I am having many arguments with my client about the terms of a large project and need some advice. The client is a middle man linking me up with the company that needs the website, so the end customer is this company that my client knows, that I have no connection to, other than through him.

I agreed to do freelance work for an extremely reasonable price, way below what its worth.

What (I) the freelancer wants

I tried to come up with an extremely reasonable contract that contains information about payment due dates, if any changes are made to project scope additional fees apply, project files are to be delivered after no balance remains, $30 late fee per day will be applied daily after exceeding 5 days after the due date.

Are any of these terms unreasonable? Aren't the terms usually a lot worse?

What the client wants

The client refuses to adhere to my contract and wants to create his own contract that says that payment due dates may change at any time and I will be paid 7 days after I show progress with the site (which can be whenever he wants). Progress with the site will be shown using CFT which forces me to transfer files to his server, so this means I deliver half the project before I get paid and last but not least, no late fees. Since when do clients make the contract between them and the web developer?

I'd appreciate any advice, with this situation.

Many thanks in advance!

2 Answers 2


Having gone through same situatuion many times i would suggest you following:

  1. Your contract is reasonable. The middle man should put his time in reading the complete spec and make sure he knows what he wants.
  2. You can identify areas in project which are quite subjective and may require revisions make sure you define number of revisions per item
  3. If client changes the scope , there must be a definition of change in contract, for example a change in logo would not just mean changing the artwork but it means replacing it on the website and branding etc. If done in the very beginning it might not cost much but at the end of project it will cost a lot if used in many places
  4. If the project has vague definitions for items then it will put more stress on you later so make sure you have clearly define all aspects of it.
  5. Middle man usually tries to make sure project gets delivered on time and his share get to him while keeping some part of it unless its stable in production. That is acceptable as long as scope remains same.
  6. Define the milestones clearly so both of you know what is being delivered otherwise you will end up explaining a lot and wasting time.
  7. If you are providing support make sure its covered in contract.

Some of my thoughts but i think if you and client are clear on what is being delivered then you are good to go.

  • Thanks for the reply. Client will put down a %25 deposit. Should I go with his terms, even though there are no late fees, no real payment due dates? Jan 31, 2013 at 2:13
  • If you dont make delivery dates now and not clear when you get payment then i would say its very lucky if its a happy ending. Consider putting concrete dates in project dont rush it. once it is in words it will help you. Clients covert for late delivery but you cover yourself for changes to scope and moving goal posts. Jan 31, 2013 at 2:18

Personally charging late fees is unnecessary and something id expect from a horrid bank, you should set-up a payment system that forces or encourages them to pay up. Either ask for a reasonable deposit 30-50% and hold onto the protect until full payment has be made. Alternately consider escrow. and ensure they have funds... additionally if your having problems now before work it may worsen...

If you want to use a milestone system then just stop work and tell them you have stopped until the milestone has been paid - no need to charge - work on smaller projects while you wait. You should find if they are pleased with your work and know you stopped they will be eager for you to continue.

Additionally businesses are normally slow at paying - as a freelancer sometimes you just need to roll with it.

  • +1 Thanks for the reply. He is paying a %25 deposit, that will apply to the total cost, before I start the project. Should I just agree to his version of the terms, as long as I have the deposit? Jan 31, 2013 at 2:09
  • Deposit amounts should set depending on the risk.. ie if you cant retain any of the work without any reassurance then the risk is higher so the deposit should be... don't be pressured into accepting terms but also dont be pushy. come to some grounds your both happy with. Jan 31, 2013 at 2:25

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.