๐Ÿˆ Community
mattbrown29
Member

Protecting your work on a milestone

I'm on an initial first round milestone for a graphic I'm designing in Adobe Illustrator and I exported as a PDF. My concern is that my client, who seems new to Upwork, could just take the graphic and not pay me for the next milestone.

 

Here are the steps I took:

  1. In Acrobat, I added a giant watermark
  2. In Acrobat, I added security, so that he can't print or edit the file without a password.
  3. I explained to him that I put a watermark on the file

Is there anything else I could do to protect my work? 

8 REPLIES 8
tta192
Member

...how does the client know that you will release the proper work after they pay?

It's worth protecting the work to an extent, but when this kind of question arises it usually means that either you or the client are uncomfortable with the associated risk. Which basically means, the milestone is too large.

The best approach is to break the project into smaller chunks, at least until enough trust is built.

Make the first milestone a $10, or $100 or whatever you're comfortable 'losing'; and see if they pay.

 

I explained in the milestone submission that I will remove the watermark once he approved. It doesn't help me to withhold the work in the end, becaues I want a good rating. The client may not care about a good rating because he may never use Upwork again.

 

The biggest issue is that I'm handing out graphics that he can just take and run with right now. I know how easy it is.

Actually, the watermarked version can be a milestone, just put it in writing:

- First Milestone: 80%, watermarked version

- Second Milestone: 20% protection removed

 

But the most important thing is, make sure the milestones are funded! Once they do that, and you submit proper work, they can run all they want - the money stays behind, and you get paid.

If it's not funded, you should not deliver anything usable. It's not even recommended to start working on the project; but delivering on a non-funded milestone is a big mistake!


@mattbrown29 wrote:

I explained in the milestone submission that I will remove the watermark once he approved. It doesn't help me to withhold the work in the end, becaues I want a good rating. The client may not care about a good rating because he may never use Upwork again.

 

The biggest issue is that I'm handing out graphics that he can just take and run with right now. I know how easy it is.

 

That's just not how the system works. The client escrows the funds, and that's supposed to be your protection. It's largely ineffective, but the system you've agreed to is he funds, you do the work and submit to him, he releases payment (or leaves it to auto-approve).

 

ETA: I see you've already successfully completed more than 40 jobs on Upwork. Why the sudden fears?


I am not the same field, but here is what I do. One milestone = the deliverable. It seems like some freelancers get burned when a milestone is an initial draft because sometimes the client decides to just use the draft. you can only dispute the amount in escrow. 

 

Submit the work through Upwork using the "submit work and request payment" button. The client has 14 days to approve it, request revisions, or dispute. If the client does nothing at that time,  the freelancer is paid. It is rare, but I have had clients who just ghosted after a submission but I have always been paid. 

Matt: Take Andrei's suggestion with a clarifier that X number of revisions will be included.

I'm sure this will be an unpopular opinion (my specialty) but what I would do to protect your work is absolutely nothing.

 

The protection needs to come before you agree to the offer. By sizing out the client, checking out his/her track record, and assessing what sort of person you are dealing with. If you do this right, your chances of getting ripped off are extremely low.

 

Once in a while, you'll get burned. You do have the escrow system (for what that's worth, sadly, not always that much). And you also have the fact that if the client doesn't pay for whatever you made, the client has no legal right to use it. (And clients often don't think about that part.)

 

Ultimately, once in a while you'll have to eat a loss. For me at least, this is just a cost of doing business, and a worthwhile tradeoff compared to the cost of trying to prevent it.

mtngigi
Member


@Matt B wrote:

I'm on an initial first round milestone for a graphic I'm designing in Adobe Illustrator and I exported as a PDF. My concern is that my client, who seems new to Upwork, could just take the graphic and not pay me for the next milestone.

 

Here are the steps I took:

  1. In Acrobat, I added a giant watermark
  2. In Acrobat, I added security, so that he can't print or edit the file without a password.
  3. I explained to him that I put a watermark on the file

Is there anything else I could do to protect my work? 


If you're that concerned, just save your Ai files as very low-res jpgs. I've never had a problem sending PDFs to my clients, but they know my PDF proofs are low-res and not the final press-ready files.

Learning Paths