Remind them of the agreed upon payment schedule.

Send a polite email or letter to your client, with the subject line being, “[Job title] invoice.” Include the original invoice you sent them at the end of their project. Remind your client that they agreed to pay you via [the agreed upon payment schedule], and that they are currently [how many days/weeks] past due on their payment. As per the terms of our agreement, there will be a late fee of [late fee amount]. The total outstanding amount owed is [total amount due], and I expect payment by [next scheduled payment date]. If you have not heard back from your client within 48 hours, send an additional follow up email or letter with the subject line being “Reminder: [Job title] invoice.”

Avoid negative or accusatory language.

Avoid negative or accusatory language. This is hard, because it’s difficult to avoid being negative when you feel like you’re being mistreated. The best thing you can do is to focus on the task at hand and maintain a professional approach. Don’t say: I know that my work has been completed, so I expect to receive payment immediately. Instead try: I have finished our project and would like to request payment for the following hours. Don’t say: You are late in paying me for your website design, which was delivered over a week ago. Instead try: I am writing to follow up on the invoice that I sent on May 1st regarding website design services provided during April 2020.

State the amount you are owed, including the total owed and any late fees that have accumulated.

State the amount you are owed, including the total owed and any late fees that have accumulated. Include the date of the original agreement. Include the date that payment was due. Include any late fees that have accumulated. Write this section as if your client is likely to dispute your claim, so include details such as: The payments you have already received up until now. Be sure to specify when they were made and how much each payment was for. Provide copies of canceled checks or other proof of payment if applicable. The payments that are still outstanding, along with their due dates (if available). Provide copies of invoices etc., if applicable

Ask them if they will be able to pay on their next scheduled payment date.

You can also consider sending a polite email to ask if they will be able to make their payment on the next scheduled due date. Be aware that it might take them a while to respond, and they may not be able to answer right away. It’s important that you remain patient and understanding throughout this process.

Include your contact information so they can easily get in touch with you.

Make it easy for your client to pay you by including all of your contact information, as well as your payment address or portal. Let them know if you have a preferred method of communicating with you.

Politely ask for payment to be made promptly and clearly state any late fees or extra charges added if it is past due.

If your payment is past due, do not be afraid to politely ask for it. Use respectful language, but get to the point. This can be tough if you’re an introvert and/or a people-pleaser by nature. But remember: this is business, and you are offering a service. You need to be paid for that service in order to keep operating! If there’s been any confusion about next steps or timeline, clarify those before moving forward with the following course of action:
  • Explain that you are asking for payment to be made promptly.
  • Clearly state any late fees or extra charges added if it is past due (and make sure these fees are clearly stated in your client contract).
  • Ask for a response from the client by including an open question at the end of your email (“Is there anything I can help explain? Please let me know if I can clarify anything further.”).
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