Milestones are a way to divide your fixed-price job into a series of deliverables based on your needs. They let you break a larger contract into more manageable chunks.
You and your freelancer should discuss and agree upon all milestone amounts, deliverables, and deadlines prior to beginning work. You can discuss all potential milestones during the interview phase or you can create additional milestones as the contract progresses.
Over the course of the contract, your freelancer will submit milestones for review and the funds in escrow will be released upon your approval. Failing to respond to a milestone submission within 14 days is deemed approval and the escrowed funds will be automatically released to your freelancer. Therefore, it is important to mark Request Changes on the contract in Upwork if you would like your freelancer to edit their submitted work. You will also have the option to release a different amount of money (less or more) for a given milestone. If you and your freelancer decide to end a fixed-price contract without releasing the remaining funds held in escrow, you can request an escrow refund.
Setting Milestone Expectations
Best Practice: For each milestone, you’ll detail exactly what your freelancer agreed to provide in return for the funds you will deposit in escrow. This way, you and your freelancer know what deliverables are expected, the deadline for deliverables, and how much you will pay for them. Be as specific as you can. This is your chance to formalize the agreement between you and your freelancer about what is to be delivered, when, and for how much money. For advice on structuring milestones, check out the below video and this article in our Hiring Headquarters.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may only fund one milestone at a time. Funds must be released on the current milestone before the next one can be activated and funded. You can choose to release a partial payment, any remaining funds can be used to fund the next milestone, or you can request an escrow refund for the remaining amount.
When a freelancer submits work for a milestone, you have the option to request changes if the work does not meet the requirements set out in the milestone. If you end a fixed-price contract and there are funds still in escrow, you can request a refund.
The freelancer will then have seven days to respond to the refund request. If they approve the refund or fail to respond within the seven days, the money in escrow will be returned to you. The freelancer can also dispute the refund if they feel a refund is not warranted. If this happens, the Upwork dispute resolution team will work with you to try to resolve the matter.
Payments to escrow will be returned to you if the contract offer is withdrawn or not accepted. You can check the status by going to Reports > Transactions.
The due date of a milestone cannot be changed. However, you and your freelancer can agree to change the due date. Upwork does not impose any negative consequences for working beyond a milestone due date.