I was involved in a friend's project. It was before the coronavirus started spreading outside of china.
At the beginning, I spent few weeks getting started with his project, and then doing the project for an week or two, based on some incomplete designs(he is a good designer though). Then I went off the grid for some fresh air which I really needed, telling him to complete the designs. I came back few weeks later and coronavirus was starting to spread the USA(sorry, who knew it would turn into today's situation).
He told me to pause the development since they can't run their business at all because of the coronavirus. Understandable but I had no job then as a freelance developer and finance it broken badly. I started digging around hard in marketplaces like upwork. I did get some projects, helping myself barely surviving.
I focused back on my skills, and things that'll create a good path for me.
Then states in the USA suddenly decided to re-open and my friend told me to resume the project. He didn't even care about the unfinished designs, telling me to use my design instincts.
I said Okay.
I started working, trying to get the job done as fast as possible. At the same time looking for freelance jobs. It is a project that I know I can't finish in less than 3/4 months. While unsure when he'll pay.
Even though we're decades old friend, due to recent opinion based complications and being too nice to each other, i couldn't ask him about payment amount or when.
I'm halfway through frontend and he decided to redesign since the previous designs was not just incomplete but also badly done.
But dude, I spent close to one month already on the frontend (even though not full time).
Helplessly, I focused on the backend and it's API. Working for more than a month and half, full time till today. I'm currently working on it. No other projects and my finance is broken terribly.
I can barely get food. He deep inside knows that, but not consciously. I couldn't even tell because it's embarrassing and can hurt negatively.
He did ask me about sending money once, when I losely mentioned about my situation, but since the project's stage was so early and incomplete, I knew he wouldn't pay me a considerable amount. Still I told him he can send it but he never did. Probably forgot.
I'll be releasing the alpha version of the API and backend next week. So Today I mentioned this again. I know (and I knew) I'll not get paid enough. Maybe far less than thousand dollars. I should've thought all these before.
Actively or passively I spend more than 4 months on this project. Only 2 months of work I can ship. Rest was a waste for me.
My advice would be to speak casually and frankly when you make a deal with someone you know. Make even a contract or don't do the project at all. It won't hurt as much as asking later, getting paid less while in a bad shape. It's not bad asking and I made a mistake.
I'll update the post next week.