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Getting Paid for your Web Design Work – Killersites Web Design Magazine

Getting Paid for your Web Design Work

Getting paid is a huge part of a web design business … actually any business!

In this podcast, I go over a bunch of details about how to collect from and bill clients.

… And a bunch of other stuff too.


Stefan Mischook


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21 responses to “Getting Paid for your Web Design Work”

  1. This is great. Hear about the 3 payment deal before. I also thought this would probably be the way to get paid. And for the same reasons you mention. Question…Like I mentioned before, I would like to have a reoccurring monthly payment plan that actually takes care of light maintenance. $29, $39, $49, what ever I might charge.
    Okay, who gets the hosting and domain bills? Who’s the owner? Do I for instance set up an account with GoDaddy, get a domain name and host for the customer (doing this with 1/3 pmnt), and use the reoccurring payments to pay the continuing hosting, domain, and maintenance cost? Or do I set the customer up with an account on GoDaddy?
    I would think that by me having some sort of reoccurring payment, that I would handle all of the bill paying, and just get them there monthly invoice from my company.


    First one to post because ever since I found this site, I’ve been checking daily for the new new. What’s your next topic on web business?

  2. “Okay, who gets the hosting and domain bills?”

    The client – it’s their site.

    You can control the domains but it is considered a black hat practice .. unless you indicate in the contract that the client does own the site.

    You would do this to make it simple for the client because for many, buying domains etc is a hard thing to do. If you can walk them through a domain and hosting purchase … that would work too.

    Hope that helps,


  3. Yes, Stefan is right. Its always good to walk client through the domain and hosting purchase. More importantly the domain purchase. Wesite design and website templates can also come under same practice, because sometimes license is only given to person who is purchasing it and not the third party. So be careful while doing these type of transactions.


  4. quick question – I have a proposal with a client that has a 50% down to start the work and 50% at completion. The client doesn’t want to pay the 50% down before work begins. She feels that she only wants to pay for work performed. I personally only feel comfortable with the payment up front. Do you have any suggestions on how to explain why I feel I should be paid up front. Isn’t that a pretty common request from Designers? 50/50 payment system for smaller amount jobs?
    Any help would be great!

  5. Hi Heather,

    To be paid a portion up front is standard. Remember that as a web designer you are selling your time .. this is something you can’t repossess if your client does not pay.

    You can suggest a compromise of 33% up front, 33% on delivery of the first draft and then the final payment on completion.

    You should point out to the client that after you do all the work, you will have no recourse should problems occur. If the client is reasonable and honest, she will more than understand. If on the other hand, the client is crooked or inexperienced, you will have trouble.

    .. In the later case, just walk away. I can tell you from experience that typically, the cheap-ass clients, are almost always the most problematical and demanding. These vampires should be avoided at all cost!!

    Hope that helps,


  6. Stefan,

    I am a client, not a fellow web designer…

    At the moment, I am in the process of developing an ecommerce site in my dining room. Myself and two others have been working on this project, day and night, for the last 3 months…

    I had been involved on a similar project 6 months prior. Unfortunately, it was poorly marketed and, unbeknownst to the company, it wasn’t legal!

    We have resolved both problems and I’m getting positioned to start building a new business.

    The site will include many standard, everyday templates with one big exception…We will be working with highly sensitive customer information (both text and video) that must be stored and available for access by authorized personnel, only. In other words, data stored on this site is highly confidential (not just credit card information) in nature.

    In summary:
    I have a service that is in high demand (waiting lists of up to 12 months).
    The service has gone through prototype testing and it cashflows with excellent gross margin!
    I have people in place to support the project once the site is up and running.
    The site is highly scalable so once the first design is complete,
    the next service(s) will be quick to follow.
    The business will be eligible for both private and government grants due to its social relevance and impact.

    Question: How can I get a highly skilled web designer to work on this project but willing to except 180 day terms or sweat equity participation in the plan?

  7. Hmm,

    That depends on how well you can present the project. Some may go for it … but many probably won’t.

    You may need to take on the web designer/developer as a full partner in the business and that is a whole other issue.


  8. I use the “affliate” program for my clients. I tell them they own the domain and the website and it is good for one year.

    They pay approximately $80 and I do all the work setting up their account and doing a starter page.

    The affliate return sometimes equals $75, depending upon specials at my Host Provider, which pays me if they bail.

    I also use the 33% up front, 33% on delivery of the first draft and then the final payment on completion.

    And, hopefully, I can get a maintenance contract from them also. I start with 90 days free corrections and changes, then shift to $50 per hour. If they buy a maintenance contract I go much easier on them.

  9. Hi Stefen,

    I have watched most of your video tutorials and tips, and I have to say you are incredible.

    But unfortunately, none of your videos (I have watched) is really audible. I mean, you voice is very low in your videos, though I have increased my volume up to 102% (lol !), I still have problems to get you, and I have to stick my ears against my speakers ! (funny, isn’t it ?)

    So please, next time, maximize your volume while recording, and if it’s too much for us, we will decrease the volume our end.

    Much better than less.

    Anyway, I do love your videos tuts !

    Keep posting them !

  10. Hi guys, thank you very, very much for sharing all these tips with the rest of us. As someone who’s just starting out and trying web design as a much needed career change, I am finding these pages incredibly helpful.

    Wonder if you can help me out with a a bit of a dilemma. Just putting together my first website, stupidly without a contract as it is for someone I know (not a friend, more like an acquaintance).

    She gave me a bunch of pictures to add to the website, I told her time and time again I could only use pictures if she owned the copyright or had a licence. I highlighted the importance of not being in breach of copyright etc, both verbally and by email. I then offered to take pictures myself, both of the business and staff, which I did, I also took some time editing them and making them look great. Stupidly, I did it for no extra charge, thinking I had made it clear enough the pictures were for the website alone.

    I went to see her 2 days ago and found new brochures she’s had printed using some of my pictures, needless to say without my permission. I feel like she’s taking advantage of me and she knows it. As soon as I picked the brochures up she said “oh sorry, I probably should’ve asked you first”.

    I now feel like I should charge her for the pictures somehow but don’t want to get on the wrong side of her as without a contract I fear she might just pull out and I won’t see a cent for my efforts. But on the other hand I’m seriously annoyed that she’s knowingly taken advantage of our friendly relationship and is going to get away with it.

    Does anyone know where I stand with this??? I thought of charging her extra saying it’s for the “licence to use the pictures” which would “cover her for what she’s already done with them”.

    Anyway, sorry this is getting a bit long, I’m upset and frustrated and don’t know what to do! Many thanks to anyone who may be able to offer some advice, I need to do something soon!

    Much appreciated

  11. First, don’t beat yourself up on this because it is a classic beginners mistake many people make.

    So I see two issues here:

    1. You did not charge for ALL your time.
    2. You did not get a payment in advance.

    What can you do?

    Be nice and recognize that you failed to manage your client properly. When dealing with clients, you have to be like the Dog Whisperer and recognize that you have to through your actions, train them on how they should treat you.

    So now, I would say something like:

    “Since we did not anticipate me having to take pictures, I did not include it in the original quote. It took me x amount hours to shoot and edit the photos, so I will be adding x$ to the final invoice.”

    If they are reasonable people, they will agree. If they protest, just mention the extra time you spent and mention how they used the images in two places, so they got twice the gain from your work.

    Next, get the invoice in their hands ASAP.

    Next time, be more fair to yourself about your time and do get some money up front!!

    … I talk about all this in the Business of Web Design series I put out.

    Hope that helps,


  12. It’s very important when specifying payment terms in the contract to include penalties for late payment without prior written agreement. Additional fees of 2%/month or 0.5% per 7-day period usually concentrates a company accountant’s mind wonderfully! The client may also insist on penalties for late delivery so, as stated in the blog, it’s vital to get the project specifications, project management, times frames and delivery schedules as accurate as possible.

    Thank you for a great blog and sharing your wisdom with us.


  13. Hello thank you for this wealth of information, it truly serves a good deal to people like myself who are trying to make their way in this amazing business. I wanted to ask a question, I recently began working on projects with someone where I basically came aboard freelance to take on a few things here and there.

    They basically would find the clients and I would do all the designing,coding, and work needed to get the site up for the client. We never spoke about money or contract “BAD MOVE” and recently it came up. The other person feels it should be a 50/50 split, but I feel that since I’m doing all the work (Design and implementation of the actual project) that there should be a percentage payout where I receive a bit more because I am doing all the work and spending my time to develop these projects.
    They argue that they have to have contact with the clients, and respond to them via phone and emails etc..

    so basically are stating that they are working just as hard and should receive half of whatever the job is quoted for. This would mean if I priced a site at say $1000.00 and I spent all my time working on it and getting it up and running I only get $500.00 – Just doesn’t seem quite right to me. Could anyone give any advice or feedback as to if my notions are right and how I should approach this?

    Thank you

  14. @Nyle,

    I would suggest breaking it down by the hour – how many hours have you put in vs. how many hours the other guy put in.

    If the other guy got the contract though, then he deserves at least 10% on top of that. That all said, if he got the contract (and it is HIS client) and he hired you, then he can pay you what he wants.

    …. You can charge what you want too!


    … But, that might not guarantee you the work.

    Next time, clear all this up front BEFORE you do any work.

    Some more important tips:

    – stay calm and try to see things from different perspectives.
    – don’t let people walk all over you, but nonetheless stay calm.
    – try to get things clarified before you invest time into any project .. so you and the client know where you stand.

    I hope that helps,


  15. Hi Stefan thanks for the quick response , I truly appreciate it!

    Its a weird scenerio but basically the other person doesn’t even have contracts set yet between 1. Clients and 2.Myself.

    So far for what “we” have done – it’s basically been them fishing out for clients who need sites done and trying to convince them they should use their service – which would be me.

    From what I get they are trying to start up their own company and well I came in originally just to maintain and make edits on a few sites that had currently existed from time to time but then they asked if I’d be interested in taking on some projects as they wanted to start something up.

    Currently there are no contracts in place so I’m basically freelancing (not for hire) each project but I basically wanted to know if sitting down and saying to this person that what we get paid should go on a percentage rather than 50/50 is the right call.

    I always want to be fair and want to make sure that I am being that way. I’ve been designing sites for about 5+ years now more so for myself and just recently for work + earning $ and more experience but I want to be sure that I am not selling myself short and being taken advantage of as this is usually the case ;O) .

    Someone suggested to me that if all they are doing are pulling in the clients sending a few emails and making a few phone calls and I’m doing all the design work, programming and coding it doesn’t entitle them to take half of the profit made, but again I just want to make sure I’m going in the right direction.

    Thanks again for reading all this, its good to have an outlet for issues surrounding this kind of stuff.

  16. “Someone suggested to me that if all they are doing are pulling in the clients sending a few emails and making a few phone calls and I’m doing all the design work, programming and coding it doesn’t entitle them to take half of the profit made, but again I just want to make sure I’m going in the right direction. ”

    Generally I would agree. But, the most important question is: can you get your own clients?

    … If you can’t, then the sales guy has leverage. In terms of fairness, you have to determine how much time is he putting into the process – dealing with clients can be very time consuming!

    There are few set-in-stone rules when it comes to this business (and most others) so you have to play it by ear sometimes. So, the most important questions are:

    1. do you need him/her to get you work?
    2. would he/she be stuck if you left?

    I hope that helps,


  17. Thanks again Stefan your insight did help!
    Truly appreciate it and thanks for taking your time to answer.