Dear Danielle: Should I Get Payment Up Front?

Dear Danielle:

I have a billing question. Should I ask for payment up front or after the work is completed? –KH

You don’t mention whether this is for project work or retained services. Either way, I have some advice for ya. ;)

If you’re doing project work, it’s definitely a good idea to get some kind of up-front payment. Here’s how I do it in my business… if it’s under $500, I tend to require full payment upfront. If it’s anything over that, I require 50% upfront.

Remember, you aren’t a client’s bank and they need to have some skin in the game. They’ll take you and the work you are doing for them more seriously. Plus, getting at least some payment upfront will not only help mitigate your losses should you end up with a dead-beat client, but it will help avoid working with flakes in the first place.

When it comes to providing ongoing support work, clients are usually charged an upfront fee called a retainer. By it’s very nature, it is upfront because they are retaining your services in an ongoing relationship and guaranteeing your time and their place on your roster. There is no deposit or 50% when it comes to retainers. It’s in full, upfront.

Here are some older posts related to this topic that I think you’ll find useful as well:

Help! Client Not Paying!

How to Avoid Getting Stiffed on Payment

You want to also check out these categories on my blog here:

Billing
Getting Paid

Hope that helps!

4 Responses

  1. Susan Curry says:

    Excellent article and question! I just wanted to reiterate that I have experience in billing upfront for my services and it has never been questioned. Posed correctly as mentioned above – guarantee time and place in roster is perfectly explained. I also tell my clients that this helps in budgeting for them and prevents “billing surprises” in the end. I also make sure I let them know that anything over will be billed hourly the following month. I bill monthly – cuts down work on my end, and I take credit card payments which has also been a lifesaver and welcomed by the client!

  2. Keturah Hopkins says:

    Danielle! Thanks so much for this info. But first let me say that I love your very informative site! Again thank you for the payment infomation. I have visions of my sending the client my completed work and not getting paid. But you have answered that and I would like to also thank Susan Curry for her comment.
    I have not started yet, I’m still researching. Another question I have, is this, can money actually be made from this type of work? Thanks Danielle.

  3. Yes, it is absolutely possible to make a living in this business. I’ve been earning a full-time living from my business for 15 years now. The caveat is that there will be a learning curve because there are all kinds of things in business (and particularly our business) that you have to educate yourself and become clear, conscious and intentional about. Keep reading my blog…. I’ll keep you on track and will never steer ya wrong. :)

  4. Marthas SOS says:

    I am a uk virtual assistant and I can say that I love the points raised in this discussion.There are those who don’t accept a monthly billing system for payment for fear that they may not get paid at the end.I agree to getting payment up-front for every milestone of work. That will be a win-win situation.

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