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I have started freelancing for couple of weeks and have done few projects.

While doing it I found myself in risky situation when client ask progress and also want to see it done. which means I have to send them what work I done to the date. So they can know their project is on progress and will be completed on time.

But on the other end If I send them almost done project and if they think they don't need my help they could just leave the project without paying.

One thing I have been thinking is to ask for small Milestone payment before every regular progress. (What if they want update everyday?)

It is possible to have bug while project is on progress and they might refuse to pay subsequent milestone.

So..
How do you report and demonstrate project without risk of losing code (work done) before you are paid? (In situation where you are freelancing and client is at remote location)

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First of all I would recommend doing either up front payments (for small amounts, which I define < $1000) or milestone payments with clearly defined milestone, so you aren't worried about being paid and they aren't worried about you walking off with the money without doing any work.

Now it depends on what you are working on as to how to keep the client up to date.

  • Often it is good enough to send an email saying I've finished X and Y and have started on Z.

  • If you are doing a web project you can have a test server that has the latest progress running that they can look at.

  • You can also use something like Trello which gives them a visual on the tasks/features that you have done, are currently working on, and still pending.

Clear communication is necessary right from the word go. Agree on exactly what you will be delivering and when, and have it in writing. They will change their minds. That's natural, and as good customer service you should change what you are delivering to meet their needs, but the agreement will give you the leverage to actually get paid for what you have done, rather than having them say I didn't ask for that I'm not paying. This also requires you to be reliable and deliver things when you say you are going to. And as soon as you think you won't make that deadline, you need to say something and make them aware of the fact that it is taking longer than expected.

  • I didnt think about using online collaboration tool. It is good idea -although project isnt demonstrated it still gives overview of what is happening. – Mike Aug 13 '15 at 13:27
  • For regular updates I think I can ask for weekly milestone. - I liked the advice about clear communication, I will be spending some time researching how to use milestone and online collaboration tools. I have better understanding now so I am gonna mark this answered. Thanks. – Mike Aug 13 '15 at 15:01

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