note that, as discussed, payment is due within [number] days upon receipt of the invoice.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Thanks again, and I look forward to potentially working together again.
Besides the above example, we're also sharing the 5 templates that you can rely on to get paid on time.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how friendly or understandable your email is: if your invoice isn’t clear, it’s not going to get paid. Figure out how to write an invoice for freelance work that’s clear, easy-to-understand and consistent.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure your invoice describes the work completed in a way that even a third-party could understand. After all, the person paying your freelance invoice may have had nothing to do with the project at all! Also, clearly outline your price and don’t forget to include any relevant taxes or fees.
This one should really go without saying, but it’s crucial to make sure you’re sending the invoice to the relevant person. You might be surprised, but this is still one of the biggest invoicing mistakes made by freelancers and consultants.
Be sure to ask who your invoice should be sent to when singing your freelance contract. Getting this information early on can help you avoid any delay in payment or miscommunication issues down the line. Best practice is to always use a solid contract template.
Alternatively, you can use Bonsai to manage all your payments. Worry less, get paid faster, and spend more time doing the work you love - sign up for a free trial.
No matter how polite and clear your payment request is, you will always bump into clients who don’t pay on time. While that can be incredibly frustrating, remember that your clients are busy. They may have every intention of paying you but may have misplaced your email or taken an unexpected holiday.
Most of all, it’s important to avoid being confrontational. After all, you’ll want to maintain your client relationship and avoiding burning bridges that could lead to more work, either with the client in question or via referrals.
Here are some of Bonsai’s top tips on how to ask for payment in an email for an overdue invoice.
As a freelancer, you’re likely always looking for hacks to get clients to pay you faster. After all, the faster you get paid, the faster you can move on to the next project and pay your own fees and bills. So, it’s important to take some steps even before not getting paid on time is an issue to make sure you’re paid on time.
Be really clear on your payment terms in your freelance contracts, especially when it comes to your timelines. Try to use a freelance contract template where possible. Include how often you plan to bill your client, how much will be due on each invoice (if it’s a fixed-price or long-term project), and how long the client has to pay the invoice after receiving it.
You might also want to consider building in a late payment fee or offering incentives for quick payments like discounts, free services or products, or even a special add-on to your project deliverables.
Don’t wait until your invoice is overdue to ask for payment. The best way to get your client to pay an invoice is to follow up a week or so in advance of the due date with a quick, friendly reminder. Your client will appreciate the notice, especially if you charge late fees.
Bonsai’s invoicing software allows you to build these reminders in automatically so you can focus on completing projects and spend less time in your inbox - sign up for your free trial to check them out.
Don’t wait to follow up again until a month after the invoice is late, when you’re panicking about your cash flow. If your client is late making a payment, follow up one week with a payment reminder email, then two weeks, then a month after the due date.
Be clear in your payment request email to the client about just how late the invoice is, and don’t forget to ask them to reach out to you if they have any questions or concerns. No matter how frustrated you are, it’s important to keep the lines of communications open and avoid being confrontational. After a month has passed, consider alternative methods of reaching your client, like calling them directly.
If nothing works. You could also think about getting an affidavit of non-payment. To learn more, read this article about affidavit of service.
By following these tips on how to ask for payment in an email, you’re on your way to ensuring you get paid quickly by your clients while maintaining a great, professional relationship with them. To make things even easier for yourself, consider automating your payments with Bonsai’s freelancing software. Sign up for a free trial today and see the benefits of freelancing on autopilot for yourself.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?