I used to require 50% upfront with the balance due on delivery. Now I require full payment upfront on most projects.
There’s a reason for this. Sad, but true. Uninformed clients ruin it for everyone.
I’ll give you a recent example. I am dealing with a client who refuses to pay for a drip email campaign because it is not receiving a 100% response rate. I told him the industry benchmarks for B2B emails are a 30% open rate and 1-3% click thru rate. He was getting over 75% open rate and a 3% buy rate from a single sent email. (Responses rise when more emails are sent). So, by industry standards, the emails I wrote for him were doing very, very well.
His response: “I am the client. I say what I want the emails to do. I don’t care about industry standards.”
And he refused to pay his outstanding bill.
Happily, I have a website that is not delivered yet. It is being held hostage until he is paid in full. But usually the work is delivered in total and I have no leverage.
I am sure you are thinking, “But I can be trusted. I am not this kind of client.”
Sadly, there are no guarantees with the anonymity of the Internet. I have no mutual friend in common to hold the relationship accountable.
So I have had to change my policies to assure that I do not spend 40% of my time being a bill collector instead of a writer.
I thought about offering a discount for early payment, but that would simply mean inflating the estimate. I do not like to inflate my prices.
Being a bill collector is overhead that winds up being absorbed by all clients. So it makes more sense to collect the money in advance, while everyone is motivated to move forward. I can trim my prices accordingly, not worry about payment as much, and focus on the work…. which is where my attention belongs, anyway.