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...for project-based work.

So far I didn't, and always got paid when work was complete and didn't ran into any problems. Does this make me look unprofessional? :)

Should I ask like 25% - 50% advance before I start working?

The work I usually do also includes graphic design to some extent (user inteface for my app)

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closed as off topic by Justin Cave, ChrisF Apr 26 '12 at 16:03

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This is not a problem unique to software developers. –  ChrisF Apr 26 '12 at 15:53
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3 Answers 3

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As we have to think from the sides of both customer and us , I think it will not be good idea to ask for the payment immediately before you start working. But you can break the tasks into smaller milestones and ask for the payment as soon as each milestone is delivered.

For example: (break the milestones as per your convenience and nature of the project)

  • Requirement analysis delivered : 20% of payment
  • Data model delivered : 20% of payment
  • First user story delivered : 20% of payment
  • etc and so on ( I made up the tasks but feel free to negotiate the milestones).

Make sure the first deliverable is small so you will know the customer soon rather than waiting till the end.

This will put both customer and you in a comfortable position. And both parties will know if one of the party is not honoring the contract very soon.

My 2 cents.

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I think a good policy would be to always ask for half immediately for first-time clients. After the first time, I think you can safely assume he'll pay you at the end. The only risk that you could take that would make you look unprofessional is to ask for all of it up front.

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I'm on the opinion that from complete strangers (no recommendation from known people etc.) it is OK to ask advance payment if the project size/anticipated length warrants it. And no, it's not unprofessional, quite the contrary. Just be reasonable: for small&cheap projects you can take the risk if you feel comfortable.

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