Great summary Gregory. I haven’t had any payment issues for years, so I almost didn’t click this article because I thought it didn’t apply to me. But then when I read it so many of your points resonated with me and validated what I’m already doing.
I always collect a project deposit for every new client I work with. Great way to judge their seriousness. However I make exceptions for clients who I’ve worked with in the past and already trust. I also often don’t get a deposit when I’m subcontracting for an agency, but in that case they are much less likely to flake out.
I bill monthly for most projects with longer durations. For smaller projects I will bill at completion of project phases.
I also have 20 day payment terms, which is very common here in NZ. So long as I get my invoices out right at the end of the month, it’s expected that payment is received by the 20th of the following month. I rarely have issues with late payments, and when they are it’s just a few days late. On the rare occasion when a payment is forgotten is usually a genuine mistake and a gentle reminder sorts it out.
As you mentioned, the #1 thing is working with good trustworthy clients who respect your time and experience. If you get started off on the right foot, the rest is smooth.