Hi Lifehacker, I’m in the process of planning a website design business. I have an ABN and I’ve designed my own website, but I have no idea where I stand in terms of charging people.
Design picture from Shutterstock
I was thinking of charging 50 per cent up front; I do the work and get approval from the client and then once complete, I ask for the other half. Is this common practice? Is it even legal? Any thoughts? Thanks, Aspiring Designer
Asking for some payment up front and then the rest later is certainly a common model (for site design and various other kinds of work). There’s certainly nothing illegal about it, but we’d make a few observations:
- The most important point is this: be very specific about what you’re going to deliver for the money. Don’t just say you’ll ‘design a site’; specify the number of pages it will include, whether you’ll provide the design elements, how much consulting you’ll do on what the client needs, and how ongoing maintenance will be handled. This might require a series of prices (a fixed basic site fee, charges for extra pages or tweaks, separate fees for ecommerce and so on.) If you don’t do this, you’ll risk being asked to repeatedly tweak or extend, with the threat of the other half of the payment held over you. Put this in writing; don’t rely on a verbal agreement.
- Set clear deadlines for payment: no work until the down payment is received, a fixed delivery date for the site, an immediate invoice and payment within 30 days.
- With this model, I’d set up and demonstrate the site but not deploy it until the final design has been approved and you’ve issued that second invoice.
- Not that this directly relates to your charging question, but you’ll need multiple example sites to show off. Web design is a competitive space.
- A final fiscal reminder: don’t forget to include GST in your prices for your Australian clients.
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