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Payment terms of an SEO freelancer

I feel that it is important to discuss payment terms as this directly impacts three things within your business…

1. Cashflow
2. Invoice chasing
3. The ability to pay your bills

You also need to be mindful of…



I see so many freelance businesses go under, not just in SEO, because of bad cashflow management. The truth is, if your client does not pay you on time, that is YOUR problem and is YOUR fault for not managing the situation better.

Does this sound a bit harsh?

The simple fact is…

Every single thing that happens in your freelance business is your responsibility. No matter how big or small the impact from those challenges are, you need to deal with them and put things in place to stop them happening again.

I know most SEOs don’t like chasing invoices, but it is just something you need to get used to.

To reduce the number of overdue invoices you get will highly depend on your payment terms and making sure that your client fully understands the impact of not paying your invoices on time.

So, what should your payment terms be?

They can be anything you want them to be. It is your business. But, in reality your payment terms will somewhat be dictated by the level and type of clients you work with.

For me, as an SEO Mindset Coach, I have a strict policy of receiving full payment up front or I don’t turn up. With the Professional Speaking side of my business, I usually do a 50/50 split. 50% up front and 50% within 7 days of the speaking gig.

When deciding on what your payment terms are, you need to…

1. Be realistic – Who are your clients? If you work with corporate clients, you will probably need to agree a 30 day upon completion payment term.
2. What is your procedure if your invoices are not paid on time – Have a clear process that your client are aware of. Make sure it is built into your contract (more about contracts later).

In reality, most payment terms are based on one of the below…

> Full payment up front.
> 50% up front and 50% upon completion (within 7 or 30 days).
> 7 days within invoice date.
> 30 days within completion.

Let’s say that you have a new client who ask you to do the full months work then invoice them at the end of the month then they will pay you within 30 days of invoice date.

This means you will need to wait two months before receiving that money into your bank. Make sure you have factored this delay into your cashflow.

What if your client does not pay on time?

Communication is key to a successful freelancer / client relationship. Simply send them an email saying something like…

“Hi Craig, I see that my invoice (INV103) is now overdue. Are there any issues at your end I need to be aware of?”

Keep respectful communication going. Personally, when working with clients I always try to get the contact details of the person who is responsible for paying my invoices, so I can communicate with that person directly.

If you are receiving one excuse after another, have a 30-day cut-off point. If your invoice is not paid within 30-days of due date, just send a polite email stating…

“Hi Craig, It appears that your accounts department still have not paid my invoice and it is now 30-days after the due date. I’m sorry but I will need to pause your project until payment has been received as I need to ensure I have money coming in to pay my bills.”

Just pause the project and dedicate that time to another paying client. When the client pays, you need to then communicate with the client…

“Hi Craig, I am pleased to say that your accounts team have now paid my well-overdue invoice, but before I commence work, I need you to put measures in place at your end to avoid this from happening again.”

When it comes to communication, saying something like…

“Hi Craig, Is there anything I can do at my end to help get my invoice paid?”

…is much better than saying…

“Hi Craig, If my invoice is not paid within the next seven days, I’m going to pass it onto a debt collector.”

SEO freelancing payment terms

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