I’ve been chatting to some freelancers recently about requesting payment for freelance projects before commencing with the job. Not the full amount necessarily, but a decent enough percentage. I have to admit, this isn’t something I’ve practiced. Perhaps because my clients in the past have mainly been long-term, social media or blogging clients where asking for part-payment first wasn’t necessarily required. But now I’m working with more short-term clients and projects, it’s something to consider. We’ve all had to deal with clients who don’t pay or pay late, so this could be a great solution, plus it proves they’re serious about the project.

In fact Samantha Sparrow, who deals with many freelancers and contractors in her role, explained that not only do many companies understand freelancers asking for a part-payment up front, but they expect it.

So, I’d like to ask two small things of you today. First, to vote in the poll below to let me know if you ask for part-payment before commencing. Secondly, to let me know in the comments what your approach is. Any advice really would be welcome, as this is an area I’m really not experienced in.

I personally would love to know what the general consensus is, and I’m sure plenty of other newer freelancers would too!

So, vote here:

[poll id=”13″]

Then comment below…

5 comments on “Poll: Do you request part payment before starting a project?”

  1. It’s tough because you don’t want to seem too pushy to immediately ask for money, but great you’ve got others saying it’s ok and expected. I think it’s important to have confidence in your payment policies and clients will hopefully put that down to professionalism.

    Great question to ask though Emma, one many people will be interested in. I look forward to seeing more results as they come in!

  2. I never have in the past, like you my customers have been people I know or people I work with on a regular basis. However, I have one client who for several reasons (on their side) the project has slipped and has now been going on a significant amount of time, so I would definitly consider asking for some money up front as part of the contract in future!

  3. We ask for a 50% deposit on commencement of a website project and then 50% on completion before a website goes live. We have a clause in our terms that states if a website doesn’t go live within 2 weeks of us completing development then the balance is due.

    Not only does this ensure clients are committed to projects, but is also key to our cash flow.

    We are very up front and transparent about our whole development process at the start of a project and have not had any clients that have been unhappy with this approach (or even questioned it).

    Larger businesses expect to pay a deposit or retainer for projects and most of our smaller clients appreciate splitting the cost in to two chunks as it’s usually more manageable for them.

    In our view taking part payments works for everyone involved.

  4. Whenever possible, I ask that new translation clients submit a deposit of either $50 or 10% of the expected cost for me to begin the project. My explanation is generally that this ensures we have each others’ information correct and provides a concrete confirmation to go ahead with the work. It’s reassuring to me that a company can do this, since it shows they have some cashflow (which means they have no excuse not pay out in full upon completion). However, for larger agencies I don’t press; they are usually iron-solid in using only their terms for work. Stinks, but whatever.

  5. I’m with Jonny. I also do website development, and I take a deposit, not really for cash flow purposes (though obviously, it helps) but to make sure that a client has some kind of investment in what were doing together. Clients vary, but some, particularly smaller customers, can let things slip really easily, which can really mess up my scheduling. My terms and conditions, and my proposal, make it clear that the work I do is collaborative, will require input from the client, and if that input is delayed then things will slip. Taking a deposit is another way of ensuring that the client is involved and has commitment.

    Another thing I do on larger projects is have a payment schedule. This DOES help with cash flow and means that rather than get paid once at the end of 4, 5, or 6 month’s work, I get paid at milestone points along the way (such as conclusion of user-research, design sign-off, completion of development phases and go-live).

    It will, to some extent, depend on what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for, but I think it’s a really good idea, and no one has ever thought it unusual or odd or refused to pay.

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