I Cant Get Paid to Save My Life

by AyeDub
38 replies
I've been in the "offline marketing" niche for about 6 years. I'm not a millionaire or a well-known warrior. But I have been able to make a living and support my family by working for myself during this time.

But I am about to give up.

Not because I can't get clients. I can. I do web design, SEO, social media, blogging, mobile, etc. There's plenty of people who need my services. But I can't get paid and I'm about to give up.

I spend as much time trying to get paid for a website as I do building the website. I have a guy who is 6 months late right now on a $2k website. "Just shut his site off" everyone says. But shutting his site off doesn't pay my mortgage.

Today was the day he promised, after 5 months (a month ago), that he'd have the payment in full. Now he hits ignore when I call and is blowing me off. It's also the day that I expected another check in the mail (that I was told was mailed 6 days ago). That didn't show up either. I think my frustration has reached its boiling point.

So what's my point with all of this?

Just to vent. Maybe seek advice. I'm so tired of people not paying me. I have the skills. Should I be doing something else? Maybe a website that serves the community somehow and has subscribers that I dont have to constantly be invoicing and chasing people?

I give up.
#life #paid #save
  • Profile picture of the author AdWordsUzmani
    Just don't work cheap and get 50% deposit. if you can't get the rest of the money it's ok. "Just shut down site" and now they have to pay your money to get their site.
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    • Profile picture of the author SI Randy
      Originally Posted by AdWordsUzmani View Post

      Just don't work cheap and get 50% deposit. if you can't get the rest of the money it's ok. "Just shut down site" and now they have to pay your money to get their site.
      this ^ if they can't pay half up front, then they obviously aren't a client you want to work with
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  • Profile picture of the author beasty513
    I would go with the 50% upfront with the rest after site is completed.


    Also, try offering your services to corporate

    entities that need to have a presence online.
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  • Profile picture of the author lotsofsnow
    Here is what you could do:

    1. get more clients then 1 that does not pay will not matter that much.

    2. Regarding this one client:

    There are 2 possibilities: 1. he never intended to pay you or 2. he has some kind of financial situation that he either did not realize at the time or under estimated.

    If option 1 is the case: bad luck, shut down the site and write it off.

    If option 2 is the case:

    Write him a nice letter and tell him that you understand that things might be a little tight for him right now but that you also have bills to pay.

    You tell him that you want his payment now or at the very least a partial payment and then an installment plan.

    Tell him that you expect his check by the end of the week and if that does not help you have to shut down the site and give an exact date and time.

    VERY important: you have to shut the site down at the given date.

    Send that letter by FedEx overnight. Will cost you 5 bucks or so but he will get it
    an he will see the importance.

    I am assuming that your customer is basically happy with your service an not something like "well, yes, but he kept asking me to change the colors ... and I never got around to doing it". So before you can demand the money you have to make sure that you actually delivered what was promised.

    And for the future: always ask for some payment upfront. Even if it is only $200.
    Then you weed out the ones that never intended to pay a dime.
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    • Profile picture of the author DPMJennifer
      I have had this happen as well and it is very frustrating. It really makes you learn a lot. Obviously you know now to get a deposit up front and make certain that you have a signed contract that states how much the deposit is and when the balance is due. I actually started doing a 60/40 split so I get 60% up front and I give the client the option to pay the other 40% over two months but I outline in the contract when those payments are due and if they are late the site will automatically be suspended. I know you don't want to piss client off by suspending an account but they must know that you are a business too and you need to be paid on time.

      As far as what you should do about this particular guy I agree with everything that hpgoodboy said. You need to let the guy know you mean business.
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      • Profile picture of the author Biz Max
        pfft... I don't do anything without AT LEAST 50% up front. I learned the
        hard way, believe that
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    • Profile picture of the author midasman09
      Banned
      Holy Camoly....use yer Noggin! (Ooops...sorry, you haven't been "thru the Gauntlet" yet)

      Here's a technique I've used that "Got My SLOOOW Payers, to Pay, when I was starting out.

      I, as everyone else starting out, wanted to "be Nice" to any prospect who said, "Let's DO IT!"

      WoW! Holy Camoly! Someone said "YES!" to my proposal! Well....when the same thing you're taling about happened to ME.....I thought, "Hey! WHAT will MOtivate this guy to pay?"

      One word, "Competitors"! So...what I did was contact 6 other biz owners in the same Niche and....(pay close attention here to understand the Psychology).....told them that I had completed a Website (or whatever) for Mr. Non-Payer and....I can do the SAME for them (Go ahead Take a look, here's the URL!)

      Then....when FOUR competitors contacted me and asked "How Much for the Same thingee for me?"

      The result being....I was able to sell THREE the Same Price as my Non-Payer using him as a "Testimonial" to what I can do.

      And....guess what? Not one of these prospects phoned my "Non-Payer" to see how he "liked my Service"! (That was the Fear my wife had. What if your new prospcts CALL the Non-Payer? Don't worry, it never happens!)

      So....even if any of your New Prospects calls your Non-Payer, WHAT do you think your Non-Payer will think?

      Yup....I had BETTER PAY THIS GUY!

      Hope this helped,

      Don Alm.....Loong Time sales guy
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      • Profile picture of the author webcosmo
        Originally Posted by midasman09 View Post

        Holy Camoly....use yer Noggin! (Ooops...sorry, you haven't been "thru the Gauntlet" yet)

        Here's a technique I've used that "Got My SLOOOW Payers, to Pay, when I was starting out.

        I, as everyone else starting out, wanted to "be Nice" to any prospect who said, "Let's DO IT!"

        WoW! Holy Camoly! Someone said "YES!" to my proposal! Well....when the same thing you're taling about happened to ME.....I thought, "Hey! WHAT will MOtivate this guy to pay?"

        One word, "Competitors"! So...what I did was contact 6 other biz owners in the same Niche and....(pay close attention here to understand the Psychology).....told them that I had completed a Website (or whatever) for Mr. Non-Payer and....I can do the SAME for them (Go ahead Take a look, here's the URL!)

        Then....when FOUR competitors contacted me and asked "How Much for the Same thingee for me?"

        The result being....I was able to sell THREE the Same Price as my Non-Payer using him as a "Testimonial" to what I can do.

        And....guess what? Not one of these prospects phoned my "Non-Payer" to see how he "liked my Service"! (That was the Fear my wife had. What if your new prospcts CALL the Non-Payer? Don't worry, it never happens!)

        So....even if any of your New Prospects calls your Non-Payer, WHAT do you think your Non-Payer will think?

        Yup....I had BETTER PAY THIS GUY!

        Hope this helped,

        Don Alm.....Loong Time sales guy
        That is an unusual strategy, and i see it can work. But you can`t do it in all situatuations, what if your client isn`t local ?
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  • Profile picture of the author Talltom1
    OK a big piece of advice here for future reference.

    Contact a lawyer for a short conversation.

    Noooo - you're not gonna sue anybody. But what you will want to do is to have the lawyer explain the legal concept of 'work for hire'. It's very similar to a contractor building your new house. You don't own that house or have any legal rights to enter that house theoretically, while its under construction, and final payment hasn't been made.

    Same thing works for websites. That guy doesn't own that website and can't use it until final payment has been received.

    I don't do a lot of webdev anymore like I used to, but here's the strategy I used. Always get a down payment. That keeps'm interested; they got skin in the game. The new website is developed on my server, and their domain is not pointing to it. In other words, he can view his website being developed at the url 174.127.127.234/~shawn for example. When I get final payment from Shawn, his website is completely moved over to his webhost and activated.

    At that time he gets a receipt from me stating that he now has all rights and title to the work that's been completed, subject to the terms and licenses of the software products incorporated into the project.

    Your problem now is that you gave up that right five months ago, and it sorta looks like you may be screwed.

    Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author mojo1
    If you do decide to provide web design services in the future, please
    find a way to accept payment by phone via check. I have a feeling that even if these people do pay you using a credit card, they'll just have their card company refund the payment long after you thought you were in the clear.
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    • Profile picture of the author XponentSYS
      Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

      If you do decide to provide web design services in the future, please
      find a way to accept payment by phone via check. I have a feeling that even if these people do pay you using a credit card, they'll just have their card company refund the payment long after you thought you were in the clear.
      Loooooooong after.

      I had one chargeback 5 months after the fact. Visa/MC have a6 month chargeback period and, believe it or not, AMEX has 9.
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  • Profile picture of the author dianegold
    I suggest the book "Winning through intimidation." The title is a bit off putting but it's basically examples of how you can safeguard yourself as a business person. The book is dated but the advice holds true. Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author James English
    This is why I stopped working with small/local businesses altogether. I rarely have problems getting paid anymore.

    When I was doing web design/SEO I had a few guys that kept delaying saying they didnt have the money or that they would try to get it to me "soon". The problem is, I had a contract with very specific terms. I never sued anyone, but I did send a certified letter 2 or 3 times. Like magic, I received payment within 24 hours of them signing for the letter.
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Lee
    Always setup an agreement between you and your client and always get a 50% retainer. I know there are guys out there that will do all the work upfront (and take on all that risk) but I guarantee what my designers do and what they do is not the same and that's what I tell people who ask about it.

    Plus, I can tell you that my policy is better than anyone who offers to do the design with no money down... How? Because I've never taken on a design project, and not been paid in full for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    Under $1000 - all up front.

    Over that - half up front or enough to cover
    what you don't mind doing for x dollars and your expenses.

    Or all or the majority up front and monthly via paypal or direct withdrawal
    for the remainder of services such as SEO or maintenance... (Thanks Claude.)

    Pricing is screening.
    Pricing and payment screens the desirable from the undesirable.
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    • Profile picture of the author abbot
      Banned
      Originally Posted by bizgrower View Post

      Under $1000 - all up front.

      Everyone is giving the same advice. And it's because it's true and it works...

      I can only speak from my experience here. But I don't lift a finger until every cent has been cleared. And I don't build $500 websites...In fact as I type this I'm arranging the checks this week to make a deposit. The totals are as follows...seriously....

      $2,600
      $1,250
      $1,675
      $1,300

      This is just new websites...I have 6 other checks totaling a little over $13,000 for other services rendered.

      This is only the weeks checks. The other 80% of clients use CC. Half the time we only use checks when the clients card has a limit lower than what we're charging.

      My point here is not to show off any numbers, or size up compared to you or anyone else...It's to prove that businesses WILL pay up front and they SHOULD.

      When you take your car to get it fixed do you pay half before and half after? lol no.... you pay right then and there and don't expect your keys back until you do...

      Or what about when you break down on the side of the road and have to be towed. Does mr. tow man accept a 50/50 payment?

      Or what if god for bid you get drunk and somehow leave your car on the side of the road. It gets impounded, do you think you're getting that back when they tell you it will cost $600 to get it out and you hand them $200 and tell them you'll pay the rest later? nope

      Think about it....how often do YOU get allowed payment plans, 50/50 splits in life? Very seldom nowadays. Yeah credit card companies maybe but that's only because you're making someone a billionaire from it.

      Your problem is you're working for free. You have no problem coming here and saying "that doesn't pay the mortgage", so why is it so hard to tell a client that?

      Don't get me wrong man, I'm not calling you a P*ssy but ive said it before. Business is a dog eat dog world. If you can't hack it then step aside so I can succeed. Otherwise get a backbone and start acting as a real business, not someones playtoy.

      Tough love sucks man. But that's what you're going to get from me. This can be fixed, so fix it. You have a page full of common advice. Listen to it, and take it.

      Best of luck
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  • Profile picture of the author Aamirasalim
    i really like to appreciate all of them you guys worked fantastic
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    • Profile picture of the author Davmac40
      Hi Ayebud,

      you have more internet experience than me but I was probably doing business before you were born and am considered an expert in getting people to pay their bills.

      Hopefully what I write below will help others as well as you.

      The sad fact is that you are probably as much to blame as anybody for giving clients the view they can keep throwing your invoice to the bottom of the pile simply because you approach it the wrong way.

      Failing to pay for your services is the ultimate lack of respect by your clients, so here's the way every business I've ever been involved in collects money successfully and this includes as an owner of private corporations and a director of public listed corporations..

      Step 1: You politely phone your client and ask: Is there something you don't like about the website we built?
      Usually they will say: No, it's fine" Because they approved it.

      Now ask:

      What is your next bill paying day (You may ask: When is your next check run) or something of this nature.

      Usually they will give you a date............ If they refuse to then cut them out and remove the site you did for them. No need to tell them, just do it.

      Step 2: If they give you a date ask: You've probably noticed that your account with us has exceeded the terms. Can you assure me that our payment will come on that date?

      They may say something like: I'll do my best but cash is tight and I can't be certain.

      Explain that our (your) accountant has ordered that the site be taken down and we list you as a bad debt. Now I don't want to do that and I'm sure you don't either! I can stretch this out until your stated payment date but if it goes beyond that we have to pass it to our accountant for action.

      Debt collection is that simple and I've moved into businesses with an average debt payment time of over 90 days for a 30 day account and within a few months have dragged this average figure down to 40 days.

      Before you start doing this I'm assuming you take 50% up front before you start a job, so be sure that your contract states this deposit is non-returnable. If it doesn't insert that clause now to protect you in the future.

      You don't want clients that don't pay because that's the express route to your bankruptcy.

      I do have a small portfolio of off-line businesses that I do similar services to and my contracts demand 50% payment as a deposit before work starts and the balance at the time of handover. Monthly fees I have them pay direct to my bank - paypal or they can use a credit card payment as we are card merchants.

      If an ongoing payment is 3 days late it is flagged and I will phone and follow roughly the above procedure..... It works.

      Cheers
      Davmac40
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  • Profile picture of the author akazo
    You have already received all the advice you need, but I will throw out one more tip. The only times (twice) I have gotten into this mess was with existing customers that I had a great relationship with. Because of the prior jobs and the relationship, I did the work off of a phone call. NEVER do any work without the 50% deposit, even for existing customers you trust. I have never had a client walk away from a deposit and I will never trust any existing customer... even if it were the Pope himself.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Qualifying your prospects is the most important thing you can do in selling.

    50% down is very reasonable and anyone who doesn't think so shouldn't become a customer.

    Remember, YOU are the salesperson, and therefore YOU have the final say on whether anyone gets to move from being a prospect to being a client.

    A strong up front contract on how things are going to progress and what the expectations for both of you are is critical.

    Do not proceed without the agreement and the down payment, and make sure you're happy doing the work for the 50% down payment if the client disappears on you.
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  • Profile picture of the author watsonovedades
    dont ever sale your service cheap and without getting up front money
    get some huge guys to intimidate him and pay the god damn money
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    • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
      Jason nailed it.

      I once sold a job to install lights and fixtures for a large company that handled apartment housing across several states. Over $120K contract, so it was a nice one.

      The customer was relying on money that they received through a government backed agency to pay for the job.

      We got right up to "go time" and they pulled the plug. The government funding had dried up.

      This stuff happens. Can't get mad about it.

      Fortunately, I asked for and received a nice deposit upfront and it covered my costs and then some.

      Being "understanding" with them about the situation, worked out well. I kept them as a customer for years and they always paid on time.

      It doesn't get better than that.
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  • Profile picture of the author coluden
    I gotta say I agree with AdWordsUzmani.
    You have to be realistic. Being nice does not get the bills paid either.
    It looks like you do good work. Getting a 50% up front is reasonable. Always leave a door that allows you some sort of leverage. If you don't want to do something like this, then you should consider diversifying a bit...perhaps something passive. You can pm me for more details on this, but man...you have to eat!

    best,
    coluden
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  • Profile picture of the author Leonid88
    hey,
    you need to take 50% upfront
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  • Back when I was pounding the pavement in my local area I learned the hard way, too.

    Here are some things I learned:

    1) No deposit. No work.

    2) I got paid at certain milestones, or work stopped. No refunds.

    Like this:

    Payment 1 = deposit. I worked to a certain point, so if I had to stop, I still made my money.

    Payment 2 -> I then worked to another point, at which, if I had to stop because of a missed payment #3, I still made my money.

    Etc.

    3) Get paid with a check. As soon as you get the check, go to client's bank and get the check certified and deposit it with your own bank with a teller. Getting the checks certified costs a few bucks, but this eliminates the possibility of the check bouncing or having them put a stop payment on the check. If you certify it, the funds are gone immediately. Nearly every business account has available overdraft, so I never had a problem with funds not being available to the client.

    4) Always build the sites on your own servers. Sites should never put on client servers until final payment is received and cleared.

    5) In the contract made it really clear that if the client delayed in getting requested info / media, etc. the work stopped. No refunds.

    Basically, I learned to make sure I could stop at any time, having always made my money.
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  • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
    Just charge up front. Really simple.

    Like everyone has said above, if they can't pay some amount at the start, then you are working with the wrong type of clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author SergioFelix
    All I could think about has been already suggested so I'll just add this:

    1. Focus on getting bigger clients.
    2. And if possible, convert them into long-term clients.

    As a reminder, no matter how much you love what you do or how easy or fast can you do it, NEVER move a finger without being paid upfront UNLESS...

    It's a big client AND a long-term client of yours.

    See why it is important to focus on these type of clients now?

    Cheers to getting awesome clients!
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  • Profile picture of the author davidtye
    Always take a deposit of up to 50%. If the customer doesn't pay the rest, delete the files so they are not able to use the work you have done (assuming you still have access to their hosting account).
    The guy that is 5 months late is taking the micky - if you have access then delete his files (take a backup) he'll soon be in contact an when he have paid you can upload his site again.
    You must never be afraid to delete someone's site/files, most will always come running back to you in a panic an those who don't aren't worth worrying about.
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  • Profile picture of the author bluecoyotemedia
    tell him if he does not pay you will kill him .. that should do it
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  • Profile picture of the author Tradie Market
    Have you thought about introducing progress payments and project milestones?

    Eg: 10% up front and then a further percentage for every agreed milestone that has been met. Work on the next milestone won't start until the previous payment has been received.

    This way you get paid and don't waste time and the client doesn't have to part with a lump of cash up front.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
      Originally Posted by Tradie Market View Post

      Have you thought about introducing progress payments and project milestones?

      Eg: 10% up front and then a further percentage for every agreed milestone that has been met. Work on the next milestone won't start until the previous payment has been received.

      This way you get paid and don't waste time and the client doesn't have to part with a lump of cash up front.
      Do you want your time and activities to be all about hounding customers for tiny payments?

      Either they can afford it or they can't work with you. Start using this as a qualifying tool instead of wasting time with flakes.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        Jason,

        Progress payments and milestones are typical especially for projects that are on the higher side money wise.

        Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

        Do you want your time and activities to be all about hounding customers for tiny payments?

        Either they can afford it or they can't work with you. Start using this as a qualifying tool instead of wasting time with flakes.
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        • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
          Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

          Jason,

          Progress payments and milestones are typical especially for projects that are on the higher side money wise.
          Sure if you're over say $50K. For power plants and million dollar plus projects I've worked on, we used letters of credit and progress payments. But for these little things, $2000 where the OP's headspace is at currently, they aren't helpful. Who wants to be chasing Chicken Littles for $300?
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          • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
            In his head 2k is his 50k I think but I get your point and I wouldn't consider a mile stone payment set up with anything less then a 10k project.

            Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

            Sure if you're over say $50K. For power plants and million dollar plus projects I've worked on, we used letters of credit and progress payments. But for these little things, $2000 where the OP's headspace is at currently, they aren't helpful. Who wants to be chasing Chicken Littles for $300?
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  • Profile picture of the author ParadigmShift
    Wow. I know how you feel. Its even worse, when someone says, Could you design my website for a share of the business. Err No. The proposed business might never see any income, or you could be waiting 10 years. Take at least 50% up front I say. Works for me.
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    • Profile picture of the author misterme
      Originally Posted by ParadigmShift View Post

      Wow. I know how you feel. Its even worse, when someone says, Could you design my website for a share of the business. Err No. The proposed business might never see any income, or you could be waiting 10 years. Take at least 50% up front I say. Works for me.
      reminds me of this movie line:

      "Congratulations. Tell the Warden he now owns 100% of 'Prisoners Of Love.'"
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      • Profile picture of the author Xebekn
        I feel your pain man. I hate that for you.

        You should definitely start taking 50% up front as others have mentioned. Also, start working with more reputable businesses and also start setting expectations. Don't be afraid to talk payment. "We'll bill you on this date for this amount." They know they have to pay. Avoid companies that don't look like they are professional.

        As for this specific situation, go to his business. Send him a collection letter. If both of those fail, get a collection agency involved. Did you get a contract signed by chance?
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