Getting paid as a photographer is one of the most vital parts of running a successful business! But we all know it’s not enough just to get paid, right?! Getting paid in full, on time and consistently are what really matters. And unfortunately, that’s easier said than done for many smal business owners.
To break it down, according to the Freelancers Union, “71% of freelancers struggle to collect payment for work at least once in the course of their career.” When you think about chasing after late payments, getting ghosted or—worst of all—fighting disputes about whether you even deserve to be paid, it’s easy to see why getting paid gets complicated, fast.
So what should you do to get paid on time? Let me help you with that!!
1: Get organized
The first thing you should do to get paid on time might surprise you. No, it’s not a secret!! But it is something that separates frazzled photographers from those rocking their cash flow.
When I started using HoneyBook, my payments were automatically organized in one place! This made it so easy for me to see when I was supposed to get paid, how much and by whom — it even clearly marks if someone is overdue! Which I LOVE!
By having a clearer view of my finances, I was able to understand better how my business was performing and make better business decisions. The payment status is automatically updated in the system for you, so that you don’t need to dig through your emails and texts to figure out if you’ve been paid yet. Which means it saves you a bunch of time!!
And since you can access HoneyBook from anywhere (including on the go with the HoneyBook app), you can stay on top of your payments and feel good about your finances whenever you need to!
Basically you need a high-quality tool to help you keep track of your finances and help save you some time!
Get 35% off your first year of HoneyBook to make sure your business is set up to get paid quickly.
2: Use a contract
We all enter business agreements with the best of intentions, but awkward situations can happen when deliverables and billing changes. Using a contract is critical in ensuring you and your client understand exactly what you’re delivering and what to expect.
Protect your business (and bank account) from the risk of not getting paid with a contract! Don’t risk the chance of never being paid. It’s so easy to have your contract set up in HoneyBook, and if you don’t have one yet, HoneyBook provides legally written contract templates for you when you join. These contracts can be sent through HoneyBook for electronic signature and should be signed by your client before any work begins.
Not only does having a contract help protect you if you need to seek legal help or escalate to small claims court, but it also sets expectations on the work you’re doing, the deliverables you’re providing, when you’re delivering them and for how much. Getting this alignment from your client at the beginning increases your chances of delivering work to a happy client who will pay you. That’s what we all want, right?
3: Ask for a deposit up-front
Collecting money upfront in the form of a non-refundable deposit before you start any work is the gold standard for how to get paid as a photographer. You need to be sure you are paid before the events happen and to reserve their date. How much of a deposit? It depends. A good rule of thumb is to require 33% of the package total for larger packages and 50% for smaller packages.
Now, if asking for money makes you feel squeamish, first, stop and remember the completely invaluable skill set you’re bringing to the table. And second, don’t ask!! Telling your clients your process makes you look professional and it sets the expectation that your work will begin once the invoice is paid. Keep it to the point and professional and your clients will take it more seriouslly!
The beauty with using a tool like HoneyBook is that you can customize the breakdown of your payments based on how you like to bill your clients.
- Set installments based on dates
- Set installments based on package milestones
- Set monthly retainers with recurring payments
No matter how you charge, it is important to be confident with your clients and collect a deposit upfront. By setting these expectations, your clients have buy-in on their project with you. And will work within the parameters you’ve set for your work with them.
4: Accept online payments
The best way to get paid is fast—for both you and your client. You, of course, want to get paid on time and your client wants the payment process to be as painless as possible. HoneyBook has a processor already integrated into its platform. So all you have to do is add your bank details in order to receive payment!
We talked about the importance of contracts and accepting deposits. HoneyBook makes it so easy for clients to both sign your contract and make their payment in one place! Here’s how it works (all within HoneyBook!):
- Send an online proposal to your client
- Client can sign your contract electronically
- Then submit payment via credit card or bank transfer
- Cha-ching! You get paid.
HoneyBook online invoice provides a seamless client experience and gets you paid—fast. Which is what everyone wants, right? HoneyBook has all the same invoicing and payment capabilities as software like QuickBooks, but because HoneyBook is more than an accounting software, it has even more perks.
You can manage all client communications in one place, automate repetitive tasks and get paid. All while keeping it personal and on-brand. (No separate invoicing tool needed!). A quick note on fees—All online payment processors take fees in order to cover the risk of processing a payment. The industry standard is right around 3%. So just keep that in mind!
5: Send reminders
One of the most awkward conversations I would have was when I’d need to remind my clients about payment. I HATED doing that! HoneyBook makes payments easier for my clients (and less awkward for me!)
Even the best clients may need a nudge to pay on time. Because I’ve set up my client’s payment schedule in advance, HoneyBook will automatically send a payment reminder when a payment is coming up.
This saves me time as I’m not chasing after payments and don’t have to worry about annoying clients with constant reminders (just blame your software if you get any funny comments!)
And they allow clients to pay from any device, wherever they are.
I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t that feel impersonal?! Well, you can customize the email template for payment reminders. HoneyBook pre-sets the logistics, but you can add your personal touch. Which is something I definitely take advantage of!
Want to take it a step further? You can also set payments to automatically charge on their due dates! No reminders needed!
Getting paid as a photographer is something that is extremely important but can also get a bit daunting. Don’t let yourself get intimidated by your clients and delay your payments. Let Honeybook help you out!