I've heard of this happening: people happy with the early milestones and skip the rest. I now front-load the milestones on fixed price contracts. I had a disappearing client too but I got paid enough to be satisfied.
You should always make sure that all milestones are fully funded before you start working, although I know that this doesn't help you with your current problem. Exactly how long has the client been silent? Does he have any past feedback from other freelancers that he's worked with here?
Jaime H wrote:
Question for you guys...
I have a new client I’m working with. The job was small ($400) and the first milestone was set at $250. The client has been very responsive — usually within an hour or so. I submitted an initial draft once the milestone was funded. He suggested adding his email address to the doc, which I did. Then, he went silent.
Since the escrow was funded, I know I’ll get the initial $250 in about three or four days. However, I wouldn’t have taken the job for $250 — the second milestone was for the remaining $150 after the final draft is approved (based on two rounds of edits, if needed).
I understand how the Upwork protections work, but it seems crazy to me that a client could fund a milestone then disappear — my gut tells me he’s trying to pay less for the project and will just use what was supplied in round one (which, I thought, was very polished and ready for prime time...).
If you work with milestones, it is very important to only deliver the work that is covered in the particular milestone, so the worst thing that can happen is that the client disappears, and you don't finish the work, so you just move on to something else. A client can disappear at any time - he might have a family emergency, he might not need the work any longer, who knows.
If you agree to different milestones, just make sure that they are very well defined, and then only provide the work as agreed before.
Jaime, how long has the client been unresponsive? It's frustrating, but I always allow for the possibility that something happened to preclude typical responsiveness - personal emergency, other bits of business taking precedence, etc. The last time that happened to me it turned out that my previously very responsive client had a death in her family and providing feedback to her freelancer understandably fell to the very bottom of her priority list. A few weeks later she popped back up, apologetic and ready to move forward. That said, I've also had a client drop off the face of the earth never to be heard from again, so I guess what I'm saying is that your project could come back to life or it could be relegated to the dustbin. Time will tell.
Jaime H wrote:
Thanks! Totally understand — and I only delivered what was in the first milestone. It’s just frustrating that, because I got it right the first time, the client doesn’t have to pay the rest. I’m not a fan of milestones except for big, long term projects — usually I set the terms and just have payment due on final approval.
Yes, it's pretty tricky. I still set up milestones like this too - the first milestone is delivery of the first draft, the second milestone is for when revisions have been done and the project is complete. But if I get it right the first time, there's no second milestone needed. So now I weight them 75%/25%. Still not perfect, but IMO, infinitely preferable to using that awful time tracker that I hate with a burning passion! But now that they've changed the rules to allow freelancers to make changes and set up milestones, I think that fixed price projects will be much easier to manage.
I agree with all of the above. I would wait. Once I had a client that was MIA for a whole month and I was scared because I didn't have material to complete the job and I knew that was gonna affect my JSS badly. But then he came back and gave me all I needed.
By the way, is "in escrow" and "funded" the same? I guess it is but I ask because I recently received and offer that said the amount was in escrow, but in the e-mail it didn't say "funded" as it used to in other contracts. So I was hesitant.
Also, this coming weekend is a holiday weekend in the US. Monday is a federal/ bank holiday and lots of people are travelling this weekend for the unofficial beginning of summer.