Asking clients for money!


New Member
Hi all!

Since starting my freelance design business in January, I've found that one of the things I find most difficult is asking clients to pay an outstanding balance. I know that this is absolutely ridiculous (would you expect to go into Tesco and walk away with your shopping without paying for it????!!!) but still...I'm finding it hard to know what to say, and when to say it.

At the moment, for most jobs I am taking 50% deposit, which is fine. Then I have been sending the final files out when completed THEN asking for payment (with a hope that human decency would prevail). I haven't had a case of non-payment as yet, but I'm finding that the balance is being paid weeks after I have sent the files.

So, my question you request the balance before sending any final files, and if so, how do you word asking for payment?

Thank you!

Hi Cerries

What I tend to do is take a 50% up front like you BUT they don't get their final files until the balance is paid - my feeling is if you supply the final files before they pay, any unsrcupulous types can think "sod it, I have the files, not paying".
Also meant to add (Doh!):

I make it clear up front, a kind of T&C before I start work, I try and keep it in friendly non-jargony words. Usually I say something along the lines of "The way I work is to ask for a 50% deposit to start the project, you'll get proofs by email and once you are happy with the ***** (logo/flyer etc.), I will invoice you for the remaining balance. Once that is paid I will .supply you with all the file types you will need". Kinda thing. So there are no misunderstandings / no excuse not to pay the balance.
Thank you Spotty!

I do have T&Cs, which I send out to clients at the start of a project, and it states clearly that final files will not be sent before outstanding payment has cleared. I have one particular client at the moment that I'm designing 3 things for - 2 of them are nearly complete, and the 3rd item will be another week or so. They have asked for the files for the first 2 items so that they can go to print with them, so I'm not sure whether to ask for 2/3 of the outstanding balance (they paid 50% upfront) or whether I just ask for it all in one go at the end.

I know my clients know my T&C, but when it comes down to it I feel awkward emailing them to ask for the money before I release the files. I'm at the point now with this particular project where 2 of the items have now been signed off, but I'm not sure how to professionally word my 'ok the work is done now pay me!' email...if that makes sense!

C :)
I suppose it depends how well you know them / what teh relationship is like. I would say if they are long term clients I would (probably) release the files but in chatty terms make them clear this is isn't the norm but seeing as it is them and it's a multiple piece project kinda thing. But if you don't know them I don't think there is any harm in replying with an invoice for those pieces and simply say "Invoice attached, files will be released upon payment"
Thank you for your advice Spotty! I know what you mean about what the relationship is like...I think I'll ask for payment before releasing the files! ;)
I always give 14 days' credit after supplying the final files and have never had a problem, though on one or two occasions I've had to remind them on the 14th day that it is due and they've then paid it straight away.

That said, if I'm ordering print for them then I ensure I get 100% payment before placing the order.
I always get a final payment before sending out any final files. In your situation, in regards to the two/thirds of the work being completed, I'd probably send an email something like this;

"Hi there,

As stated in my T&C, I would need two/thirds of the outstanding before releasing the project files that you've signed off. If you'd like to do that so you can go to press early, I'd happily supply you the invoice. If not, I'll supply a final invoice when 100% of the project is complete.

Thanks for understanding,

Obviously, don't use my name ;)