How to ask for payment professionally (+ templates)

Marija Kojic

Last updated on: June 28, 2022

So, after a lot of focus, dedication, and productive work, you’ve finished and delivered another project. 

You did your part of the deal and finished the project within the deadline, so now you expect the same kind of accuracy when it comes to your client’s part of the deal — paying for a job done. 

But what if your client forgets to pay? 

Even worse, what if you don’t hear from them once you deliver the project? 

At first, you’ll hold good faith that your payment will get processed soon. But, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to take action and get what you deserve. 

In situations like these, it’s essential that you take things into your own hands and ask for payment directly.

To help you with that, we’ll devote this blog post to: 

  • Showing you how to ask for payment without being rude,
  • Explaining why it’s important to have a backup plan, and
  • Providing you with some useful strategies, tips, and templates that will help you get paid on time. 

Let’s begin! 

How to ask for payment - cover

Why is talking about money such a taboo? 

According to Insider’s Master your Money Pulse Poll, most Americans aren’t comfortable discussing money

  • About 47% of people aged 18 to 34 regularly talk about money.
  • Also, 38% of 35-to-54-year-olds regularly discuss money. 
  • Only 25% of people aged 55 to 74 discuss money regularly. 

From my experience, a lot of working people also find talking about payment a taboo even though it’s a completely logical next step after a job is done. 

In support of my view, Kathy Caprino, a career and leadership coach, writer, speaker, and educator, believes that asking for money raises too many insecurities and doubts. In an article dealing with this topic, she explained:

“We’re scared to look money in the face, and to put ourselves out there, formally stating where we stand in a value equation. And we’re unsure of our worthiness.”

Based on experience with her clients, Caprino concluded that asking for money from clients or customers can affect our views of value, impact, and “appeal.” It also appears to be a huge turn-off — we often fear we will scare our clients off with our straightforwardness. 

Shame, doubt, and insecurity are at the root of this money challenge, concludes Caprino. 

How to overcome the fear of asking for payment?

Admitting she used to struggle with asking for payment, Caprino offers a way for overcoming our shame, doubt, and insecurities. 

When the time comes to ask for the money we earned past the due date, we often ask ourselves: 

  • Am I good enough? 
  • How valuable is my offer?  
  • Will there be enough people to pay for my services?  
  • Will these people come back after this project?  
  • Do these people find my work worthwhile? 
  • How do I fare against the competition?  
  • Did I provide people with great results?

And, while these questions are a good way to identify mistakes and become better at your job, you should be able to look beyond them. 

Believing that your work is worthwhile is the best you can do for yourself, Caprino suggests. 

You did your share of work, so you shouldn’t feel bad for asking what you’re entitled to. 

Being crystal clear about what you provide to your clients and customers will help you speak up and ask for money easier when the time comes. 

Finally, remaining professional and polite in your payment requests is always the best way to go. You shouldn’t throw a tantrum at the client about their overdue invoices — be direct, precise, and persistent instead.

Hopefully, you’re more aware of the psychology behind asking for money and will be able to remember it the next time you’re about to send out an email reminder to a client. 

This leads me to my next point — when is the best time to email your client? 

💡Clockify Pro Tip 

Tracking project expenses is the best way to avoid payment issues later down the road. Take a look at what tips we have for you to handle your budget well: 

When to send a payment request email to a client?

When thinking about how to ask for payment for services rendered, the first question you’ll likely have is – when to ask for payment?

The truth is that you shouldn’t wait too long. A good way to avoid late payments is to send a number of shorter emails before and after the payment due date:

  • Payment reminder email #1 — A week before the payment due date.
  • Payment reminder email #2 — The day of the payment due date.
  • Payment reminder email #3 — A week after the payment due date.
  • Payment reminder email #4 — Two weeks after the payment due date.
  • Payment reminder email #5 — One month after the payment due date.

If you send your invoice emails in such regular intervals, you’ll remain polite and patient, but also show your clients that you are professional about your invoices and matters of payment. 

Moreover, you’ll present yourself as someone who values their work, prompting the client to value it as well.

To help you remain as professional as possible, we’ve made 5 different payment request email templates you can use for free. 

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

If you’re a fan of templates, you might benefit from some of the free templates from our extensive template archive:

Payment request email templates

We know how uncomfortable it can be to ask for money from clients, especially if you’re never sure how polite or how rude you might sound in your email. 

Here’s how you can phrase each individual requesting payment email you send to your client. We have 5 different payment request email templates for you to download and use. 

✔️ Payment request email template #1 — A week before the payment due date

For the first email one week before the payment due date, you should keep your tone: 

  • Friendly,
  • Short, and
  • Informative.

Why write it like this? 

You don’t need to ask for payment directly in the first invoice email — you just need to make sure your client is well aware of your payment terms and basic information beforehand. 

By sending an invoice email before the payment date, you ensure the client has enough time to gather and organize payment documentation

Also, you’ll position yourself as a professional who regularly tracks invoices and sends reminder emails if the client doesn’t pay on time.

Take a look at an example of the payment request email you can send to your client: 

Payment reminder 1
An example of the payment request email template one week before the payment due date

Download Payment Request Email Template #1

✔️ Payment request email template #2 — The day of the payment due date

When the day of the payment comes and you still haven’t been paid, you have to act on it. It’s best to do that with another payment request email reminder. 

You should make sure to write this one while remaining: 

  • Friendly,
  • Concise, and 
  • Clear in your call to action.

Why write it like this? 

Since this is just another polite email reminder, you should maintain a completely friendly tone with your client —  the bill isn’t overdue yet. 

The most effective choice is to make this email clear and concise — with a direct call to make the payment in order to meet today’s payment deadline.

Here’s how you can write this payment request email reminder: 

Payment reminder 2
An example of the payment request email template on the day of the payment due date

Download Payment Request Email Template #2

✔️ Payment request email template #3 — A week after the payment due date

A whole week has passed and your client still hasn’t paid you. It’s time for another payment request email reminder. When writing this one, you should: 

  • Be more informative,
  • Use a firmer tone,
  • Emphasize the time the invoice is overdue, and
  • Include a copy of the invoice in the attachment.

Why write it like this?

This is your first email about the invoice being overdue — so, you’ll need to maintain a firmer tone and include a straightforward CTA. 

You should also make sure to repeat the basic invoice information, such as:

  • The invoice number, 
  • The date it was sent to the client, and 
  • The total amount due. 

You’re still giving your client the benefit of the doubt, so make sure you also include a copy of the invoice itself in the attachment — perhaps you’ll find the attachment was faulty, and the client did not receive the invoice.

This payment email reminder can sound something like this: 

Payment reminder 3
An example of the payment request email template a week after the payment due date

Download Payment Request Email Template #3

✔️ Payment request email template #4 — Two weeks after the payment due date

It’s now two weeks past the payment due date and you’re probably getting anxious. Remember that remaining professional and calm is necessary even at this point. 

So, how do you write this payment email reminder? Consider the following:

  • Be as direct as possible, 
  • Come up with a clear CTA, 
  • Ask the client to confirm they received the invoice email,
  • Emphasize the time the invoice is overdue, and 
  • Include a copy of the invoice in the attachment.

Why write it like this? 

As your second direct reminder email telling the client their payment is overdue, you’ll need to be even firmer and more direct. A clear call to action and asking the client to confirm they received the invoice email will lessen the chances that the client will ignore the email.

Although the benefit of the doubt is mostly gone by now, sending another attachment of the invoice will serve as another reminder to your client — regardless of their reason for not replying. 

This is what a good payment email reminder looks like:

Payment reminder 4
An example of the payment request email template two weeks after the payment due date

Download Payment Request Email Template #4

✔️ Payment request email template #5 — One month after the payment due date

Before you know it, it’s already one month after the payment due date. You should plan for another payment request email reminder and make sure to: 

  • Be direct and firm,
  • Use a tougher approach,
  • Remain professional and polite, and 
  • Avoid making things personal. 

Why write it like this? 

Considering that you’ve already sent a couple of invoice emails that have been completely ignored, you should take a firmer and tougher approach with this requesting payment letter. Of course, remaining as professional and polite as possible should still be your top priority. 

Avoid turning to threats and direct accusations —  you’ll risk seeming unprofessional and tarnishing your reputation. Moreover, you’ll be less likely to get paid.

A good way to send this final payment email reminder would be something like this:

Payment reminder 5
An example of the payment request email template one month after the payment due date

Download Payment Request Email Template #5

How not to ask for payment from clients

Not being paid on time is something that can truly throw you off your track. But, it remains essential that you don’t let emotions overwhelm you and keep sending professional and polite reminders to your clients. 

To help you avoid mistakes when sending our payment request email reminders, we’d like to show you a few bad examples. Here’s what you shouldn’t do when asking for payment from your clients.  

❌ Don’t send a vague payment request email reminder

You sent a payment request reminder to your client before the due date and wrote the following:

How to not ask example 1

What’s wrong with this email? 

  • The subject line is vague.  
  • There’s no precise invoice or payment information.
  • The sender didn’t include the actual due date. 
  • The approach and the language are too informal.
  • There’s too much irrelevant information for the client. 

❌ Don’t send an overly personal payment request email reminder 

Your client didn’t pay you even though you agreed on a deadline. You’ve decided to write them an email reminder sometime after the due date. You write something like this. 

How to not ask example 2

What’s wrong with this email? 

  • The subject line isn’t clear enough. 
  • It’s too long, indirect, and indecisive.  
  • It’s too informal and personal. 
  • It doesn’t identify the possible consequences of the late payment. 
  • There’s too much beating around the bush.
  • There’s no clear call to action. 

❌ Don’t send a threatening payment request email reminder 

It’s been a month since you finished that project and still no money? You’re so angry you can’t even think straight. You send out the following email: 

How to not ask example 3

What’s wrong with this email? 

  • It’s overly emotional and demanding.
  • It’s threatening and totally unprofessional. 
  • The threats are likely to prove ineffective or even counterproductive. 

So, we’ve seen what you should and shouldn’t do when asking for payment via email.

But, in some cases, asking for payment via email won’t be a viable option for you. 

Why?

Well, because it won’t get you a reply.

Since you still have to get paid, you can try to contact your client over the phone. You can choose between calling them or texting them — depending on the situation or your preferences. 

Asking for payment over the phone

Sometimes, despite all your best emailing efforts, you still won’t get paid, or receive any kind of response.

In cases when you don’t get a reply and start to lose patience, there are two things you can do: 

  1. Call the client directly.
  2. Send your client a text message. 

Here’s how you can finally set your records straight.

📞 Calling your client to ask for payment 

When talking to the client over the phone, you should make sure to: 

  • Introduce yourself and explain why you’re calling.
  • Be clear, concise, polite, and short.
  • Don’t use slang words and expressions.
  • Don’t make direct accusations about the client not paying you.
  • Maintain an impersonal and polite tone that gives your client the benefit of the doubt.
  • Summarize all details agreed upon before the conversation ends.

If in doubt about what to say to your client, you can open up in the following way: 

How to start a conversation with a client over the phone
How to start a conversation with a client over the phone

No matter how the conversation continues from there, you’re likely to get some answers to your questions. You may find that: 

  • The email address you’ve been sending invoice emails to is wrong and that all your carefully crafted emails ended up in an inbox abyss.
  • You’ve been sending your invoice emails to the wrong person altogether, especially if you’re doing business with a larger company.

Whatever the reason may be, you’ll be more likely to learn about it if you talk with your client over the phone.

You’ll also be able to polish out the details for finalizing that payment in a more brisk manner than you’d be able to via email — probably because you won’t have to wait long for the reply.

💬 Texting your client to ask for payment 

If you’re really out of luck, your client may not answer the phone. The reasons for this can be different:  

  • They’re trying to stay present and focused during an important meeting, so they’ve put their phone on silent.
  • Maybe they don’t have your phone number memorized and don’t like answering phone calls from unknown numbers.
  • Maybe talking over the phone makes them feel uncomfortable and they prefer to avoid it.

In any case, if you already have your client’s number, you should text them. This might turn out the fastest and easiest way to get in touch. 

You can send something like this: 

How to start a conversation with a client via text message
How to start a conversation with a client via text message

When you choose to send a text message, you’ll give your client more time to prepare and respond. Moreover, you’ll make a client who doesn’t like to talk over the phone feel more at ease.

Chances are, once the client understands who you are, you’ll receive a call from them or a message indicating when it would be a good time to call back.

Additional tips and strategies for getting paid on time

If you’ve already had an unpleasant experience with some of your clients or if you’re still unsure that a client you’re working with will pay you, taking steps in advance might be the smartest way to go. 

Making precautions seems like a better tactic than chasing after your clients after you’ve finished and delivered the project.

Here are a few additional tips and strategies to help you get paid on time.

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

Finding a common ground with your client or clients can sometimes be hard. To help you cross that bridge, we provide you with some useful tips in our article: 

Provide the client with precise records of your work

Getting paid on time can be a lot easier if you always have precise and transparent records of your work. This way, you can always prove that: 

  • You did the work that you claim you did. 
  • You did the work at the time you claim you did. 
  • You did the work for the person you claim you did. 

Your best option for achieving full transparency and accountability with your clients, as well as building a better, more trustworthy relationship with them, is to use a timer tracker such as Clockify

With it, both freelancers and independent consultants can:  

  • Track time on their client-related and project-related work.
  • Have the earnings for the work they tracked automatically calculated, based on the hourly rates set directly within the app.
  • Generate, save, and export reports they can then send to the client.
  • Have a detailed view of their billable hours
Thanks to Clockify’s detailed report feature, you can easily provide your client with concrete proof of your work
Thanks to Clockify’s detailed report feature, you can easily provide your client with concrete proof of your work

In addition to these features, Clockify also provides you with a free time clock app that will make clocking in and clocking out as effective as possible. Moreover, Clockify Server is a self-hosted time tracking software that will ensure maximum security and privacy in case you really need it. 

If you choose Clockify to keep track of your projects and tasks, you will most definitely minimize the chances of not being paid on time. You’ll also minimize the chances of not being paid at all. 

An example of a detailed report generated in Clockify
An example of a detailed report generated in Clockify

Download a Detailed Report Sample 

Draw a contract

Sometimes, it’s best to simply put your rights and obligations on paper. 

To do this successfully, a legally binding contract may be a good way to avoid not being paid in the end. You might not have considered it the most crucial element in your work, but it may help tip the scales in your favor.

When drawing a contract, you should make sure you include the following elements:

  • The parties involved in the contract.
  • The precise project delivery and payment terms.
  • A passage clarifying the matter of intellectual property upon project completion.
  • A passage stating your work is your intellectual property until full payment is made.
  • A passage about a penalty fee in case the original payment date is overdue.
  • A passage clarifying what should be done in case of a dispute.

Even if the contract still cannot guarantee the clients will pay you, it may still encourage them not to hesitate too long with their payments.

Finally, you can also consult a legal entity about what elements you should include in your contract to maintain professionality. This will also provide you with the necessary proof of everything you agreed upon with your client in case you have to turn to the law. 

Ask for an advance deposit

Asking for an advance is another great way for you to ensure getting paid once you finish the project. You can even include this in your contract and let your clients know this is the way you do your business. 

In essence, clients who are willing to pay part of the agreed amount in advance are the ones who are taking this entire collaboration seriously. They will be the most likely to pay you in full at the end of the project, too. 

Those who frown upon this section in your contract or downright refuse to sign it will probably bail on paying once you’ve completed the project. So, it’s best that you don’t even collaborate with them in the long run — it will save you both time and money. 

Yet, if you think that a hefty advance deposit would turn away first-time clients who may be wary of your work, you can provide them with an alternative. You can ask them to pay you smaller amounts of money when you reach certain project milestones.

Pick a reliable payment processor

To make the entire process of payment easier for both sides, it’s important that you find a suitable and reliable payment processor. It has to be: 

  • Efficient — So you can use it without complications, 
  • Simple — So your client can use it easily, and  
  • Secure — So both your and your client’s data is protected. 

For example, PayPal is an efficient, standard choice, but there are also other useful payment processors you can try out. 

However, you should make your pick based on factors relevant to you and your clients: 

  • Your client’s convenience, 
  • The region you live in, and 
  • Your own preferences.

💡 Clockify Pro Tip 

If you’re still struggling with finding a great payment processor, take a look at our blog posts for more information: 

Invoice efficiently

A professional-looking invoice will increase the chances of you getting paid. The great thing is that the market is packed full of invoicing tools you can use for this purpose.

Invoicing tools (or tools with invoicing features) help you organize and keep in order your due payments and invoices.

Moreover, most of these tools also send reminders to you when the invoice is overdue. This means that you won’t have to worry about missing a payment because you were disorganized or because you simply forgot to send an invoice.

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

If you’ve chosen to be a freelancer full-time, you might benefit from a few useful tips and start earning more than you already are: 

In summary: Asking for payment can be done politely and effectively

For many of us, asking for money isn’t a walk in the park. But we also know it’s something that has to be done. 

Of course, always being in the know and taking all the right steps is ideal — but that won’t be the case every single time. 

That’s why you have to be prepared for any scenario and know what to do next in case some of your previous efforts proved futile. 

But, be careful — being prepared for any scenario doesn’t mean you should immediately attack your client if they don’t pay you on time. 

It means that you know:

  • What steps to take if a client doesn’t pay when they should. 
  • How to talk to your client but remain direct, professional, and polite. 
  • What tools to use to remind your clients of the pending payment (email templates and text messages). 
  • How to achieve your goal without losing clients in the process. 

✉️ Do you struggle with asking for payment professionally? What tips and tricks have you tried that work to your advantage in situations like this one? If there’s something that we haven’t mentioned here but you think could help others be more successful in being paid on time, let us know at blogfeedback@clockify.me. We might include your answer in this or future posts.

Author: MarijaKojic

Marija Kojic is a productivity writer who's always researching about various productivity techniques and time management tips in order to find the best ones to write about. She can often be found testing and writing about apps meant to enhance the workflow of freelancers, remote workers, and regular employees. Appeared in G2 Crowd Learning Hub, The Good Men Project, and Pick the Brain, among other places.


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