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jbestille
Community Member

I need advice on tactfully telling a client...

...that ALL milestones, draft & final, must be funded before I begin work. I've been burned too many times by client taking the draft and never funding the final.

 

But it is difficult to tactfully say that both must be funded - I have tried directly but they always push back and it seems rude on my part...not sure.

 

Advice appreciated.

ACCEPTED SOLUTION

John, don't forget that the milestone system has a built in "request revisions" function. You can submit a draft for payment and your client has up to 14 days to review it and request revisions if he/she wants any, so there's no reason you shouldn't that submit button on submission of your first draft.

 

 

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24 REPLIES 24
tlsanders
Community Member

If that's important to you, you need to lay it out way up front, either in your proposal or when you accept the offer. Don't explain and don't think about it as something that needs to be justified--it's just how you use the system.

 

"Sounds great. As soon as you're able to fund both milestones, I'll get started. If you can do that today, I will have the first draft to you X day."

 

That said, I never require this. I know a lot of freelancers feel strongly about it, but since the vast majority of the work happens in the first draft, the vast majority of funding goes into that milestone, anyway. If it were 50/50 I might be worried, but I can't think of any logical reason to work on that basis. A first draft is 80-90%, so the risk of loss is pretty small (as is the incentive for the client to blow off the rest).

luce-neidert
Community Member

When it comes to making sure I'm paid for my work, I don't bother to be tactful. 

bobafett999
Community Member

It is actually very easy.  Just say that the work will begin after the milestones have been funded.  Mention that Upwork does not allow freelancers to work on Unfunded milestones.  Also, try to frontload the milestones e.g. draft 60%, revision 1 20% and final 20% and add a caveat that the final delivery will include a release letter.

 

And be ready to bluff.  If you are right, pony up the $300 arbitration fee.  If the buyer is a scammer, they will not risk losing milestone escrow amount +300.  If they don't fight you win by default and get back that $300 + escrow money.


@Prashant P wrote:

It is actually very easy.  Just say that the work will begin after the milestones have been funded.  Mention that Upwork does not allow freelancers to work on Unfunded milestones.  Also, try to frontload the milestones e.g. draft 60%, revision 1 20% and final 20% and add a caveat that the final delivery will include a release letter.

 

And be ready to bluff.  If you are right, pony up the $300 arbitration fee.  If the buyer is a scammer, they will not risk losing milestone escrow amount +300.  If they don't fight you win by default and get back that $300 + escrow money.


Upwork advises freelancers not to work on unfunded milestones, but does not forbid it.

 

And why on earth are you talking about arbitration before a contract even begins? So unprofessional.


@Jess C wrote:


Upwork advises freelancers not to work on unfunded milestones, but does not forbid it.

 

And only the milestone in progress, not the full project.

kathy1010
Community Member

Spoiler
John, when that happens to me, I exude enthusiam and say, "This is great and I can't wait to get started as soon as the milestone is funded." The enthusiam takes away the sting, I find.

@Jess and @Tiffany:  Haven't you heard of streching the truth or telling white lies to be bit 'Tactful'?  OP wanted a tactful response - blame it on Upwork rules.

Sure, I've heard of it. I'm just not a liar, and don't encourage others to lie.

 

Even if I were a dishonest person, I wouldn't be dumb enough to lie about something the client may already know and can easily check in 30 seconds. Then, the client either knows you're a liar or thinks you're stupid--neither is a good way to start a professional relationship.

?

Its like tactfully advising someone that water is wet.

 

It shouldn't even be necessary. Upwork isn't designed for freelancers to work on unfunded milestones. If some client got away with that with some other freelancer in the past, that has nothing to do with me.

 

Anyone I work with knows I work on milestones after they have been funded. And they know I don't accept advance payments. I use Upwork escrow the way it is meant to be used.

He's not talking about working on an unfunded milestone, though. He's talking about insisting that all three or seven or 23 milestones on a project are fully funded before working on milestone 1.

Correct. I want ALL milestones funded before work is submitted. 

 

I think I may move to have just one milestone and leave it at that...

Funding all milestones before work has begun doesn't make any sense.

 

I can't even wrap my head around the concept.

 

That is called one large milestone.

 

I would not do that as a freelancer, because I want to do one specific task and then get paid for it. I don't want to wait until everything is done in order to get paid.

 

I say this as someone who does NOT work on Upwork as a writer.  So I am not mixing my milestones and payments or anything.

 

Very honestly, if I set up a milestone with a client, the work I submit for it is fully compensated by the payment. If the client wants to work with me on the next milestone, that is great. If she wants to work with someone else, that is great.

 

If that isn't how other freelancers are working, I am sorry to hear it.

 

I am not "counting on" the final milestone to actually break even.

So I see what you are saying - if you have one writing project, the first milestone is full payment in your eyes...right? Makes sense - that is one complete project and NOT a milestone IMO. 

 

Usually, I get a draft milestone, then a final milestone. If its just one payment complete for the whole thing its just a project price.  Got it.

 

Thanks.

John, don't forget that the milestone system has a built in "request revisions" function. You can submit a draft for payment and your client has up to 14 days to review it and request revisions if he/she wants any, so there's no reason you shouldn't that submit button on submission of your first draft.

 

 

Preston, I don't look beyond the present milestone, either, but we seem to be in the minority among established freelancers. Quite a few successful regulars in the forums have mentioned that they never start work on a project until the whole project is funded, even though it's broken out into milestones.

 

I'm not sure, but I think the rationale (or part of it) involves wanting to avoid downtime between milestones. I'm not sure how full funding actually provides protection, but that's my understanding of what many are doing. Hopefully someone who actually does this will come along and clear it up for us.

i always thought of milestones (draft/final) as a way to put the client at ease - if they feel like it's all or nothing it may make them uncomfortable. But that's out the window now!

kat303
Community Member


@John B wrote:

i always thought of milestones (draft/final) as a way to put the client at ease - if they feel like it's all or nothing it may make them uncomfortable. But that's out the window now!


 

IMO, the draft milestone should represent the majority of the job and the majority of the payment. The 2nd and final milestone should be sort of the clean up and X amount of revisions thus requiring a much smaller deposit into escrow when you get to that stage.

 

Of course, I don't know what type of writing this job entails so if It's a big job like writing a book, or a white paper, grant or ? you may even break down that 1st milestone into smaller parts.

 

As for tactfully telling a client to fund a milestone. - this is a business, You don't need to tactfully tell a client. Just state your requirements. "I'll start work just as soon as the first milestone is fully funded for $X as agreed on for the deliverables for that milestone.

 


@Preston H wrote:

... Anyone I work with knows I work on milestones after they have been funded. And they know I don't accept advance payments ...


 And how exactly does one *refuse* advance payments? Do you kidnap the client and tie them up? Steal their mouse and keyboard?

 

I'm not being entirely facetious; rather, truly curious ๐Ÿ˜ƒ I have a client who boths funds AND releases payment before I start work on the next milestone.

 

I recognize this is a counterintuitive issue; however, as much as I want to get paid for work I have completed, I similarly do not want to be paid for work I haven't.

 

It's not a mistake. The client understands escrow and purposefully releases milestones immediately.

 

I've broached the topic during conference calls, "Hey ol'buddy Mr. Client, I appreciate it but its really not necessary ..."

 

The client is great. It's good solid work. Quite simply, upfront payment is a business practice he exercises for both his own clients as well as his contractors. 

 

I cannot stop the client from paying. I cannot pause time on the security hold ... when the money's available, poof there it is. Refunding isn't an option. The best I can do is avoid withdrawing the funds.

 

The whole thing makes me somewhat uneasy.

I have a client who boths funds AND releases payment before I start work on the next milestone.

 

I've had that happen.  I just say 'thank you' and confirm the payment has gone through - and have no qualms about withdrawing it. Sometimes it's because that's simply how they operate, sometimes it's done as a psychological pressure point to speed me up/make me prioritise that particular project. 

 

I don't waste time worrying about it. It's no different in my head to being aware that a long-time client I have takes up to a week to respond to emails. Unless the way they operate causes me some sort of problem, they can run the project however they like. 

tlbp
Community Member


@Steven E. L wrote:

@Preston H wrote:

... Anyone I work with knows I work on milestones after they have been funded. And they know I don't accept advance payments ...


 And how exactly does one *refuse* advance payments? Do you kidnap the client and tie them up? Steal their mouse and keyboard?

 

I'm not being entirely facetious; rather, truly curious ๐Ÿ˜ƒ I have a client who boths funds AND releases payment before I start work on the next milestone.

 

I recognize this is a counterintuitive issue; however, as much as I want to get paid for work I have completed, I similarly do not want to be paid for work I haven't.

 

It's not a mistake. The client understands escrow and purposefully releases milestones immediately.

 

I've broached the topic during conference calls, "Hey ol'buddy Mr. Client, I appreciate it but its really not necessary ..."

 

The client is great. It's good solid work. Quite simply, upfront payment is a business practice he exercises for both his own clients as well as his contractors. 

 

I cannot stop the client from paying. I cannot pause time on the security hold ... when the money's available, poof there it is. Refunding isn't an option. The best I can do is avoid withdrawing the funds.

 

The whole thing makes me somewhat uneasy.


 If the client releases the funds and you don't withdraw them, then I think there's no harm in the practice. The money will be in your account if you need to issue a refund for some reason. Paying upfront is probably a good method for ensuring that your contractors put your work at the front of the line. 


@Prashant P wrote:

Haven't you heard of streching the truth or telling white lies to be bit 'Tactful'?


Prashant: you, Bill, and Will should pool your expertise and start an agency. It has a nice ring to it.

In writing, I never do a 'first draft'. I do the job. The client has 14 days after I hit submit to ask for changes. The thing is...what if he decides your 'draft' is fine and opts not to go for the 'final draft'?  I miss out on money. I don't particularly like that. 


@Irene B wrote:

In writing, I never do a 'first draft'. I do the job. The client has 14 days after I hit submit to ask for changes. The thing is...what if he decides your 'draft' is fine and opts not to go for the 'final draft'?  I miss out on money. I don't particularly like that. 


 I agree with your approach, but most client never request a revision, and when clients have broken the job into draft and revision milestones, they've always come back and paid the balance promptly upon determining that they didn't need a revision.

Steve wins the internet for what might be the most astute comment of the month.  Although I do not think Bill H. would be a good fit as he really does not practice or kindly endure subterfuge.

 

"Prashant: you, Bill, and Will should pool your expertise and start an agency. It has a nice ring to it".

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