Many freelancers are afraid or embarrassed to ask their clients for additional payments. As a freelancer, your time is money. You must get paid for additional tasks or more hours of work that the client asks you to do. What situations warrant extra payment? How are you going to tell your client that he needs to pay you more? These tips will teach you how to charge freelance clients what you feel your time is worth.
If you don’t charge your clients for meetings, they will take advantage of you. When you attend a meeting, it takes away your time for work. I had a client who asked for three hours of meetings a day, sometimes a one-on-one meeting with him, other times with the team. Every day we would do this, and I realized that it took away my chances to earn more.
I went back and revised the contract. I explained that it was fair for me to ask for payment since it takes away from the time I’d spend with other clients. He agreed to my demand and we continued working together.
It is okay if your client loves having meetings. Just make sure you charge him for the time you spend attending those meetings.
2. Rush Work
Some clients set artificial timelines and expect you to pull a rabbit out of a hat right away. They want you to finish a mountain of paperwork in two days. If this demand means that you need to delay finishing your other freelance work, let them know that you don’t feel comfortable meeting the deadline.
If your client wants you to finish his project first over other tasks, you need to charge him for it. If you don’t, he is going to give you more rush work, which is going to force you to re-prioritize and mess up your daily routine. Never say, “Hey, you know what, this is a little bit faster than I feel comfortable. I’m going to have to shove a lot of things around. I’m going to charge you an extra hundred dollars to do this.” That causes a rift between you and the client.
Put rush work as one of the conditions when the client needs to pay you more. Be specific how much extra you charge for rush work. If you charge $130 originally, make the rushed price $150, or 10% to 15% more for an hourly contract.
Even with the advancement of technology, research still takes time. You cannot Google everything, especially if the project requires a high level of creativity and extensive planning. If your work is to do website design and your client asks you to present three models, researching for the proposals can be time-consuming. You might also need to collaborate with other people in your group to create better plans, which will also eat a lot of your time.
If you’re not comfortable charging freelance clients for research, at least put this in the agreement. If you do, you can always justify why you need to get paid for doing it.
Doing revisions is a hassle because there seems to be an endless amount of corrections needed, especially if you do designs. Some clients take advantage of it by asking you to revise your work as many times as he pleases.
To avoid this, make sure that your agreement specifies how many free revisions you can do per project. For instance, after giving your first draft of the website design based on the client’s specifications, you can provide three revisions for the price of the project, then every other change will cost X amount of money. If you aren’t charging freelance clients for extra revisions, they can go on and on until your creative juices run dry and you get fed-up.
5. Scope Creep
Scope creep is a term that refers to items that are outside the typical agreement. Let’s stick with the example of web design. After designing a website and publishing it, your client asks you to do some On-page SEO work. As a website designer, you know that SEO is not under your scope of work because it’s a different skill set. It’s like asking a plumber to do some carpentry work.
But many web designers take the plunge because there are some tools, good or not, that can do On-page SEO in a breeze. If a client asks you to do SEO, which is not a part of the agreement, it’s called scope creep. You should absolutely charge a client for this.
6. Software and tools
I’m a marketer, and I use a lot of tools that automate specific tasks. Some tools are free like these SEO tools offered by Moz. If you are working with paid tools though, there is an opportunity to charge your client for the subscription fee.
For example, I have an SEO tool that I subscribe to for $100 a month. This software is automated, meaning it only takes one hour for six hours’ worth of manual work. If you are under an hourly contract, you will be getting less money for using this tool.
So, why not pass it on to your client? You can say, “I have this SEO tool that I pay monthly for. Instead of charging you for six hours of work, I would only need to charge you one but I will need to pass off the cost of the tool to you.” They’ll agree to that because it saves them money.
Many freelancers don’t tell their clients that they are using tools, and they will just charge per hour of work. If you want to do that, that’s your prerogative but my advice is for you to be honest with your clients. Consider what tools you use to save your clients money and be sure to charge them for that.
7. Late Payments
If your client has a bad habit of paying you late and you’re not complaining, they will always do that to you. What I do in this scenario is to send a friendly letter to my client. I will tell him that I need to get paid on time and as per the agreement. I will charge a late payment of X amount.
Your client can give you 100 alibies why their payment is overdue. No matter what his reason is, you don’t deserve getting your salary late. If worse comes to worst, you can take the case to court. There, you can ask to recover late payments from them.
8. Canceled Appointments
As a freelancer, you don’t want to miss any money-making opportunity. In my case, my clients will schedule an appointment days before our meeting. If you schedule an appointment with me, whether it’s a half an hour or an hour, I am setting aside my time for other clients. If you cancel your appointment with little or no notice, I will charge you for that.
Why? If I prioritized you over other clients and you canceled our meeting, I missed the time and money working for other clients. The only way to recover the lost opportunity is to charge you. Make sure that your client understands this part of your agreement.
9. Processing Fees
Some freelancers outside the US like to charge processing fees. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. If you’re asking for processing fees for a credit card or wire transaction, have the courtesy to shoulder half of it. Your client will appreciate you more for doing it.
Over time, you will become comfortable billing clients more for the extra time you spend. If you are new to freelancing and would like further assistance, check out this article about the best ways to get freelance work online.
If you want to become a productive freelancer, you need to make sure that you’re getting paid for all the time that you are working. Use the tips above to your advantage, to make more money and justify your fees. Charging freelance clients for the actual time you commit is not something to be intimidated by. Most, if not all, of your clients, will understand and appreciate your honesty and dedication.