Topic: How to Charge a Client

^ Insightful article. What are your thoughts? How do you guys charge for freelance work?

Give me liturgy or give me death.

Re: How to Charge a Client

Interesting stuff, and a good read.

i tend to go on a project basis for most work with the exception of one or two clients i have established relationships with and do bits and pieces of work for (random brochure cover, website updates, etc.). particularly when it comes to web projects, i decided quite a while back that it made no sense for me to bill hourly for something that i can do faster than the next guy and make less money because of it.

I do also, for most clients, get 50% or some percentage up front and the rest on completion. i've been burned too many times to do it any other way.

chris (fig): i'm not random, i'm tangent oriented... :

Re: How to Charge a Client

Thanks, Nathan. That made me think again, darn you. smile I admit, I've always charge hourly and loved it, but every day I get better at estimating how much time a job will take, so the old days of NEEDING to charge hourly for that reason may be dwindling away. I used to think people were paying for my time, but they're paying for my talent and experience as well. All that time (and tons of money on books and other resources) I've spent learning, honing skills, practicing, improving, it's all like he lawyer or doctor who has spent all that at law school or med school. They charge what they do because they've earned it (and they have bills to pay back). I've been debating raising my hourly rate, but I may just need to reconsider quoting per project instead (or in addition to). I'm still thinking.

Re: How to Charge a Client

I've seen that story before, that's a good article.

I deal with it on a project by project basis.  If I can't guesstimate well enough how long it will take I will do it hourly but I'd say 90% of the time I'll do it at a project by project basis.  Also almost everytime I require a 50% downpayment before work is done.  Since I work full-time in Marketing I only do freelance as a minimal part-time deal but I find doing all of the above with a solid contract always makes life easier.

Check out my blog ~

Re: How to Charge a Client

About down payments, I think it's always a good idea to get half before STARTING a job. I once had a guy tell me halfway through that he had suddenly decided to go with someone else. I didn't give him any of my work, but I had already done the work and not been paid. Since then I've consistently asked for that deposit and never lost a client midway. In fact, I don't distribute any final product until the final payment has cleared, which means if they send me a check, it has to clear my bank account before they get their files. I have a lot of paypal clients because of that, which is fine with me because I get paid much sooner. Of course, the rules relax a bunch with existing clients, but deposits are always a good idea to be sure the client is committed to you as much as you are to them. Of course there are those few designers who have taken a deposit and run with it, but none around these parts, right?

Re: How to Charge a Client

I've had pretty good success using 1/3 payments. 1/3 up front, 1/3 on delivery, 1/3 on launch or sometimes 30 days after launch. Of course the post-launch changes have to be within reason and the scope of the project, or else I bill hourly for additional work.

Meh. Everybody's ways sound pretty good. The only one that sucks is no charging until delivery. I find it really hard to get motivated when I don't have some initial investment from the client.

Re: How to Charge a Client

So far most of the commenters seem to be more of a designer than a programmer.  Anyone have any comments from the software developer side?

My experience has been that scope creep kills programming projects (including web-based software) and that hourly is the only way to not get burned.

Re: How to Charge a Client

I'd definitely consider myself more programmer over a designer any day. The thing for me to not get burn with scope creep is to nail down the scope of the project as best I can early, and to inform them when something they've requested is moving beyond the scope of the project. Anything that is, and they still want to do, is by the hour.

Last edited by ajp (2006-08-27 19:12:50)

Re: How to Charge a Client

i'm trying to get started and i'm more of a programmer as well.  scope creep happens, and i think it always will, we just have to communicate to the customer what we're going to "go do" of course this assumes you have done all the work up front to nail down what they want first.

this topic is great because i'm just trying to get off the ground and start my own business, currently i'm just a wage slave wink

advice from an older Christian i know who has run his own successful business:
"charge what the market will bear"
"don't work by the hour, you won't get ahead"

i'm sure i'll still do hourly work, but i think i read someone post before that we are paid for more than just our time, we're paid for our knowledge.  remember if a client says, "you charge too much, its easy to do" just walk away and let them do it if it is so easy wink

Stop voting for ANY evil, lesser evils are just that!

Re: How to Charge a Client

One of the best books out there for getting a grip on the business side of design is Ed Gold's "The Business of Graphic Design". … 25?ie=UTF8

Re: How to Charge a Client

I freelance full-time, and have had to arrive at works for me over the years.

Small, personal-type projects are by the HTML page. I charge $50 per page, and all incidental graphics are included. Logos and complex graphics are $100. Custom scripts are case-by-case.

Medium-sized projects cost a bit more, and require more pricing flexibility. Obviously, a customized blog template or small php/mysql site can't be charged by the page. I generally give a template price and full project price.

I charge hourly for large projects. I have two significant projects requiring design, code, and programming at this time...both are going to take 6 months minimum to launch, and are billed monthly at $100/hour. For hourly work I give a rough estimate in proposal form, and agree with the client that the final price may be completely unrelated to the proposal's total.

I charge $70 - $100 per hour for consulting.

I've entered into a few small ventures where I'm comfortable with both the people involved and the potential success of the project to share revenue in lieu of sending an invoice. This is a rare occurrence, and shouldn't be undertaken as a means of making a's for 'gravy' only. One site will be for selling a DVD, and won't take much time to complete. I'll get 15% of the total revenue, which seems fair-to-generous. I like the people involved, and trust them to treat me fairly and honestly.

I usually ask for 1/3 down on a project. If it's a small project (less than $1,000) I often ask for 1/2. If it's an hourly project, I've generally asked for the equivalent of one month's expenditure up front.

A number of clients need someone to help them maintain their websites, and to be 'on call' for technical questions. I've entered into several monthly agreements where clients pay a flat retainer based on how much work they need done (on average). This runs from $200/mo to $500/mo, for the most part.

I've been blessed by God to have a thriving business, and I try to treat it as both a business and as a ministry. For this reason I often undertake a project at below market value as a service to those involved. I realize that many, if not most, freelancers don't have the freedom that I enjoy to do what they want, when they please don't use my approach as a template for your own business. I also have the benefit of experience in a broad range of web-related areas, from design to code to SEO to pay-per-click and banner advertising, etc. I usually end up being as much of a full-service consultant to my clients rather than filling one role. Because I have a reseller hosting account, I'm often my client's ONLY technical help.

When you advise someone on their marketing strategy, build their site, host it, and answer their questions about Outlook and Microsoft Word and business cards and affiliate marketing agreements, you usually end up being friends with those involved as well. As I said, I've been blessed...I've never made a website for a complete stranger. 100% of my work in the past three years has been referred by a client or friend. Because of this, and because I work primarily with churches and non-profits, I don't even have a contract for them to sign. I realize that that's dangerous, but I have no intention of changing it. I'm investing myself in the lives and ministries and businesses of my clients, and (so far) they've treated me accordingly.

For those hoping to go full-time, I'd say two things:

1. Timing is everything. This is my second attempt at it, as my first failed utterly.
2. I can't express how incredibly awesome it is to not have a job. smile

We're all looking forward to the future...but none of us more than the giant, evil robots.

Re: How to Charge a Client

excellent post, generalhavok. Thanks!