Invoicing international clients outside of a freelancing platform
Thread poster: Marlon Aviz

Marlon Aviz
Brazil
Local time: 15:20
English to Portuguese
Jan 17, 2017

I'm kinda new in the Translation Industry and I've been reading a lot of articles around the internet to help me, but I still have these doubts. If there is any experienced professional to help me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Outside of a freelancing platform we have PayPal, Skrill etc, but we don't have a payment guarantee, so how do I go about negotiating payment terms with my client to guarantee I get paid?

I've read articles suggesting 50% down payment, or 1 week of work worth upfront payment (in a hourly job for instance), but I fear that by asking I'd be losing clients because I don't have, yet, a reputation or work history for them to trust me enough to do upfront payments.

International invoices carry no penalties if the client decides not to pay. He/she can simply not pay and what could I do? If it was in my country it would be easier to legally deal with it, but what can I do with international clients?


 

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:20
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
There are no guarantees Jan 18, 2017

The best thing to do is check the Proz Blue Board to see the company's payment record. You have to become a member to do that, but it's well worth it. There are other sites that have similar loggings of payment records for translation clients, but this one has been the best in my limited experience.

 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 14:20
SITE FOUNDER
Yeah, it is an issue Jan 18, 2017

Marlon Aviz wrote:

I'm kinda new in the Translation Industry and I've been reading a lot of articles around the internet to help me, but I still have these doubts. If there is any experienced professional to help me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Outside of a freelancing platform we have PayPal, Skrill etc, but we don't have a payment guarantee, so how do I go about negotiating payment terms with my client to guarantee I get paid?

I've read articles suggesting 50% down payment, or 1 week of work worth upfront payment (in a hourly job for instance), but I fear that by asking I'd be losing clients because I don't have, yet, a reputation or work history for them to trust me enough to do upfront payments.

International invoices carry no penalties if the client decides not to pay. He/she can simply not pay and what could I do? If it was in my country it would be easier to legally deal with it, but what can I do with international clients?

This is a problem in the translation industry. Sadly, for some reason translators are usually not paid anything until after work is completed. (Though some clients, especially end clients (as opposed to translation companies), will agree to pay a portion up front, so you can try.) Basically, as you have determined, you are taking a risk in this industry, so risk management tools like the Blue Board are important.


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
A few points: Jan 18, 2017

1. Upfront payments (say 50% when you start) are appropriate for very large jobs. Good customers will agree to this.

2. Set a credit limit for every customer, say $1,000. Once they reach that level, politely explain that you can't accept any more work until they reduce or pay off the balance. Again, they will understand.

3.The ProZ Blue Board is a valuable resource. Susan is not quite right: you don't have to be a paying member to use it. You can see customers' ratings from 1 to 5, but not translators' comments.

4. You're right that international debts are harder to collect, but you can reduce the risk by setting lower credit limits.

5. Above all, don't worry too much. Most people in this business are honest. I've been in it for thirty years, and while I've encountered some very slow payers and made a few threats, I've written off only two debts totalling about $300. I took customers to court twice, and in both cases they paid before the hearing.


 


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