Poll: When you get a big project do you ask your client for advanced payment?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 23:18
Jan 28, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When you get a big project do you ask your client for advanced payment?".

This poll was originally submitted by Steven Capsuto. View the poll results »


Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:18
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Wow, I must have suggested this ages ago. Jan 28, 2010

I don't even remember submitting it, but I'm sure I said "advance payment" instead of "advanced."icon_smile.gif


Heike Kurtz  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:18
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
depends on the size Jan 28, 2010

If it equals up to one week's work, I have no problem doing it as one. But until now, my customers have been very understanding when I explained to them that, as a freelancer, it is nearly impossible for me to work for weeks without incoming payments, so we always agreed on some kind of at least monthly payment scheme.

I never translated books though and would be very interested to know how colleagues in the literary field manage their cash flow (I presume that translating a whole book takes a few weeks...).


Emin Arı  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:18
English to Turkish
+ ...
Absolutely no! Jan 28, 2010

If we speak of big project, i.e. more than 20.000 or 30.000 words and above, client usually pays in monthly installments not total sum at the end of project. This is generally accepted application. If somebody comes with a big project provided that whole payment is settled at the end of the project, please seek for a guarante or keep away.


Niraja Nanjundan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:48
German to English
Thanks for clarifying, Steven.... Jan 28, 2010

Steven Capsuto wrote:
... but I'm sure I said "advance payment" instead of "advanced."icon_smile.gif

.....I was wondering about that when I saw your name under the poll questionicon_wink.gif For a minute, I thought it might be US Englishicon_smile.gif


Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:18
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
It depends Jan 28, 2010

Usually not.
Though, I did it recently for a big project that we split together with 2 colleagues, we required advance payment.
It also happened once or twice that I required installment payments.
But generally, I don't take very big projects, 20.000/30.000 is a maximum.


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:18
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not on translation projects - usually Jan 28, 2010

All my life I've been paid once a month, and I seldom have a job that takes me more than a month, so the idea never occurred to me - and I'm sure it would throw my clients a curve if I asked! In fact I do tend to get large projects (four of them over 45,000 words in the last 2 years), but they usually get done within the month, or else I pick up some other parallel jobs that tide me over.

In fact, I would prefer not to get an advance. In the US we pay for bank transfers, and last year when a client insisted on paying an advance I had to pay the fees twice.

In the past, when I was an editor, I would get book-length projects for which my work was paid by the hour. Those contracts allowed for progress payments.


Mike (de Oliveira) Brady  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2008)
Portuguese to English
Staged payments Jan 28, 2010

I also ask for staged payments for large jobs. I specify this in my quotes if relevant, rather than after being awarded the job.

I've only had it taken up once, for a very large job transcribing and translating 5 television programmes of an hour and a half each. I was paying native speakers to do the transcription, so it was particularly important for my cash flow.


Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:18
Member (2008)
English to Italian
no Jan 28, 2010

usually my longest projects can be carried out within a month, so I have no problems.


Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:18
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
not usually Jan 28, 2010

but if it were a very long project, yes. However, a recent client offered to pay me 25 per cent upfront, then the rest. Since it was a long project and I had time for nothing else, I agreed.


Brandis (X)
Local time: 08:18
English to German
+ ...
Retainer yes.. Jan 28, 2010

Hi! As such many are not paying promptly at 30 day as agreed, meaning I am giving them 30 day credit. Then they either get nervous about the amount they owe despite having recd. the credit for 30 days and try to find ways and means of either to stall or reduce the payment and do as though they are busy with other projects or even pay to wrong accounts and show me that they have paid. Then the waiting begins, I remind them having mentioned which account should receive the payment such as account transfer or paypal etc., Then there are weekends and holidays and or the credit card owner usually the head of the project or the department is on vacation. I have seen all that. But when you ask for a retainer and get it also, all this does not happen. Brandis


Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:18
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It depends Jan 28, 2010

How bis is a "big project"?

Anyway, if it is a regular client, I know I should send the invoice right after delivery and that I will get paid within the agreed date acording to the agreed terms.

However, it is is a new costumer, specially a costumer with no references in the BB nor in the HFS or other similar feedback pages, or with a bad reputation, I ask for at least a 50% up front payment as a confirmation before even starting translating.

Sometimes it works, which shows also understanding and good faith in the client.
Sometimes it doesn`t work. In this last case, if the client refuses to give an advanced payment (which can be negotiated, 40%, 50%), so I either take the job at my own risk or I reject the whole project. It also depends on the size of the project and the online reputation of the client.

There is no single answer as there are many variables, many situations, many items to be considered. That`s why I voted "it depends".


Alexandra Speirs  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:18
Italian to English
+ ...
not for big ones but for legal stamps Jan 28, 2010

I only ask for advance payments for documents that have to be legalised, especially if there are a lot of pages (in Italy, one 14.62 euro stamp every 4 pages), as otherwise I would have to fork out the money for the stamps.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never Jan 28, 2010

I tend to have a relationship' of trust with my clients so it would not usually be necessary.
I think that asking for payment in advance might be seen as slightly demeaning, giving the impression that we do not trust the potential client one, or worse, are desperate for cash ("pobres desgraciados"), which is probably not a sound business strategy, even if true!
However, with new clients I am always wary now, having been stung twice in the past year, although for small amounts, after approaches via the proz site, which I am apparently not supposed to mention here...


Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:18
Dutch to English
+ ...
Progress payments not advances Jan 28, 2010

Nice topic Steven.

Here's my approach:

If a job falls over a month end - for instance 60,000 words to be done from say 20 January to 10 February - I'd typically arrange to deliver and invoice 30,000 words of it on 31 January.

My clients have never had a problem with this type of arrangment and it happens quite often with the type of work I do.

As for advances, I don't work for private individuals and don't rush into relationships with agencies or law firms, so feel no need to ask for advance payment.

I prefer to build up a relationship gradually, do my homework, know a client's preferences and have a good idea of a client's payment track record before taking on longer jobs.

In other words, a client becomes a regular client before I'd take on such jobs. I wouldn't take on a job of 5,000 words, let alone 60,000 words from someone contacting me out of the blue.


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