I am a web developer and SEO for my brother.

He has an insurance company and specialises on a certain type of customers that I address with special websites and SEO for him. I'm doing this for several years now and payments come sporadically and are still very low compared to what I put in in work days / work weeks. For me that is ok as we agreed upon that in the hope that one day he will be able to pay me more. Since about 1/2 a year we have kind of a written agreement (not signed) that I will get every 10th customer payment 2 years after first customer contact (because it usually takes so long until he gets payments from the insurance companies for the respective customer).

But 2 years are a long time if you invest a lot of work and (although I see that things improve for him) he is overworked, 100% busy and still struggling a little with business.

My Question: How could I make sure that I get my money 100% without making him a poor man today? What kind of contract would you come up with? What are your thoughts on this kind of business agreement?

Maybe as a last comment: I really like support him - but some times I feel like I maybe will never get my money..


Just very bad business on your part. I understand supporting family and everything. However, doing business with family is always a bad idea. The closer you are to family the worse the idea becomes.

You've set things up so you won't EVER be profitable.

Either just do it for free or "whatever and whenever" he feels like paying you - realizing you may never earn anything --- or charge for services when the services are rendered, like all business do.

Regardless of the client, any client, I would never agree to payment two years after services have been rendered.

My general practice with friends and family is.. I either do the work, whatever it is, free of charge, or I don't do the work at all. This is really the ONLY way I've found to avoid resentment from one part later.


Agreed. Your brother's situation will eat at you over time when you could spend the same hours working on your own book of business. Start branching out to find small businesses with the money to pay for your work then your brother will see that you're worth more than what he's offering.


You should start reducing your dependency for business on your brother or any other family member. The thumb rule is never to sell or provide service on credit to your family members, you will eventually be the last one to be paid and will always be doubted for the product or services you sold. There are several articles written in popular business magazines on why one should not sell or even lend to family members, google it and you will get this information.

You need to create a simple written agreement that you will get the money after two years and then move on to take other work (simple things like written agreements become an issue in family dealings and hence the first point that selling products or services to the family should be avoided). This agreement will ensure that you will get some money after two years if not now, something is better than nothing.

I am sure there are enough potential clients who will appreciate your work and will be ready to pay the right price. You need to show them the value - read some articles or books on value selling and show your potential client the value you will bring to the table and why you are different.

All the best!

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