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Back in March a friend of mine reached out to me for graphic design work for a crowdfunded project him and a small team were working on. Because I had worked with him in the past on some projects I was eager to help out. A few days later he provided me a contract stating the following:

  • Full payment for my services would be $1000.
  • Payment would be upfront, within 30 days of signing the contract, and after the crowdfund completion.
  • Additional payments given based on units sold.
  • I would maintain copyright while giving him an exclusive, royalty free, perpetual, irrevocable license to use, modify, distribute, and publish.

At the time the project was not ready to move forward with crowdfunding and I proceeded to begin work. I know that this was my initial mistake but we couldn't really move forward without the work that I had to do and gave my friend the benefit of the doubt. Crowdfunding did not begin until a little over 2 months later and lasted for a month.

A week after being funded 3x the goal amount I asked about payment from my friend and was redirected to his coworker. He stated that I still had more work to complete and began listing out everything I had left to do. I was a little taken aback by it at the time and didn't call out the fact that this wasn't per our agreement.

It is now nearly 5 weeks after crowdfund completion and I've done a few more hours of work for some essential things. I mentioned to my friend last week that I hadn't been prioritizing this project due to the fact that I had not been paid per our contract. He didn't respond to this bit and instead just gave critique on the content that I had sent him. A few days later he's asked for updates about the work assigned and I'm not sure how to respond. I'm nearly 80 hours into this project over the course of 4-5 months and would like some advice as to how to proceed. My biggest concern has been jeopardizing the unit sold payments since they are, in total, nearly 75x my initial payment but I have no way of tracking these on my own. I worry that they see my slower pace for work as laziness as opposed to not wanting to be ripped off for more of my time and effort.

Any advice and suggestions are appreciated, thank you!

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Explain to your friend (and any other stakeholders) that you are stopping all work and communications relating to this project until your contract is brought back into compliance. If you were supposed to be paid before work, then you need that money to continue, period.

Be firm, and expect that you may lose a friend out of this; unfortunately, that's the cost of doing business.

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