I am a graphic design freelancer and I have a client. I designed banners for him for his business. I charged 2 banners for only $80. Also, I gave him MULTIPLE options to choose from. I also told him, if there is anything that needs to be changed and edited, I can do it. First, I send him online multiple options of each banner in b&w. He liked them and chose one of the banners to add colour/background. So, I gave him multiple colour options. And since then, he hasn't emailed back for 4 days. He won't email me back and I haven't gotten paid. What do I do in this situation? I should have asked for 50% deposit up front. Please help.

  • 3
    No, don't keep emailing him. Give him a few days. go-me has some good advice, and if all else fails, after a week, pick up the phone and CALL. Jun 14, 2015 at 12:35
  • If you agreed on a fixed price than what is stopping you from sending the bill? Send it today! Why wait for them to agree on the design? If you truly did what you promised, than you don't need feedback or final akkoord. It's up to you to decide what your value for money is and when your design is finished. If additional changes are requested, than you just tell them that additional work is outside the scope of the initial agreement and thus can be done against an hourly fee.
    – allcaps
    Jun 15, 2015 at 23:41
  • Removing all the content in your question will not pair with the answers provided. I have rolled this back to make sense on why the answers were given. If you do not think any of the answers have actually answered your question please adjust but please do not remove all the content in your question. If an answer does in fact answer your question please accept it by clicking the check box.
    – user9447
    Jun 23, 2015 at 19:18

4 Answers 4


4 days isn't so bad. You can start being worried after 2 weeks. Clients are often busy and maybe the client also needs to see with his team what banner to choose and what revisions should be done. Keep in mind that your client might be dealing with big purchases, employee issues, equipment failures, etc. The small design projects are not always a huge priority to them and they might not know that you're all stressed about this.

I think it's better to wait a few more days and simply write back to him at the beginning of the week. One way you can get some updates (and not sound too desperate) is simply by asking something like:


I'm just checking if you received the last files I sent you. If you didn't let me know and I'll be happy to send them again!

I haven't receive any instructions for revisions, and if you already emailed them, would it be possible to send them again? I just want to make sure I'm not slowing down the design process.

I look forward to hearing from you. Have a good day!"

Your Name*


You really have to not harass your client and keep it laid back. It's also good if you look like you're just checking on the process as part of your job, and not because you want to get paid. If you look too desperate and mention the money issue all the time, that could project that you don't trust your client and this can be very insulting for a busy entrepreneur.

With the example I gave you above, you are asking your client to reassure you that you didn't make a mistake or missed a file. You're also showing that you care about his project. And you look friendly. Who knows how many upset people your client met that day! Don't be one of them ;)


Yes it's better to ask for some deposit before starting the job but indeed some clients don't like that. One way you can motivate them for a deposit is by giving a small rebate on the total project if they give you a deposit. Or offer many banners at wholesale price with a deposit and make your rebate worth it. Fix your price for one project without deposit to look less appealing and mention the economy he will do by using your wholesale or deposit system. Adjust your prices accordingly.

Your client may ask what's the logic of this system. what I tell my client (and it's also true) is that the deposit guarantees a priority for my services and they get scheduled to be completed first. It also, as an artist, gives you peace of mind and it makes the creative process easier for you if you don't have to worry about the payments.

Regarding the contract, that's something that won't magically protect you. It's better to have one to set the terms yes, but legally, you wouldn't start a legal action against a client for a $80 job and pay hundreds (if not thousands) of lawyers fee for this! So the contract is more to make sure you're on the same line and to explain your terms. For this, you can keep it simple. They might appreciate it because that will also give them some guideline on how you proceed with each project. But legally, for small projects, it's almost a decorative feature to have a contract.

  • 1
    At least in the US, small claims can often cost, at most, a couple of hundred dollars and is a very valid way to go after deadbeat clients. That said, $80 might not be worth it. Also, a contract is completely legally binding, so definitely have one.
    – DA01
    Jun 15, 2015 at 18:57
  • I mentioned to have one but not count on it as a bulletproof protection. It's a myth. Small claims work for projects that are 1) a few hundreds to a few thousands of dollars worth ($3000 in USA?), 2) client in the same country as yours and 3) if you don't spend the equivalent in time and your hourly value+transport trying to get your money. Also, your contract < international laws/treaty, etc. To sue oversea, your claim has to be above $10,000 in a lot of cases to be even considered. That's why contracts are really not a guarantee to be paid for some projects and from some clients.
    – go-junta
    Jun 15, 2015 at 19:20
  • 1
    Yes, international transactions are a whole other can of worms!
    – DA01
    Jun 15, 2015 at 19:33

Send email after 3 days, then after 5 days, then once in a week. Sometimes I hear back from them after 1, 2 or EVEN 3 months. Its normal! Some clients are really really bad.

I use Google Apps for Work, meaning, I have registed my company email with Gmail, so its like [email protected] and I login from Gmail.com, this gives me chance to have some really good plugins/extension within Chrome+Gmail. I have something called "Sidekick" formal name Signal. When I choose to send with Sidekick, I get notification whenever the client opens the email. I start getting checking email and get ready for them to send reply, often they answer within 2-3 minutes after and I am 100% ready to read their reply and reply them back. When I am fast they become also fast.

Some clients have strict email policy, e.g. they only check e-mail during certain times of day, if I dont reply them when they reply I have might have to wait for the their next cycle. So I always prepare myself when I get the notification.


Yes, you should have collected a deposit.

I'm guessing you don't have a contract either.

Four days isn't that long though. Live and learn. There's not much you can do after the fact without a contract.

  • 2
    This isn't entirely true. At least in the US, verbal contracts can be as binding as written ones. There's always small claims court. Keep a record of all the email exchanges. (Granted, it's likely not fiscally prudent to go to small claims over $80, but it's not always about the money)
    – DA01
    Jun 13, 2015 at 23:22
  • 2
    @SHE depends on your jurisdiction, but often emails can be considered contracts. A formal contract is much better, as it sets up expectations for both you and the client from day one, but you still may have recourse here. As for asking for a deposit, that's a pretty cut-and-dried line-item in the contract, usually under a section called "Payment Schedule". Typical terms are % upon agreement of this contract, remainder due upon final delivery.
    – DA01
    Jun 13, 2015 at 23:23
  • 1
    True, some emails can be seen as an agreement. An actual contract tends to do more to cement the fact with clients that they actually have an obligation though. It's more psychological when it comes to the client. In court, an actual contract is better, but I don't mean to imply email is worthless - it is not. $80 isn't enough to warrant legal action in my opinion, and 4 days is really nothing. After 15 or 30 days, that's when there's a clear issue. Not everyone is at a computer as much as a freelance designer may be.
    – Scott
    Jun 14, 2015 at 21:35

what is a nice way of asking 50% deposit?

What I do is I tell them "I require a 50% downpayment for all new clients before I can begin work."

If the job is really big, I will only ask for 25% or 30% up front. They should not get weird or reluctant if they are legitimate business people. When you order a product from a website, you pay before they ship the item, not after you receive it.

If they hesitate or complain about the deposit, that's a red flag to me, and indicates it's someone I don't really want to be doing business with.

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