Getting tough with clients about paying up

I’ve been following a thread on my Women Designers Group mailing list where one of the designers shared some language from their contract, and a number of others commented that it sounded apologetic. Like ‘if I do this for you I will have to bill you for it.’

One of the respondees was dead on – saying that hey – this isn’t a hobby! This is a full-time (or more than full-time) professional job. There’s no need to apologize to someone you’ve worked for when it’s time to be paid.

I’ve struggled lately with billing for hourly work. Do I charge up front? Do I invoice on the back end? I’ve found that I have a few clients that I always invoice that pay extremely promptly – no worries there. I have a few others that I’ve invoiced once that took weeks and weeks to pay; that won’t happen again. I hate having to ask for money that’s owed me and sound like I’m apologizing for troubling them again, and again…

I wrote a letter that I’m going to send to all current clients detailing the new payment method for hourly work – either:

  1. purchase a block of time, 2-8 hours, up front at a discount,
  2. purchase time in 30 minute chunks with a credit card on my website, or
  3. give me credit card information to keep on file and I will charge upon their approval of the work I’ve done for them (or within 5 business days if they don’t respond to my request for review).

This might not go over well with everyone and that’s okay. I don’ t like rushing to complete a short project for a client then waiting 3-4 weeks for a check, that’s just not cool. But I will continue to invoice my very good clients who have always respected my time and expediency.


  1. Interesting, I have been toying with the same thing. I have many clients that I work hourly for providing valuable information only for them to take months to pay. Some clients have the idea of pay when payed. That is OK, but they should invoice when invoiced, not 30 days later.

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