Projects 10k words or more.
Thread poster: Manuel Rossetti (X)

Manuel Rossetti (X)
Local time: 13:30
Jan 9, 2007

Hello. How would you arrange payment terms for projects that have 10,000 or more source words. Would you ask for a percentage up front? Would you only get involved if you were established with the client? Would you work in segments and expect payment prior to commencing the next segment in the project? These are just a few general questions of the many I have. Perhaps you can help me out. Thank you.


Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:30
Member (2002)
English to German
Milestones Jan 9, 2007

Hi Alize,

For large jobs I usually negotiate milestones, i.e. after delivering each milestone a part of the remuneration becomes due.

I don't do this for 10000 words though, my threshold is higher.

I also won't ask for early payments if I know the client well and don't have any doubts that he will pay. For such clients it would have to be a very large job that spans over several months if I had to ask them for early payments.

Even if it is a new client I won't negotiate milestones if he has an impeccable rating in the Blue Board.

Good luck



Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:30
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Milestones are a good idea Jan 9, 2007

For a recent 30,000-word project, the client and I agreed that I would deliver the first 10,000 words, then he would pay for that portion promptly before I delivered anything else.

I already know and trust this client. Otherwise I'd probably have asked for the same deal after the 2nd 10,000 as well.

[Edited at 2007-01-09 22:57]


Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
A week's work Jan 9, 2007

Ralf Lemster, a regular poster and moderator at Proz, has posted some interesting remarks on this subject. As a veteran in the business you should be able to calculate your risks.

Even for big jobs, my payment terms for a regular customer would be my regular payment terms or the payment terms agreed upon.

I'll risk not being paid by a customer who has always paid. And I never ask to be paid in advance, even for jobs that will take me weeks or months.

And I always get paid (touch wood).



Manuel Rossetti (X)
Local time: 13:30
Reply Jan 10, 2007

Thank you Andy, Steven and Gerard for your help!


Saskia Steur (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
English to Dutch
+ ...
I never ask for payment up front Jan 10, 2007

I am with Gerard on this,
I have never asked for payment up front. I may consider this if I didn't know the customer and the job was something like 50 000 + words. I have always been paid promptly for large jobs. It's funny, but in my case problems with payment tend to arise for small jobs...
Best regards,


Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Matter of perspective/project timeline Jan 10, 2007

I would definitely not go so far as to say that I'd never ask for payment upfront. In the case of long-stretched, large-scale projects lasting several weeks or even months, it is VITAL to agree on a staged payment scheme. On the other hand, a somewhat larger project taking only two weeks may be invoiced in one go upon delivery.

As Gerard rightly put it, this is all a matter of risk management and mitigation. Please be aware of the fact that you extend credit (at no interest!) to your customer when working over a longer period without invoicing in stages.



Local time: 14:30
English to Chinese
+ ...
milestone payment Jan 10, 2007

10% downpayment
30% 1/3
20% half
20% 3/4
remains upon delivery


Lucinda Hollenberg  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:30
Dutch to English
+ ...
sometimes milestones and sometimes nothing up front Jan 10, 2007

I know that it is a gamble, but I am with Saskia and Gerard on this. I infrequently ask money up front. For some reason, I feel that it doesn't make good business sense.

That said, if it is a huge project, I may ask for partial payments along the line and explain that I will not have any other income while I'm working on the large project and need to pay bills. I might even do that with a regular, wellpaying client because that is the truth. I need to eat in the meantime.

I must say that I usually do not start out with a new client with a project of more than, lets say, 15-20k words.

I have one client who (not often enough) comes with big bears and offers himself to send a monthly chunks.

I agree with Saskia. The hassle at times is more about the little amounts.



Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Milestones Jan 10, 2007

Lucinda wrote:

I know that it is a gamble, but I am with Saskia and Gerard on this. I infrequently ask money up front. For some reason, I feel that it doesn't make good business sense.

I have no problems convincing clients to use milestones. In fact, they are quite content when they receive parts of the translation - the parts are not to be used, as they might be updated at the end of the work, but they reassure my clients that the work is proceeding as planned...


Irene N
United States
Local time: 07:30
English to Russian
+ ...
10K is not really a threshold Jan 10, 2007

It's a 3-5-day work, in place of the agency I'd be surprised to hear about such negotiations. 100K was my largest single project (boy, did I hate it in the end...) and it was up to me to request an intermediate payment. I was offered one. I said "I like fat checks". I had some money in the checking account, time to do short-time turnarounds and a few interpretation assignments. With a serious amount at hand you can do mighty:-) good, for example, pay off a credit card or a loan with a substantial interest and a bit later take another credit on much more favorable terms. Credit card emitents have poor nerves when you don't use their card for 1-2 months. Offers at 0% for 6-12 months, even for cash transfers, start pouring in like crazy...

[Edited at 2007-01-10 16:23]


Manuel Rossetti (X)
Local time: 13:30
Reply Jan 10, 2007

Thank you much Saskia, Steffen, Chinesetrans, Lucinda, Jabberwock, IreneN for your advise!

Breaking it down to numbers and percentages really helped me in putting this into perspective and also a better understanding of 'Milestones'. I'm referring to Chinesetrans' posting.

In the past I've been offered a few on-going projects that were lengthy in size and for a duration of time for an 'x' amount of months, however one in particular was a 12 month contract. I was to be paid 30 days after the project was submitted and I was bound to the project for 12 months. If I was unable to submit any work during the 12 month contract regardless of the reason, I had to pay the client. So in other words, not only would I not be getting paid for the work that I did not complete, but I'd have to pay that money to the client. I was bound to that 12 month contract and if for any reason, I was unable to finish the remaining few months, I owed that money. Too me, that's scary. I cannot predict what will happen a year from now. Furthermore, I have never heard of such a deal in my life. I simply refused that project.

Now thanks to everyone's help and advise, it's helped to put things into perspective for me.

[Edited at 2007-01-10 22:14]


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