What to do if someone doesn’t pay you

It’s a problem all self-employed people have, not just bloggers. When you did the work and haven’t received payment for it. Here what to do if someone doesn’t pay you.

This is a little topical for me as I did have someone who wasn’t paying up but has now paid up. Case closed. Yet the issue I was faced with, has highlighted to me the problem that does occur when you have done the work and yet hasn’t received payment for it.

We all want to get paid in life, sadly nothing is free. Wish it was and If that was the case I would be at a spa day and night. Some will say, money makes the world goes round. So it only right that you deserve to get paid for work you have done.

I’m not going to lie; this was a steep learning curve for me when I went self-employed. Before that, I worked in an employment where money was in my account without any issue. I assumed that would continually be the case when I broke away from that safety net. I thought that I would still have money automatically and have no issue whatsoever.

Oh no, I was a fool. A naive fool for thinking that. To cut a long story short, I had a few early clients that refused to pay me. They would cut me loose, wouldn’t answer their phone or emails – even after I have done the work. I of course, being all new to the world of self-employment didn’t know what to do; so I wrote it off and kind of demised it.

Through talking to some of my husband colleagues, I was in the wrong and I should have kept on – till I got my money. It was from this steep learning curve I learnt a few things and how it was possible to get your money, even when that person is ignoring you.

Learning that you shouldn’t walk away and demised it, in a way made me feel a lot better. As I said before, money makes the world go round. I got bills to pay, foods to buy and walking away will just make your bank account look pretty poor. Learning that they are actions you can take is an important step when being your own boss.

Here what to do if someone doesn’t pay you.

First steps: Emails and phone calls:

If you have sent off an invoice and is waiting for a reply, or for that invoice to be at least acknowledge. Wait a few days or a week, before emailing again to ask if they have seen it. I have found, some clients will reply saying it been sent to their financial account and will be paid on a certain date. That’s all good.

However, if you have sent off your invoice and have nothing in your PayPal or bank account. And it has been about a month now. Start sending out follow-up emails and this time be more forceful. Polite but forceful. It might just be the case where the person went on holiday and hasn’t had the chance.

Still nothing. Don’t be afraid to keep following it up through emails. Be polite, but also forceful. Also don’t be afraid to keep emailing till you get an answer. If it were longer than a month, start researching and see if you can find a phone number. Ring up and explain your situation. If they put the phone down at you. The next steps might help you. But this is another case where you shouldn’t be afraid to keep at it.

The solicitor letter:

A handy tip to do if the first steps have failed. It been longer than two months now and still nothing. No response. Nothing. By this point, the clients have hoped you would give up and forget about it. Don’t.

Ring up your local solicitor office, explain your situation and book in meeting for a debt recovery letter. What this means is, the solicitor will get on the case for you.  They will send a rather stern letter to your client demanding payment. If they continue ignoring after a certain day, I believe it can go to court.

I admittedly never had this happen or let it go that far. But what I gather, this step can scare some clients into paying.

Now I must say when doing this step, there a small solicitor fees. The solicitor won’t be doing this for free – so do bear that in mind. The fees range from £20 – £70, it all depends on how big the issue is. You also have to make judgment calls that the fees will be a cut from how much you are owned. So if you owned £200, with the solicitor fees of £20 – you might only get £180 in the end. So do think about that.


An optional step and something that Richard and I are looking into. The idea behind this is, Xero sends out the invoice for you automatically and will also chase it up also automatically. Yup, no manual labour. Well, not much anyway. From what I gather, you can do this on a phone app where you type in a few details and Xero does the rest. Sound cool doesn’t it.

If someone doesn’t pay you, they will send out the warning emails to that person till you get paid. Also what I also think is cool and a brilliant idea, you can see if that person has seen your invoice or emails. So no more wondering if they are ignoring you.

Xero I think is a brilliant idea and one that all self-employed people should look into. But before you get too excited. There is a price. Not too steep as the starter price is £10 a month.

But worthwhile to look into if you are starting out.

Small Claim Court:

Never been down this route, but this is what I called ‘the serious step’, to get paid. No clients like to be in court. Or at least I think that is the case.

I don’t really have much to say about this as I’m not a legal expert and don’t want to write something this isn’t correct. But I will give you one example:

A neighbour of mine is a prop designer and recently took someone to a small claim court. I think she was owed £7,000. So not money you want to write off. From what he told me, the client pulled out a cheque and paid him right there and then.

It is usually the last attempt and one that does need to be carefully thought about.


That is what to do if someone doesn’t pay you. I’m not a legal money expert – so if anyone knows more about this; or can write further than go ahead in the comments.

what to do if someone doesn’t pay you

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  • Rachael stray
    November 12, 2017

    Some really useful advice here. I know a few people who are self employed so I will tell them to check this out.

  • roamy
    November 12, 2017

    thanks for sharing Anna, I`m lucky I have never had such issues offline or online. There are just nasty people out there, trying to take advantage of others thinking there is nothing you can do about it.

  • Rawlings
    November 12, 2017

    exceptional useful tips with tough decisions to make. Thanks for this lovely ideas

  • Ivianat
    November 13, 2017

    Not sure if this will work out in the country where I reside but this seems like a good article. Thanks for sharing!

  • Dara
    November 13, 2017

    Glad to hear you finally got paid! That sucks! I would never hire someone for something and then neglect to pay. People are sucky.

  • Sarah
    November 14, 2017

    This is excellent information- luckily I have not had this issue arise as of yet. I will be checkin out Xero for future use!

  • Heather Keet
    November 14, 2017

    Great advice! #AnythingGoes

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