Q&A: Do you charge a deposit for new projects? How much?

Another topic from last week’s episode about getting paid was the deposit on a new project. The more your getting paid up front, the closer you are moving to a positive cash flow.

So how much do you charge up front? 25%, 50%, or maybe even the full cost of the project? Tell us about your approach on deposits.




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  1. The latest Freelance Jam Q&A: Do you charge a deposit for new projects? How much? http://t.co/EWZYzDV

  2. Carlos Perez

    With most of my clients I don’t charge anything up front, though some will offer if they know it will be a relatively long project. I often don’t push for it as it’s a motivation to get the job done in a decent amount of time. I have to add that this is with clients I’ve worked with before and trust. That or I’ve worked with them in some other capacity and know that we’re in good standing.

    I’m shortly starting a new web design/dev venture where we will specifically be asking for an amount up front (25%-35%) as the intent is to branch out to new clients, so we don’t know much about them. If it’s a brand new client – I say go for it. If it scares them away, you probably saved yourself tonnes of headaches and can focus on getting some real business.

  3. Brian

    As I said during the show- I almost always require a 50% deposit on new projects, both for new and repeat clients.

    For smaller, post-launch maintenance work (on sites where we already completed a project with the client), I’d simply bill after the fact with no deposit.

  4. I’ve usually charged anywhere from 20%-50% for a deposit on new projects depending on the size. Starting to move to a standard 50% rate.

    For ongoing maintenance and support work I’ve always just charged actual time and materials at my hourly rate with nothing due up-front, but re-thinking that approach as 10 minute updates here and there kind of disrupt flow. Considering a change to a one-hour minimum or something like that so clients hang on to little updates and send them in bulk instead of one at a time.

    • Though I rarely charge hourly these days, I generally round hours to the nearest .5 hour with a 1 hour minimum.

  5. I charge 25% deposit to get on my development schedule (1 to 2 month wait) then additional 25% on project start (usually not enforced for returning clients) then remaining balance on project completion.

    Since some projects can take 4 to 5 weeks it’s the only way to keep a steady income flow and make sure the client can wait till I’m available to start their work.

  6. Similar to Chris ^^, I charge a smaller than %50 fee…usually like %30. I haven’t had issues with this with any clients and it just makes things easier for me :/

    Also, I was wondering about contracts. You guys should do an episode or Q&A thing to ask people about their contracts if they use any. I’m not sure I want to get into that whole legal water myself, curious if others are same way or if they have them even though they don’t like them.

    • Brian

      Thanks for the topic suggestion, we’ll add it to the list :)

      I do recommend drawing up at least a basic contract for clients. It’s always best to set the terms—project scope, price, timing of deliverables, payment procedures—and get it in writing. That’s professional and if anyone has a problem signing it, they’re probably not a good client to take on.

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