“There is no need for us to be tentative about stating our requirement for a deposit before we begin working for the client. We simply say, ‘We’ll get started as soon as we receive the deposit, as is our policy for all new clients.’

“We need not apologize for being responsible business people. Never again should we find ourselves attempting to clarify issues of payment after we have begun working on the engagement. This is the simplest of business tests, one for which there is no longer any excuse to fail: for all new clients, we will be paid in advance.”

Excerpted from Blair’s book, The Win Without Pitching Manifesto, available to buy as hard copy or read for free online.


This should be top on the designer’s manifesto. Too many times this comes up and it’s often the junior, upcoming or younger designers who fall for the trap, inadvertently degrading an industry. Have you heard of NoSpec? It’s a great tool/campaign that educates and shares speculative work stories.


I would say the deposit should be 100% refundable if the agency, designer, or consultant fails to provide the agreed upon service in a rationally appropriate way.

It’s why new clients should research and communicate with their designers first, so that they know why and who they are trusting their money to. It goes both ways.

I agree in principle. We ask for an ‘engagement fee’ from clients which varies depending on the client and the budget.

50% is too much though. For small businesses it’s too high. For charities it’s too high. Councils wont allow it through their procurement.

Depending on your client you have to be a little flexible.

This should be printed and posted in every design studio in the world. Spec isn’t popular here in Jamaica, but delayed payment is.

Yep! Deposit up-front should definitely be required by a designer. When I started freelancing, I learnt the hard way but now I ask for a deposit, especially for new clients and for large projects. After all I have to be a business person as well as a designer and good clients will be happy to pay it.

Yes this is a very good idea, where possible.

Some clients just cannot work this way and you do really have to use best judgement to work out those who are out to scam you and those who are genuine. It is not possible to work this way 100% of the time without loosing out on genuine opportunities but you should really strive to do it as much as you can.

Hi folks. Most of my projects are 50 percent in advance, the remainder before sending final artwork. Though there’s flexibility when a client’s particularly large with “net 30” terms, for instance.

I would extend that to *all* clients, not just new ones.
Also, when I’ve worked with some bigger / mutli-nationals with net 30+ terms, I’ve always made a point of stating my terms are ‘by return’ and in most cases they’ve paid within a week.

Hi David, I agree with your 50 percent advance. And while it certainly does depend on client to client, the upfront deposit before work commences has a positive commitment effect. I’ve learned the hard way (on more than one occasion) that clients who require urgent work and fast turnaround times quickly agree to the quotation and promise timely payment. Unfortunately, this has seldom worked in my favor because once the work is delivered, there is no stimulus to pay, and we are in the end running a business.

The other bit I’d add for all new designers (and experienced ones if it applies) is: Credit is never free. Somewhere, on some transaction, you are paying the interest for credit that you’ve given. A company’s reputation will determine whether or not credit should be given, but in the end a 30-day or 60-day term of credit (interest free) is borne entirely by the business giving it.

I’ve finally managed a decent balance, after 8 years of trial and error, by doing the following, which I hope helps anyone who needs it:

1. Collect 50% upfront from all new clients for amounts between $1500 and $5000.
2. Collect 20% upfront from existing clients for amounts between $1500 and $5000.
3. Collect 100% upfront from all clients for amounts less than $1500.
4. Collect a reasonable percentage for amounts greater than $5000.
5. Only give credit terms if your contract covers you and the client is reputable.

Good luck all, and thanks David for Logo Design Love. The book is awesome.

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