[thelist] When Do You Bill--Before or After Publication?

Christopher Orth - HQ corth at casey.org
Sat Jul 22 12:30:49 CDT 2000

I have found that breaking up a project into three billable cycles rather
than 2 or 1 is a good solution.  The amount laid out is considerably less,
and the client usually likes that.  For example, rather than paying you $500
twice, they are writing checks for $330 each time.  Also, they are seeing
results more frequently, and you are seeing income more frequently.

I usually use something like this:

- Up to 5 hours up front for requirements gathering and negotiations.  If
the client or I decide to turn down the job, those hours are free (which
rarely happens).  Otherwise, they are billed for later.

Once the "deal" has been agreed upon, bill for one third up front before
beginning work.  This covers your initial 5 hour investment and ensures that
you will be getting paid, and that the client is serious.  If that client
isn't willing to put down a deposit, don't negotiate and simply drop them.
All big corporations lay down deposits and your client should too.  If they
are really hard to work with in the beginning, they will be especially hard
to work with later when money really matters.

- Deliver mockups, architecture and/or whatever else was agreed upon for the
initial phase.  Also deliver the plan for the next phase, including expected
deliverables.  The more detail you give the client on these reports the more
comfortable they will feel about where there money is going.

Get another deposit before beginning the second phase of work.

- After reviews and any other client interactions, you should now be about
2/3's paid for the gig, and at least 2/3'rds done with it!  At this point
you can choose whether to bill up front for the remaining phase.  If the
client is a good one, I will usually bill them at the end of the project for
the last third, with the understanding that nothing goes live until payment
has been received.  Trust me on that one, do not put out a public product
before you have received final payment.  Larger organizations can get away
with this, mostly because the business need is faster than the billing
department, but on smaller projects it is easy for the client to forget all
about you as soon as the product is live and available! 

But if you do nothing else, make sure you and the client agree upon a
billing and payment cycle before you ever start work.  No on likes surprised
when it comes to their money.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Palyne Gaenir [mailto:palyne at sciencehorizon.com]
> Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 8:26 AM
> To: thelist at lists.evolt.org
> Subject: Re: [thelist] When Do You Bill--Before or After Publication?
> Sometimes it depends on the client Aileen.  If I'm in doubt about 
> their prompt payment, I require up-front payment before I start and 
> final payment before the site is "live."  (It'll be ready, it just 
> won't be 'live' linked from the domain home.)  Otherwise, I bill 
> whenever I (a) have a decent amount for an invoice, (b) happen to 
> need money, or (c) it's the beginning of the month and all basic 
> server invoices go out.  It seldom hurts to require final payment 
> before the site goes live.  Even with good clients you tend to get 
> paid faster that way. :-)   FWIW. Palyne
> On 21 Jul 2000, at 17:02, Aileen Wrothwell wrote:
> I'm wondering when you all bill for a site?
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