Syzygy - 12:43 pm on Apr 23, 2010 (gmt 0)
It's a vexed question, isn't it? Do you put trust in your brand new customer and expect them to pay up after the work has been done? Or, do you take a more cautious approach and ask for part payment up front.
If the former, and your client decides to be difficult about paying, or just ignores you completely, then you're obliged to go down the legal route, which, of course, is a lot of hassle.
If the latter, and especially when it's a new client, do you risk upsetting them right from the off with your demands?
For the freelancer, I guess it all comes down to gut feeling: do you trust them or not? If not, why not? In such situations you need to ensure that anything agreed is in writing - and you have full contact details.
I've been working freelance for a little over a year now. Luckily, my few clients are all trustworthy. However, it is something that I know I'll need to face in the future.
My partner runs her own business; has done for a good number of years. She's faced with the same billing dilemma with every new client, of which there are many. As soon as it's appropriate, she tells customers that payment is 50% up front - and that work cannot commence until payment has been received.
For her at any rate, this works perfectly.