Payment Terms

I recently spent a couple of hours revising my paperwork and the more administrative side of things relating to freelancing as the next 6 months looks like it may get a bit busy for me.

I hate dealing with contracts. I really hate dealing with them. I hate writing them, I hate issuing them and I hate getting clients to sign them. I know they’re necessary but to me, it feels like there’s no trust in an agreement and the relationship feels like it gets off on the wrong foot.

oh hai, I can build you a website, but I don’t trust you so sign this so I know I’ll get paid.

Doesn’t feel right.

Anyway, I digress. My payment terms needed some TLC. Currently, they’ve been 14 days from date of invoice which has worked nicely on small projects. I’ve tended to request 50% at midway through the project and the remainder on finish. This has always been open to negotiation though and if I know the client well, it’s often been 100% on completion. But as I said, this needed revising.

twitter to the rescue! A posted a tweet earlier asking how others mapped out their payment terms and after a flurry of replies, I managed to get a rough idea of how others do it.

So, in this entirely unscientific process of garnering responses, the outcome seemed to be an percentage up front, x after mid point and the balance on completion.

Some others also suggested a deposit and then an invoice every week or two as the project progresses. Andy Clarke mentioned that he bills 2 weeks in advance which is his deposit and then weekly afterwards so he is always 2 weeks ahead.

Makes perfect sense if you’re working on a time-based project as opposed to a fixed sum basis.

Speaking of which, the general consensus of people said they expected their monies within 7 days of invoice. I agree with this and John O’Nolan made a very good post about this very topic.

So for me, I think I’ll be revising my terms to this: –

25% upfront, 50% on design sign off, 25% on completion. All payments due within 7 days of invoice.

Invoice increases by 5% after every month of delayed payment upto a maximum of 15% increase.

How do you do it?


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