Basic Guide (Tips and Tools) To Charging Your Freelance Clients
Editor’s note: This article is contributed by Stelian Subotin. Stelian is an enthusiast and design fan who is working on his new design-related blog called Rocket Graphics.
What is the best part about being a freelancer and actually working? Getting paid of course. Money will not buy you happiness but they sure will bring a smile or at least some satisfaction. In this article we will be talking about financing for freelancers, how to price your services and how to properly manage your money.
While enjoying money is a nice feeling, many times this process is not that smooth and some are even having a hard time with it. We will be discussing several problems that many freelancers face, such as: not getting paid on time, dilemmas on whether to charge per hour or project, ways of getting paid and more.
Recommended Reading: 10 Tips To Invoice Your Freelance Clients Professionally
Settle on a Pricing System: Hour vs Project
There have been several debates and discussion on which system works better for freelancers, hourly or by project. The answer as you can probably guess is neither. There isn’t and there will never be one answer about why you should only charge per hour or only per project because every work/project has got its own "personality" and details you need to take into account before deciding how to charge.
Charging per Hour
Some designers simply follow their own principles and only charge per hour no matter the type of project they are working on. They have found their perfect hourly rate and only rate by it, turning down any project that doesn’t comply with it.
It may seem logical to do so, but this kind of charging has a few Pros and Cons:
- It is straight-forward, no messing around with estimations for various projects.
- Making your client rate public will help you save some time, clients who contact you have basically agreed to your asking price.
- You can calculate the rate that fits you best, so that you will properly utilize each working hour.
- Clients who have no idea how long it takes to work on their project may not approach you.
- There is a slight chance that you are over-pricing or under-pricing your services this way.
- Clients with smaller projects may think that your rate is too high for them
Charging per Project
The other side of the card, is charging per project. If you are not satisfied with the "pay per hour" system then you definitely have to consider this one. Here are the Pros and Cons of this method:
- You can tell exactly what is the amount you would like to get paid for doing the specific job.
- It will be easier to get "small leads" because high hourly rates usually frighten clients with smaller projects in their hands
- A wrong estimation will make you work more, because often times the agreed rate can’t be changed.
- There is no constant pricing when it comes to projects, which might be considered as a scam by some clients.
Dealing with Pricing Issues
There are several issues freelancers are dealing with constantly. Here are just a few of them.
Getting Paid Late
One of the most common issues is getting your clients to pay you on time. Of course we mustn’t generalise and say that all clients don’t pay on time, but freelancers will more than once have to send reminders to their clients to clear their invoices.
Settle on a Contract
The best way to avoid clients delaying payments is by settling on a proper contract. There are several reasons for doing that. After signing the contract, both of you will have legal obligations, and as long as you do your job correctly and follow the contract terms, you will be fine. You’ll be protected by law against clients that don’t pay their bills on time.
It’s also common to set a late-payment fee which requires your clients to pay more if they made you wait for their payment. It’s a sign of a partial neglect of the contract.
Recommended Reading: 8 Contract Clauses You Should Never Freelance Without
Another important factor is the communication between clients and freelancers. As you might have heard, communication is the key, and that’s true! It’s always okay to send friendly reminders and updates to your clients and asking them politely to pay their invoices.
You shouldn’t think of the worst, and you never know how easily someone can forget something in the midst of a busy schedule. The delay may not be intentional so don’t treat it like it is.
One very good thing about invoices, no matter the service you are using is that most of them allow you to send a "friendly" reminder to your client that it is time to clear payments. That’s very simple to do and only takes the click of a button.
Freelancing can be considered a business, and you have to take much care of the way you handle your taxes. Just in case you are new to freelancing, know that the way you handle your taxes as a freelancer is different from when you are pulling paychecks. There are different forms and documents to file and you will need to have good bookkeeping skills or get a freelance accountant to advice you accordingly.
Tools & Services
There are actually several very useful tools out there which will definitely make your life easier. Considering how many things are involved in dealing with a project, tools like time trackers and automatic invoice services are definitely lifesavers.
Probably one of the most popular online services for invoicing is FreshBooks. They have a very flexible pricing system and a 30-day free trial for their service. You can also track your work with their iOS app for iPhone and iPad and when in trouble, contact their great support team via email and phone assist. Paid packages range between $19.95 to $39.95. So far the system boasts 5 million users already.
Less Accounting is a very good web application that promises to save about 80% of your time. They have an easy-to-use accounting software which is supposed to help you with your bookkeeping, no matter your level of expertise in this domain. The UI is also real easy to use no matter how much of a novice you are. Plus, they have a pretty good sense of humor about things.
Here’s a free alternative to FreshBooks that works to track your time online. It offers a few invoicing and reports features but no support for mobile apps, although you can still run it on browser view from your smartphone.
Money management is a tough job particularly when crunching numbers isn’t exactly your thing. But you can always fall back on these tools to help make things easier. When worse comes to worst, just hire an expert number-cruncher to help you manage your earnings for a fee.
Which do you prefer? Tell us.
This post is published by a Hongkiat.com staff (editors, interns, sometimes Hongkiat Lim himself) or a guest contributor.