My answer is to prevent this situation from happening at all costs and when it does happen – make sure you don’t lose out too much.

As a small business owner I know this all too well. I’ve come across people who make you do all the work but end up not paying you for it. When I first started out I did the work, went above and beyond for clients who sometimes did not end up paying me for my time or my work.

I did that because the clients would say, “What if I pay, but you don’t deliver”, “What if I don’t like it?”. As a new designer, all I wanted was to impress, get the job done and get paid for it.

One time, I did artwork for someone who never paid because “they didn’t like it”, and then I went on to see it circulate the internet. You can imagine how furious I was.

There are things I know now that I wish I knew then, that I now implement in my business. I haven’t had to deal with a non paying client after that.

Here are ways I ensure my clients pay me on time:


For every job I do, I require a 50% deposit before I commence with the work. Even if the invoice is N$ 450 – It’s up to the client to pay it all or pay half and the other half after I deliver.

I’ve had clients who decided they didn’t want to continue with the work after I did some of it. And it was okay because they paid a 50% deposit that covered for my time spent on the project.


I don’t draw up contract for small jobs but for my social media clients and bigger projects/companies I make sure we sign a contract before I start.

I also make sure that everything is communicated on email – if we spoke about anything over the phone – it is followed up and re-mentioned in an email.

That way you have something to present should you ever find yourself in a compromising situation.

Detailed Terms

I usually give my clients up to 7 days to make final payment before I (and my assistant) start to bother them.

After I’ve completed a job and sent the files,  my assistant  sends them an invoice with the outstanding balance, to which they respond informing us when they will make final payment.

What I need to do though, is put this detail (7 days) on my invoice, so should you.

What happens when they don’t pay the outstanding amount?

I haven’t had this problem, thank goodness. I’m grateful for my clients. Lol.

What you can put in place to prevent this:

Option 1: Only give final work after they have settled the invoice.

Option 2: Add a clause to your contract that forbids them to use the work until invoice has been settled, if they do, you will take legal action.

Option 3: Do both Option 1 and 2

So the obvious thing to do if after all that they still don’t pay is to seek legal action.

The petty thing to do if that’s your vibe*winks – is to post the artwork/whatever it is you did for them on your socials with a caption like:

“I/we did this cool thing for xyz, our only problem is they haven’t paid us for it so we can’t fully enjoy it. “

And then ask your followers to comment “pay *yourname” 


Anyway, my answer to how to deal with clients who don’t pay is to hit them with “You only start with work, when a deposit has been made.” It has worked greatly for me.

And then DO THE WORK that you said you can and will do! 

That’s it from me today, till next Monday.

Betty Sibeso (@bettysibeso)


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