Anyone running their own business is always going to be concerned that they’ll complete hours (sometimes days, even weeks) of work for clients, then not get paid; and the translation industry is no different.
Anyone running their own business is always going to be concerned that they’ll complete hours (sometimes days, even weeks) of work for clients, then not get paid, and the translation industry is no different. In fact, some translators prefer to work with agencies because they can use resources like Payment Practices to determine a client’s creditworthiness. Even though there’s no similar resource for direct clients, there are steps you can take to ensure that you’ll be paid by your direct clients – well, at least you’ll be able to minimize the risk of non-payment of your accounts.
Have a look at the steps listed below, and you may decide to apply some or even all of these steps, depending of course on how paranoid you are and also who the client is –
- When speaking with your client, make sure you get full contact information from them: this will include their full name, their mailing address, their physical address, their phone number, and their email address.
- Do a Google search on the client and see what, if any, information is available about this potential client on the Internet.
- Find out if the client is a member of any associations, like the Better Business Bureau: you can report your client to the Better Business Bureau if they fail to pay your account.
- Ask your client for references from other suppliers or freelancers the client has worked with; then follow through and ask about the client’s payment practices.
- Be very clear when stating your rates, payment terms, and methods of payment acceptable to you. Ask your client to issue a Purchase Order confirming this information, with a listing of the full name, telephone number, and email address of the person responsible for their Accounts Payable.
- If you have any doubts whatsoever about a client, or if this is a large translation project for a first-time client, it’s quite acceptable to ask for either partial or full payment in advance. Many translators request full payment for translations from people who are not established businesses.
- Make sure you’re capable of accepting a variety of payment methods. This might include PayPal, ACH transfers, wire transfers, checks in pounds, dollars or euros or a direct bank transfer. This ensures that the client has a few payment options. It’s appropriate that the client pay their own banking fees and you pay yours.
Of course, some people are more trusting than others, and not all these ideas are going to apply to all situations. It’s nice to think that all your clients will be decent, honest people; however, in our opinion, you should always ask for the contact details of the clients’ Accounts Payable person and get a Purchase Order number, complete with details of the translation and the terms as agreed to. And, as mentioned above, consider asking individual clients to pay for their translation project in advance, in full.