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How do the Milestones Work?

Ace Contributor

I am new to Upwork and am unsure as to how the milestones work.


I had a fixed price job and it was broken up into 3 milestones. Is it the client that breaks it up into milestones?


I simply submitted the milestones daily based on how much work I did. The project did not take long and so the client had no more work needed but I had only submitted 2 milestones for review.


Since the contract was ended at that point with only 2 out of 3 milestones submitted for review, does this work against me?


I took the job thinking it was going to be for X amount but it turned out to be for less since the project was ended once I has fully finished the project but only submitted 2 milestones for review?

Community Guru

Yes, the client sets the milestones, but the freelancer has the option of agreeing to them or not. Were they funded into escrow and were you paid for the first two pieces of work that you submitted fthem for review?


I imagine if the client has ended the contract, the third milestone would have been voided, unless it had been funded, in which case you would have been asked to refund the amount in the third milestone before the contract was closed.


ETA: Only the client can set or change the milestones.


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View solution in original post


But Valeria, can you explain that further?


There are many times I finish deadline-driven projects ahead of time - I just did one as a matter of fact  but I'm still being paid the full agreed-upon amount. My client funded 2 milestones, 2/3rds up front and 1/3rd to finish and send the file.


Shouldn't the OP receive her entire bid, even though she finished early?


ETA: Well, I guess that depends on how much of the fixed rate they funded - had it been less than the bid, I would have questioned it.



If the freelancer completed all three parts of the project as was agreed initially, of course they should be paid the full amount. However, from her post it sounded like the scope changed so she completed and was paid for 2/3 of the project. Please, correct me if I am wrong.

~ Valeria

I didn't get the impression that the scope changed, but the OP would have to clarify that. She did state that the job was completed. So ...

And while we are on the subject of milestones, I have a question, that I ought to know the answer to. If I send work via the message room, rather than from the "My jobs" page, will the client definitely see it?



The client will receive your message with attachments. However, if you don't click the "Submit Work/Request Payment" button, the 14-day review period will not start. So it's recommended to submit work using that form.

~ Valeria

Thanks, Valeria.



Ace Contributor

Virginia, you are correct.


There were not 3 distinct parts of the project since there is no way to split up into 3 pieces the information that she wanted. It was basically information that was needed and I provided that.  I probably should have asked my question when I saw that the job had been divided into 3!



No, the scope did not change. The client simply wanted information on whether the law supported her filing a lawsuit and I corresponded with her, did the research, and gave her my findings.  I simply did not understand what the milestones were or what they stood for. I went through my messages and there was nothing explaining how or why 3 milestones were chosen.

If you met the full requirements of the contract without any change in the scope ... and the client is happy, you should be receiving the full amount agreed upon.


Valeria ... correct me if I'm wrong.

Millie - it may be that the client worked with other freelancers using milestones and just assumed - a milestone is just what it states ... a meeting of a specific deadline with whatever parameters were put in place and agreed upon.


Some jobs are done with one milestone, some that stretch over a period of months can involve multiple milestones.


There is lots of information under the help menu that you may want to acquaint yourself with before your next job.

Ace Contributor

Yes, I have read most of what is in the Help section and that seems applicable. Had I not read those sections, I may have not even known to submit a request for payment for the first milestone!  I was going on the idea that I simply had to request payment when we were done and then I read the Help section. What confused me was that I had asked her if she needed anything else and before I got a response, she had closed the contract and the option to request payment for the 3rd milestone disappeared after that.

So ... the question is - did the client fund the full amount in the two milestones?


Edited to add: If the client funded the third milestone, then that payment will be automatically released to you after 14 days (if the client doesn't do it sooner).


Hopefully Valeria will step back in and help you out.

Millie, when setting up a fixed price job the client can set as many or as few milestones as they wish. Each milestone *should* represent a specific deliverable - an article, a file, etc. What the milestone represents should be explained in the milestone information. The client can split the budget between as many milestones as they need, add extra funds with an extra milestone, or cancel a milestone.


Let's say you agreed to do Task X for $300. If the client split Task X in to three milestones of $100, and you completed the task after 2 milestones and didn't get paid for the third milestone (so you only got paid $200), then the client owes you another $100. If the client set up three milestones, but the first two were funded for $150 each, so you got paid $300 total with one remaining milestone that's not funded, then you don't really need to worry, because you got paid the total that was agreed to.


In future, you should make sure you understand what the deliverable is for each milestone in a fixed price project. If you don't understand, you should discuss it with your client to make sure the expectations on both sides are the same.

Well the specific scenario was 3 milestones at 50$ each. I couldn't find anything at the time that explained what she put down as each milestone since this was not something with a  tangible deliverable of any kind. When I look at my reports, it shows she paid 100 and not 150. Since feedback has been left on both sides, are you saying that there is something I should be doing to get paid the additional $50 of the $150 agreed upon fixed price?



If your delivered work that you agreed to deliver for $150 than you should be paid $150. In order to be paid for the work delivered, the freelancer needs to make sure that the amount they want to be paid is funded in Escrow before they deliver work. If the third milestone wasn't funded, then unfortunately the client can simply close the contract. If it was funded, you would have received a request to approve or dispute the request to refund the money from Escrow to the client.


In any case, I'd suggest communicating with the client to clarify what was expected and what was paid. The client can still pay you $50 via bonus.


Check out this help article for more information about getting paid for fixed-price contracts.

~ Valeria