Sending an invoice is one of the most satisfying things you can do when you’re self-employed. But whether you’re a small business, a freelancer or a store owner, at some point you’ll have to deal with a customer who won’t pay on time. Here’s what you can do to get paid faster.
What can you do if a client doesn’t pay on time?
TIP: Before you start work on a project or start selling online, make sure customers have read and agree to your Terms and Conditions, including your payment terms. Like when and how they will pay you, and what happens if they pay late. This is information you can put on your freelance website and, if you’re based in the EU, something you can use Jimdo’s Legal Text Generator to create.
1. Send your invoice ASAP
It seems obvious. But when you’re self-employed it’s easy to get caught up with work and forget to send out your bills. Use a project management app like Trello or Asana, set a reminder in your phone, or write a note in your calendar to remind you when it’s time to bill clients.
This basic invoice template is all you need. We recommend putting the due date in the subject line so that it’s crystal clear.
New invoice email template
|Subject line: Your Invoice invoice number from your business name is Due On due date|
Please find attached your latest invoice for amount which is due on due date. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Make it your own:
- A casual subject line: Your Invoice is Ready! Payment Due by 4th July
- A friendly outro: It’s been a pleasure working with you and I hope we’ll have the chance to collaborate again soon.
- Info about your payment terms: As per my Terms and Conditions, payment terms at 14 days. A 10% late payment fee will apply to unpaid invoices after 14 days.
- Add your logo. This makes it easy for clients to identify your invoice at a glance and makes your invoices look professional.
Design a logo that makes your business stand out.
TIP: Send your invoice as soon as possible after you complete the work. The sooner you bill, the sooner you get paid. But this is also the ideal time to ask customers to leave a review. You’ve just delivered great work or an amazing product, so catch them on a high. Here’s how to ask for a review:
- If you’re a freelancer or service business: “My business thrives on my happy clients spreading the word. If you’ve enjoyed working together as much as I have, please leave a short review and include your favorite thing about working with me.”
- If you sell products in a store: “My business thrives on feedback and happy customers spreading the word. If you love your new as much as I do, please leave a review on our Google My Business page.”
2. Remind clients when an invoice is due soon
You’ve sent the invoice. The deadline has passed. And no payment has arrived. The truth is, some clients just forget. Sending this invoice reminder email can help you avoid late payments altogether with virtually no extra work.
In the email templates below you will read about a late fee. Rules around late fees can be very different depending on your area or industry. Please check which rules apply to your business before you send any of these templates or apply a late fee.
Invoice reminder email template
|Subject line: Reminder: Invoice invoice number from business name is Due Tomorrow|
This is a reminder to let you know that Invoice invoice number is due tomorrow. As per my Terms and Conditions, a late payment fee will apply if payment becomes overdue by set number of days after which a late fee applies days.
Please could you look into this from your side and confirm that payment has been arranged?
If you have already sent a payment, please ignore this reminder.
Make it your own
- A more forceful subject line: Payment Reminder: Pay Invoice Today to Avoid Late Payment Charges
- A more casual subject line: Reminder: Your Invoice is Due Tomorrow!
- Ask for a concrete update: Please can you provide a payment date for this?
3. Send a late payment reminder
The due date has come…And gone. No payment has arrived. Be polite but firm, and use this template to remind your customer that their invoice is now overdue.
Late payment reminder template
|Subject line: Late Payment Reminder: Invoice from is Now Overdue|
This is a reminder that Invoice invoice number is now overdue. As per my Terms and Conditions, a late payment fee will apply if payment becomes overdue by set number of days after which a late fee applies days.
Please arrange your payment as soon as possible.
If you have already arranged payment, please ignore this reminder.
Make it your own
- Format your payment demand as a question: Please could you look into this from your side? I’d appreciate it if you could update me on this today.
- Show them you’re not alone by CCing someone you trust, like a colleague or your virtual assistant: I’ve CC’d my assistant Brian who handles any payment issues and he’ll be happy to answer any questions today.
Add urgency by starting your subject line with IMPORTANT or ALERT to grab their attention.
4. Send a payment demand notice (+ charge a late fee)
Your client has received three emails and still hasn’t paid. If you charge late fees and their invoice has reached the threshold, it’s time to apply the charge.
What is a late fee?
A late fee is an extra charge that some businesses apply to invoices that go unpaid. You don’t have to charge a late fee, but it’s worth considering if you want to discourage late payments.
Do I have to charge late fees?
No. Whether you want to charge late payment fees is entirely up to you. The most important thing is to make sure that your clients and customers are made aware of and understand your late payment procedure BEFORE you enter a contract together (eg. before you start work or sell them a product). Late payment fees are supposed to encourage clients to pay on time. In an ideal world, you’ll never have to use them.
IMPORTANT: There are different rules about late payment fees, depending on your country and your industry. For example, in some countries, you’re obliged to send late payment fees as a separate invoice and not simply add them to the outstanding invoice. Always check the rules in your country and ask a legal expert if you’re unsure. Jimdo cannot and does not offer legal advice.
Payment demand email template with late charge notice
|Subject line: Late Payment Fee Notice: Invoice from is Overdue|
This is a reminder that Invoice invoice number due on due date is now overdue by number of days or weeks since due date. As per my Terms and Conditions, a late payment fee now applies.
Please arrange your payment today.
If you have already paid this invoice, please ignore this reminder.
Make it your own
- A more conversational outro: Please could you arrange payment and give me an update today?
- Remind them that you’re a person, not a corporation: As a small business, I rely on timely payments to keep serving my customers and creating the products you love.
- Show them you’re not alone: I’ve CC’d Brian who will be in touch with you shortly to get this resolved.
Try these 9 tips for managing clients who don’t pay
- Pick up the phone! A phone call is a lot harder to ignore than an email. Oftentimes, a polite call is all the push clients need to pay up.
- Send an official payment demand letter with your logo and business details on it. If the client still doesn’t pay or if the balance is for a large sum, you may want to contact a legal expert and have them send a letter on your behalf.
- Send reminders from an email alias. An alias is another email address with your official domain ending on it eg. email@example.com. Even if you’re a small business, this can give you extra clout. You don’t have to be big to look big.
- Set up reminder emails that send automatically. I use Freeagent to do this but there are lots of great invoicing and billing tools for freelancers that let you set auto reminders. Just copy these templates in there.
- Outsource your invoicing. Sending invoices and chasing late payments is simple stuff, so this is an easy task to delegate if you’re using a virtual assistant or have someone to help. Having someone else handle accounts on your behalf looks professional and lets you focus on doing what you love.
- Ditch repeat offenders. If you’ve tried everything in this post and have a client or customer who still constantly pays late, it might be time to turn down the work.
- Be friendly and polite—but never apologize. Chasing late payments can feel uncomfortable. But if you’ve set clear expectations from the start—for example, on your pricing page or in your freelance contract—that’s not on you. Business is business, and using these templates will make it easier for you to deal with late payers in a practical way without wasting too much of your emotional energy. Here’s some helpful advice on how to overcome self-doubt.
- Switch to a retainer model. Do you work with the same client every month? Pitch them a regular package of goods or services for a set price, then invoice them in advance every month. It’s a great way for them to secure your time in advance and makes it easier to plan your time.
- Ask for a deposit or use payment milestones. Most professional freelancers ask for a 50% deposit (or more) upfront. If you get pushback, explain that this is how clients secure their space in your schedule. You can invoice for the balance on completion to show good faith on your side too. For bigger, ongoing projects, consider using payment milestones: ie. invoicing at agreed intervals throughout the project. For example, 50% before work begins, 25% at the end of Phase 1, 25% on completion.
- Offer convenient payment options in your online store. Lots of businesses still accept payment by bank transfer, which relies on customers making the payment themselves. In a Jimdo online store, your customers can use flexible online payment options like PayPal and Stripe. So they can use a payment method that’s fast, convenient, and secure for you both. If you send invoices, consider invoicing software that lets your clients pay instantly via Stripe.
Start selling your products online with Jimdo.
Ignore this myth: “Late payments are just something you have to put up with.”
It is 100% false.
This is a common misconception amongst freelancers and small business owners. No matter how big or small your business is, you deserve to be paid a fair rate for your work and on time. You wouldn’t go to the grocery store and leave the checkout person with an I.O.U for your shopping. Your business or online store is no different. So put that idea in a leaky box and push it out to sea. Bon voyage!
By standing up to late payers, you aren’t just helping your own business, you’re helping to set better expectations for everyone in your industry. Standing by reasonable payment terms will help you set better standards for self-employed people across your profession.
These late payment templates are just a starting point for improving your business communications. We have a whole host of email templates to help you draft the perfect email from scratch.
Late payment FAQ
In general, it’s good practice to send a polite reminder between one week and one day before the invoice is due to avoid late payments. But each country has their own laws around this so always check the rules in your country and ask a legal expert if you’re unsure.
It depends on your personal preference and your payment terms. Many business owners will leave five to 14 days between reminder emails to give their customers time to pay. Even if you leave a longer gap between emails, keep communication open with a phone call and ask if there are any reasons behind the late payment.
Yes! Reminder emails are a great way to politely ask your clients to pay. If a client refuses to pay after several reminders, you might want to consider sending them a late payment demand letter by post.
Be polite but firm. Remind your customer when their invoice was due and how much they need to pay. Reiterate your payment terms and policy around late fees (if you charge them). Ask for a response, like a payment date or confirmation that they’ve arranged their payment and make it clear that you will follow up again.
Send a payment reminder just before the due date, followed by a late payment reminder, then a late payment demand letter. And you can always pick up the phone!
Send your invoices early. Send clients a reminder just before the due date. Let clients pay by credit card (eg. using Stripe), charge late fees, or switching to a retainer model so clients pay at the same time every month.
A late fee is an extra charge that some businesses apply to invoices that go unpaid. There are different rules about late fees in different countries.