After a decade of agency and freelancer billing, I have calloused over. Hunting down unpaid invoices is the biggest waste of time ever and is absolutely exhausting.
Marketing bills are usually the last to be paid when funds get tight. To make matters worse, bad clients can easily string you along for more work, forcing you to confront them. The more free work you do, the bigger hole you can get yourself into. It feels personal, and it’s never easy to fire a client.
If any of this resonates with you, please take my agency billing system rules.
Remove all personal connections to billing and run these rules as if it’s the law. It will protect you, get you paid more often, and get you closer to clients you want to work with.
The Three Rules for Agency or Freelancer Billing
This may go against the grain – but these rules will scare off bad clients, turn bad prospects into good clients, and make sure you are always paid on time.
- Do not bill backward. Always forward. (Do you pay Netflix after a month of watching their service?)
- Use a system like Stripe, Square or Bonsai and utilize their subscription feature. Never hold onto your client’s billing details unless you need to. This is an unnecessary security risk for you.
- New clients do not start until their credit card is in the system on auto-pay and the first payment cleared. Net 30 billing is reserved for large corporate accounts. $10k+ a month retainers for trusted entities only. In this case, get a deposit before starting work
If a client worth less than $10k a month fights you on these items – do not work with them. Be firm and let them know how it works. Chances are, if they disagree, they won’t be paying your bills using another system on time anyhow.
How do I switch my current clients to subscriptions?
Sometimes adjusting billing systems can be scary. Not in this case.
Your clients don’t want to manually pay bills. This is a net positive for them (and you since they don’t think about their bill as often now).
All you need to do is send them an email when their next invoice is due, saying you’re updating your billing, and here is the link for them to get into the new system.
Boom! Good to go.