Payment Request Email to Client | Freelance [FREE templates]

Sending that payment request email to a client produces more sweat than a TRX session at the gym. You know you’ve got to stand up for yourself, bite the bullet and to ask for a payment that’s been due for the last few months. 

You’re either filled with rage or insecurity. Or both.

 

They’ve got some nerve asking me to do all this work for free!

 

Of course, they didn’t pay me; I’m clearly not cut out to make it on my own. Time to head for the nearest recruitment agency and get signed up to a payroll

 

Best case scenario, the client has just forgotten and will be profusely apologetic once they get your email. They’ll immediately pay you and send a 10% bonus for the late payment.

 

Worst case, they’ve either run out of money or are sharks that force freelancers to become perpetual sceptics.

 

And you’re definitely not the only one. 58% of freelancers experience not getting paid for a job – a sad majority. 

 

So how do we handle this?

 

Just use one of these templates for the situation that best reflects what you’re dealing with right now.

Set up your invoice for success

Freelancer working at Laptop

First off, make it easy to get paid. We talk about this more in our definitive invoicing guide for freelancers. We go through the processes that ensure it’s as easy as possible for your clients to reimburse you for your services.

We also dive into the importance of explicitly stating the repercussions of NOT payment at the bottom of the invoice. Not nearly enough freelancers do this, but it’s a great tactic. 

Inevitably, every freelancer will, unfortunately, have to deal with a client that is reticent to send payment. Stating your 10% late fee once the payment is already late just isn’t as airtight as having it outlined in the invoice. If they receive the invoice and disagree with the late fee, it gives you both time to discuss before any bad blood is created in the relationship.

 

Don’t feel bad for including this footnote into your invoice – it is a way of stabilising your income so you can better rely on it and budget for the future. 

When to send the outstanding payment email request

  • Just before they arrive into work – 8:50 am is a great time, it means that you jump the queue in their inbox. Sending it just after their lunch break will achieve the same premise.
  • NOT Fridays – many people are winding down at work and gearing up for the weekend.
  • NOT weekends – it’ll either fall down the inbox or may be received negatively as people can often see weekend work emails as an infringement of their free time. I know many freelancers follow traditional work hours so you may want to schedule the email to go out at an automated time.

Email #1: The friendly reminder

At this stage, there’s a number of potential reasons why a client hasn’t paid – the payroll clerk may have gone on holidays, or your email ended up in spam. Instead of tying yourself in knots fretting over their credulity as clients, simply send this email to them and take it one step at a time. 

 

Your response – or lack thereof – will be very telling in whether these clients are going to be a headache to work with or are dream clients that are run by humans who occasionally make mistakes!


 

Dear [insert client name here],

 

I hope that you’re keeping well.

This is a friendly reminder that invoice [invoice no.] is now [no. of days] days overdue.  I await the payment of $X at the earliest opportunity, by [DD.MM.YYY] at the latest.

Overdue fees are charged at {X%], however, I will waiver this if the payment is received by the above date. 

 

Thank in advance,

Kate Flynn

 

The best-case scenario here is that they promptly respond and send you your payment. Otherwise, proceed to the next email:

Email #2: the no-responder

 

So you’ve given it a week and haven’t heard a peep from the client. The natural response is going to be irritation – but don’t let your initial reaction taint your professional image. In the long run, you’ll thank yourself for the composed response that you’re about to copy and paste! And besides, not all is lost, we’ve constructed this payment request email to your client to be firmly stating your expectations and giving your client a chance to release payment for the invoice.


Dear [insert client name here],

 

I sent an email on the [insert date here] and am wondering whether you’ve received it?

 

If not, it contained a reminder that I’m awaiting payment for invoice [invoice no.] for the [insert name of project].

 

This is a friendly reminder that invoice [invoice no.] is now [no. of days] days overdue.  I await the payment of $X at the earliest opportunity, by [DD.MM.YYY] at the latest.

The overdue fees are charged at {X%], however, I will waiver this if the payment is received by the above date. 

 

Thank in advance,

[Your Name]

Email #3: the foot is down

 

This is a curt response that plainly lays out the terms of the agreement. This should be sent a week after the previous email. The email still holds a professional tone but shows that you are a vigilant self-employed individual that isn’t going to let unpaid invoices turn into bad debts.


Dear [Client Name],

 

Invoice [Invoice Number] of $X still awaits payment. Another copy of this invoice is attached below.

 

Given that this invoice is [insert number of days] past its payment date, it has incurred a fee of [insert amount here] following the terms of our agreement. Therefore, the total amount due is $[insert amount here].

 

I would appreciate your cooperation in fulfiling the terms of our collaboration.

 

Regards,

[Your Name]

 

What to do if the client doesn’t respond to your late payment email requests

The first nifty trick is to add an email tracking extension to your mailing account. This isn’t foolproof as if you open the email on another of your devices it can often mark that as an email view. However, it can be a good indicator of whether they are on extended leave or are just ignoring your request to be remunerated for your work.

 

Next, our advice is to pick up the phone. Although a lot of people will grimace here, it is extremely effective. As awkward as it may feel to verbally ask for an invoice to be paid, it’s ten times harder for your client to give a resounding “no” to your payment request.

 

Think about it – how easy is it for them to avoid paying you? All they have to do is not respond to a couple of emails! But if a human being is asking them to be treated them fairly, their conscience kicks in and there are much more likely to hold their end of the bargain. 

 

The reason we don’t do this off the bat is that it can portray you as a cynical freelancer that has to hound their clients for payment. However, it’s only right to take this action after four consecutive payment request email to your client.

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