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My question relates to how I should share the fees paid by clients to me and a fellow programmer, both of whom are freelancers.

I've thought of a few options, but I'm in a dilemma as to which one would be the most motivating for both of us.

1) The first option I've thought is a fifty-fifty share. However, more brainwork is going to be done by my colleague, while initially at least, I will be handling the communication with customers.

2) The second option is a 60-40 share, where the colleague exerting more efforts gets a bigger share. This is the option I feel most inclined to adopt, but I'm not sure how it's going to feel in the long run.

3) The third option is calculating each one's contribution in terms of the number of hours spent, and sharing the revenue accordingly.

It will be wonderful to hear everybody's thoughts on this!

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You should be having this discussion with your fellow software developer. – Robert Harvey Dec 1 '10 at 6:11
@Robert: That's true. But I want to know from people's experiences which option gives us the maximum motivation to deliver brilliant results. While money is important, I'd like it to be a distant second on my list of priorities. Putting up excellent work is most important. – Enthusiast Dec 1 '10 at 6:16
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Money is one of those things that can leave people feeling bitter and drive them apart very quickly. Regardless of the actual percentages, make sure you and your fellow programmer have a clear understanding of the profit sharing scheme. After you had a chance to discuss profit sharing, put it in writing with each of you having a signed copy. Also, agree to revisit the approach after you had a chance to work together and get an understanding of your working dynamic. As long as both of you are satisfied with the profit sharing, you can put your thoughts to solving the problems you are hired to do and not be distracted by the financial side.

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Thanks for your answer! I believe there should be a clear understanding between myself and the colleague. – Enthusiast Dec 1 '10 at 9:27

As a programmer, it's easy to overvalue programming. Sure, without that there's no product to sell, but without the rest you're basically programming as a hobby.

I say base it on time spent, so long as you trust each other to track your times honestly. Otherwise 50/50.

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Sharing ? Seems like the wrong choice of word to me, you are not sharing. You are working together for a fixed fee.

To be honest I can't understand how you have got this far down the line without agreeing the split.

Why have you agreed to do some work without knowing how much money you will be receiving.

I find this question really weird.

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I haven't yet started working with the colleague. – Enthusiast Dec 2 '10 at 12:30

Assuming neither of you have another source of income and both of you have similar financial responsibilities (family, mortgage etc.), 50-50 is IMO the best option. Otherwise, in a few years, one will have significantely more of everything (car, house, toys etc.), which will most likely cause envy and distrust.

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