First freelance design project

Hi all. I’ve got some questions regarding freelancin - the experienced people on Core may help to answer.

I was recently contacted regarding a freelance project for a small company. The guy who runs the company found my Corefolio and wanted to see if I’d be interested, so I met up with him, signed an NDA and he gave me a small freelance exercise to prove my ability.

He said that the exercise work would be paid, so through emails he let me know that he would match my existing hourly rate (I’m currently employed as a contractor) and if the work was good then he would talk about giving additional work and increasing the rates.

Anyway, I replied saying this is all fine, and I look forward to providing him with some quality work. I made a quick point at the end of an email saying that it is common practice in freelancing for payment to be made before disclosure of any design work and hand over of IP. Essentially I didn’t want to get ripped off by working without getting paid.

He has since replied saying that his company have invested heavily in the IP of their products and he doesn’t want to put it at risk, so could I please NOT proceed any further and destroy any files he’s sent me regarding the project.

Either there’s a big misunderstanding here and he thinks I’m going to publicize the IP on his products, OR having asked him to pay me before I show him my work, he’s trying to scam me and get me to work for free.

Very confused by the whole thing, so if anyone has any experience of dealing with clients who are paranoid about IP, or have tried to get work done for nothing, please let me know.


I have a feeling that there has been some confusion regarding contractual matters and the client thinks that you are going to withhold IP in lieu of payment.

I would suggest that depending on the size of contract, you should have asked for a percentage of the fee upfront ie 50% for a value of say £/$ 1,000 of the total contract value - and the rest on completion of the work… and this percentage decreases on the increasing fee… ie£/$ 2,000 might be 30% upfront and the rest in instalments or 70% on completion etc… if you have a contract you can’t hold on to the work, but provide an invoice at the same time saying to be paid within 30 days etc on the date of the invoice.

Maybe you can (and should) get back to him and explain this…this happened to my girlfriend recently when a client didn’t understand the terms and backed out until she explained what she meant… hope this helps…

Director @ iD34

could be a mix-up or a scam. asking for an exercise up front without payment is a bit of a red flag.

to try to clear it, you can tell him that any IP that he owns will never be put at risk. he own’s that and it’s not something you control. then explain the IP you are referring to is the design that you create. that is under your control (but still subject to any IP he own’s) and that is what would be withheld on non-payment.

has he paid you yet for the exercise? did you do it and hand over the result?

yes, for any work in the future, you should get a deposit up front and also have a contract that explains the terms clearly (payment terms, IP terms, legal, termination, deliverables, rates, etc.).