How many of you require a deposit up front before you start working? Does it depend on the size of the job? How much of deposit? And if you put a termination fee in your contract, how much is it and what terms do you use? Thanks!

  • For me, it depends on the size of the job and the frequency of work with the client. If it's a one-off job and it's going to take several weeks/months from inception to finish I get 1/3 to 1/2 up front...or, specifically for long projects, installments throughout the cycle. I've learned the hard way...that is for certain. I once waived the initial payment on a large project because it was a rush job. Once the job was complete I was informed (despite the fact that my contract said 30 days to pay) that they are on a 90 day payment schedule. What did I learn? Never do business with these people ever again because they treat writers like indentured servants, and get a lawyer to write up a formal contract for me. Worth every penny.

    As for termination fee...here is mine (writer).
    "Either party my cancel this Agreement at any time with fifteen (15) days written notice to the other party. Upon cancellation, Client is responsible for payment for all expenses incurred and any work done toward the completion of the project based on the percentage of project completed. Should Client cancel the project following its completion, Client is responsible for full payment of amounts owed including expenses."

    I also have this clause in my contract to protect me from clients who drag their feet...
    "Writer will submit her final invoice for the Work upon receiving Client’s approval of the final draft. If Writer has not received comments or revisions within seven days after submitting the final draft to Client, Writer will submit her final invoice to Client for immediate payment."

  • Thanks, Traci! This is very helpful. Ahh, clients who want your work asap but want to take their time paying you...sigh.

    By the way, I do photography and graphic design.

  • I also have a clause that says copyright does not transfer to the client until payment is made, that is for work for hire jobs. Usually I have no problem with them using the work...that is until they don't pay me, then that clause kicks in. In your case, a client who doesn't pay would have to stop using and take down any photos or design work until you get paid. That will have them hustling to get a check cut.

  • This is helpful, thanks ladies!

  • I ask for a deposit on ALL jobs with new clients, no matter how small, before I start any work. I learned this the hard way. I was taking a referral job for a "quick business card" (not a lot of $$/not a lot of time), and I had a mockup done and sent to the client when she decided (before seeing anything I'd yet done) that she was going to let her printer design her cards for her.

    Agencies and freelancers (and printers and a lot of other businesses) ask for money up front. It's not unusual. If someone balks at a downpayment, it kind of tells me they're going to be difficult getting the balance when it's due.

  • Always: 50% at start of the job and 50% on delivery/completion.

    I also include a 15% contingency on some jobs (15% less if the job takes less time, 15% more if the job goes over time allotted) and get agreement up front on this. I use the contingency rate so they can build it into their budget. Easier than getting them to approve change requests.

  • For me, it depends on the size of the job and the frequency of work with the client. If it's a one-off job and it's going to take several weeks/months from inception to finish I get 1/3 to 1/2 up front...or, specifically for long projects, installments throughout the cycle. I've learned the hard way...that is for certain. I once waived the initial payment on a large project because it was a rush job. Once the job was complete I was informed (despite the fact that my contract said 30 days to pay) that they are on a 90 day payment schedule. What did I learn? Never do business with these people ever again because they treat writers like indentured servants, and get a lawyer to write up a formal contract for me. Worth every penny.

    As for termination fee...here is mine (writer).
    "Either party my cancel this Agreement at any time with fifteen (15) days written notice to the other party. Upon cancellation, Client is responsible for payment for all expenses incurred and any work done toward the completion of the project based on the percentage of project completed. Should Client cancel the project following its completion, Client is responsible for full payment of amounts owed including expenses."

    I also have this clause in my contract to protect me from clients who drag their feet...
    "Writer will submit her final invoice for the Work upon receiving Client’s approval of the final draft. If Writer has not received comments or revisions within seven days after submitting the final draft to Client, Writer will submit her final invoice to Client for immediate payment."

  • Thanks, Traci! This is very helpful. Ahh, clients who want your work asap but want to take their time paying you...sigh.

    By the way, I do photography and graphic design.

  • I also have a clause that says copyright does not transfer to the client until payment is made, that is for work for hire jobs. Usually I have no problem with them using the work...that is until they don't pay me, then that clause kicks in. In your case, a client who doesn't pay would have to stop using and take down any photos or design work until you get paid. That will have them hustling to get a check cut.

  • This is helpful, thanks ladies!

  • I ask for a deposit on ALL jobs with new clients, no matter how small, before I start any work. I learned this the hard way. I was taking a referral job for a "quick business card" (not a lot of $$/not a lot of time), and I had a mockup done and sent to the client when she decided (before seeing anything I'd yet done) that she was going to let her printer design her cards for her.

    Agencies and freelancers (and printers and a lot of other businesses) ask for money up front. It's not unusual. If someone balks at a downpayment, it kind of tells me they're going to be difficult getting the balance when it's due.

  • Always: 50% at start of the job and 50% on delivery/completion.

    I also include a 15% contingency on some jobs (15% less if the job takes less time, 15% more if the job goes over time allotted) and get agreement up front on this. I use the contingency rate so they can build it into their budget. Easier than getting them to approve change requests.