Starting a project


Projects are a place to collaborate with clients, exchange payments and store deliverables — all in one location. When starting a project with a new client, it’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page.

To help prepare you for your next project, here are some tips to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

1. Define the project scope

When discussing project terms with your clients, it’s key that you understand the volume of work they are requesting from you. 

To define the scope, it’s best to identify the following:

  • Design requirements — Has the client provided enough information for you to understand the project clearly?
  • Vision — What are the client’s style preferences?
  • Concepts, revisions and variations How many designs does the client expect to receive?
  • Deliverables — What are the file and/or print specifications for the designs? 

2. Set realistic turnaround times

Once you’ve established the amount of design work required, the next step is to agree to a timeline with your client. The turnaround time should be a realistic reflection of the time it will take you to complete each project milestone. If the client has a specific timeline you feel you can’t commit to or is unachievable based on the scope of the project, you can negotiate a more practical timeline with them, or respectfully decline the job. 

Keep in mind that you can also adjust your rates based on your client’s deadline. For example, request higher fees for quick turnarounds and lower fees for more timely tasks. 

3. Define a payment structure

After finalizing the amount of work and the time needed to complete the project, create a payment structure with your client. Payments are often scheduled to align with completing specific tasks or groups of deliverables.

One common arrangement is for the client to pay 50% of the fee upfront, with the agreement they will pay the remaining 50% once the project is complete.

That method works great for relatively simple projects, but for more complex ones, like a landing page, you may want to break up payment even further:

  • 25% upfront for conceptual work and wireframing
  • 35% for drafts
  • 40% for the finished product

This also makes it less painful for either party to back out, in case the relationship just isn’t working.

Keep in mind that 99designs will hold the payment until it is manually released by the client. This means that payment is transferred to 99designs, and we keep it safe until the client confirms they are satisfied with the deliverables and opts to release the funds.

This process protects both parties; in case either should disappear or break a written agreement, 99designs can help make sure that the funds are transferred to the deserving party.

4. Ask questions

When engaging with new clients, it’s completely normal to have questions about the contents of their brief. Don’t be afraid to request clarification from your client at each stage of the project. This may include asking about their preferred design styles, color palettes and file formats, if not specified in the brief. 

5. Check you have everything you need to start working 

By this stage, you’ll be keen to get started on building your first round of concepts! To avoid any awkwardness later, it’s best to check in with your client and ask if they have sent all of the required files you need to start building your designs, such as logo design files, color codes, copy and any relevant font information. 

And that’s it! You are now ready to begin your project and collaborate with your client. In the unlikely event you have a disagreement with your client that you can’t work out between yourselves, contact our Designer Support team


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