How to Make Sure You Get Paid as an Independent Web Developer

Independent Web Developer

Did you know, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the role of a web developer is expected to grow by 27% by 2024? This growth ratio is faster than the average of all occupations! 

Many web developers have taken the freelance route. To some extent, The COVID-19 pandemic has been the driving force behind this shift. After finishing a free code camp, many developers choose to work for themselves instead of an employer. 

6 months ago, I decided to quit my day job and embark on the freelance journey as a full-stack developer. It has been a hell of a ride so far. I got Charter Spectrum’s Internet connection by dialing Spectrum customer service phone number, made my portfolios, and started off with one client only. Now I have 3 permanent clients. But getting paid wasn’t easy. I am sure you can relate! 

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Introduction to a Web Developer

In case you don’t know what web developers do, here’s a bit of insight. We are responsible for building, customizing, and expanding websites. We use web development tools like programming languages and frameworks to get things done. The career of a developer can go in so many different directions. The role revolves around three areas, majorly:

UX Design

The need of the user is accessed to develop a digital product accordingly 

UI Development 

This involves the use of different languages and frameworks to design the layout of the website, enhance its appearance, and improve navigation.

App Development

This is a bit of a technical role that involves front-end and back-end coding.

Getting Paid As a Freelance Web Developer 

Going independent is a great decision. Don’t forget that with freedom comes grave responsibility. It’s imperative to go about it correctly. Sure, you could be making more dollars, but your payment cycle may not be as smooth as it was when working for an organization. 

Unfortunately, nearly half of the freelancers report facing payment problems. The last thing any independent web developer would want is getting scammed by a fake client who refuses to pay. With a smart and comprehensive plan, any freelancer can secure their payments. Here is a guide to protecting yourself and getting paid on time.

Screen Your Clients

There are four types of problematic clients an independent developer or freelancer must watch out for:

The Chaotic Client

It’s the type of person who is always late, canceling, or rescheduling. Encountering chaos once in a while is understandable. But if you are working for someone who is always in a forgetful state, they are good chances they won’t pay timely. Stay away from them!

The Clueless

These are the types of clients that are very keen on hiring someone, but they don’t what they want or need. When working for such a person, it’s best to establish clarity before starting. Make sure they are willing to pay your rate. If they aren’t, don’t get involved with them.

The Jerk

It’s easy to spot a jerk. They don’t treat you with respect. Trust your instincts when it’s telling you you you are communicating with a potential jerk. Avoid the headache.

The Cheapskate

Don’t let a client talk you into giving a lower quote. Such a client probably doesn’t know what the services cost. You should educate them. If you feel they don’t value your services, never work with them.

When a client falls in any of these categories, protect yourself by saying no!!

Set Clear Expectations 

When you have found a client you’d like to work with, communicate your payment expectations. Take the time to address the queries and concerns the client may have. Keep a record of this communication. Transparency beforehand helps avoid late payment and non-payment issues.

Use an Invoicing Software 

Some clients don’t require an invoice, but it’s a good practice always to send regardless. An invoice is a subtle way to remind that the payment is due. It must include every service detail and price along with the time window for the payment. To avoid the hassle, use invoicing software. This adds credibility to your service.

The invoice should be itemized properly. You wouldn’t want the client to check all emails and send you back the invoice because it is incomplete. Ideally, send the invoice when you update the client about the completion of the project and view the final product. These are some invoicing software you can use:

  • Freshbooks
  • Zoho Invoice
  • Quickbooks Online

Learn the Common International Payment Methods 

Web developers could be taking projects from countries all over the world. It’s best to navigate your way around the commonly used wire transfer methods accepted internationally. PayPal, Skrill, and Payoneer are three of the popular payment methods.

If you have a website, you may add a payment form to receive the payment efficiently. Prior to choosing a payment method, learn about fees, taxes, legality, ease of funds transfer, and any other thing mandatory. 

Before doing business, do ask your client about the preferred payment method. Sometimes, it could be different than the ones mentioned above. Chances are you, and the client may have to find a middle way to receive payments via a payment method that works for both.

Prepare a Contract and Have It Signed  

Found your ideal client and set the expectations? Before starting the project, there’s one more thing to do. Prepare a contract listing all the terms and conditions of the project. This document plays a critical role in ensuring you get paid. It also legally binds the client to pay the dues since it’s mutually signed. 

A good contract is the one that covers:

  • Terms of the project
  • Payment deadlines
  • The right to charge upfront (highly recommended) 

In the event of a violation, using this agreement, you can peruse legal action against the client.

Follow Up with a Letter for Unpaid Dues

Every freelance loathes late payments. When the buyer fails to acknowledge the bill and ignores the reminders, send them a demand for a payment letter.

It’s a formal document that conveys you might seek legal assistance for retrieving unpaid invoices. This document usually stops the client from ghosting the freelancer. If nothing changes, you may take legal action. If the client has signed an agreement, seeking legal help becomes easy (that’s why a contract is mandatory).

Plan to Compensate for Late Payments 

Sometimes, late payments are inevitable, and they can ruin you financially. To keep the delay from ruining your finances, have a solid marketing plan. Figure out where you are according to your monthly income and what you need to do between now and then for meeting your goal. This is done via marketing.

Confused? By marketing, I mean having a plan in place to keep on hustling. With more work, compensating for the payment gab becomes easier. To find more work, attend at least one networking event, send a newsletter to your contact, and keep in touch with former clients. The goal is to generate new leads.


After choosing independence, you deserve to enjoy every bit of the hustle. This calls for protecting yourself from scams and unpaid dues. With these tips, you will be in a much better position to take charge of your finances and even late payments on this freelance journey.

Read also – Students Are Curious To Know Is Web Development A Good Career? 


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