I have a new client that I met online for whom I have been doing some photo editing. We will be using paypal for payment. Should I give the finished work to client before or after they paid me?

  • I believe he's asking if he should deliver the work before he receives full payment. Oct 22, 2014 at 15:30
  • 2
    I see that this question has been edited quite a bit to make it more readable, which is awesome! That's what the community of peer review is all about! But, I must ask, what was agreed upon before you started working?
    – Canadian Luke
    Nov 24, 2014 at 16:53
  • 1
    Should I ... always tends to be a bit Opinion-based.
    – Daniel
    Jan 29, 2019 at 11:22

6 Answers 6


Always after. You've got to protect yourself.

The way I'd recommend structuring a project - and make sure you explain this beforehand - is to request a 50% upfront deposit (or whatever amount suits your project). You can say that you need the deposit to secure the project in your timetable which is a great way to get people to pay quickly.

Then you make sure they know that the remaining amount will be required on sign off of the project, but before any open artwork is released.

Again, a great way to get your invoices paid quickly. If you give the work before receiving payment I guarantee most clients will take their sweet time paying :)

In your case I'd suggest sending watermarked images for sign off and releasing the high resolution ones as soon as payment has hit your PayPal account.

Hope this helps!


Structure your payment in two stages

  • Upfront payment (this amount should at least cover your cost/min hourly rate)
  • Rest of the payment (Your profit)

So if for example you are doing a project/job for $100 and you need to spend at-least 4 hours on it...And if you minimum hourly rate is like $15 then you should at-least take $60 upfront

It will save you a lot.


I've used many Freelancers over the years - always as the employer. I've never not paid!

Try to see this from your client's view. If he pays you, then on the way out next morning, you have an accident, or you get arrested, or any other event out of your control, then, he is left with nothing. You are asking him to take all the risk, and not you.

I always pay after delivery. But yes, I agree with whoever suggested Escrow. It's safer for both parties. It's customary in UK to pay only for orders that involve the labourer/third-party-freelancer investing in materials.

It's not a trust thing, it's just normal business.


You should give the work to the client based on any conditions you agreed to beforehand.

From this point onwards you might want to specify that you give the final product to a client after the final payment. But, your current situation could be something completely different depending on what you agreed to with the client.

There are plenty of standard contracts out there for the future that will help you specify exactly what you want to happen for new clients though. It would be a good idea to find one that works for your preferences and make clients sign that before you agree to work with them.

Good luck!


There is an asymmetry in the process: money can be claimed and refunded. Work delivered electronically cannot be returned. So payment should come first.


Don't work like this way. If your client is highly trusted, then you can work and receive payment using PayPal.

I recommend you to sign up with elance.com, then find clients and start working after the client funds the escrow account. You are always secure with the elance escrow system, for both the client and the freelancer. The client will release the escrow fund on accept of the work.

The freelancer will be paid immediately after the client release the escrow fund. If the client doesn't release the escrow manually, it will release automatically after 20 days, and the freelancer will be paid. If the client doesn't agree to pay the freelancer, then the freelancer can open a dispute file and a dispute team will come to solve the problem.

So, both parties are secured. But, the freelancer has to be sure that the client funds the escrow before starting work. If the client doesn't fund escrow, the freelancer will not get the escrow facilities.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.