After working out a budget with a client, it’s important to set up a payment schedule. This helps to keep the project on target and makes both parties comfortable with the payments owed and the work being done.
A payment schedule should benefit both the client and the designer. The client should generally not pay the entire project fee up front, and the designer should not take on too much work without compensation. The most basic schedule is to require 50% of the project flat rate before beginning work on the job, and 50% after the work is complete (either before or after delivery of the product).
More complex schedules can either be based on dates, work completed, or both. For example, payments can be collected monthly for portions of the rate or for actual hours worked. Another option is to collect a percentage of the payment as each stage of the project is completed, such as 25% at the start, 25% after concepts are approved, 25% after the design is approved, and 25% when the project is complete. These two options can be combined to help keep both parties on target with their tasks and finish the project on deadline. For example, set milestones for specific dates for work to be done, and require payments at each of these milestones, provided that the tasks are completed.
Finally, put the project schedule in your contract. This will benefit both client and designer, as the payments will be in writing along with the work to be done and in some cases, the deadline for the project completion.