I recently read a post from a fellow freelancer who had just learned a valuable if not painful lesson about freelancing. She had secured a client and the job seemed straightforward enough so she didn’t press into the details too much. It also happened that there wasn’t a written agreement in place addressing things that could arise during the course of the project.
I think most of us can tell where this is heading…
That’s right. The client turned out to be a royally demanding, non-communicative beast whose vision of the project was pretty darned unreasonable for the fee charged. After several rewrites and revisions, the freelancer lamented about the plunging of her hourly rate.
Anyone who hasn’t been there, please raise your hand.
No hands? That’s what I thought.
Whenever we are looking at a project, it’s crucial that we keep in mind anything that can go wrong. Contingencies are a necessary part of the quoting process and they are critical to any contract paperwork we use with our clients.
The reason we put contingencies in place is two-fold. We want to protect our hourly rate from scoundrel clients and we want to send a clear message to our clients about exactly what they are receiving for the fee (and more importantly, what they are not receiving).
When you are deciding what to quote for a project you need to determine what is fair and reasonable based on fair and reasonable conditions. So, you may include a single revision as part of your price, with requests over and above that subject to an over and above fee. Now is not the time to be timid or shy. It’s not the time to be a nice person. If you don’t include these fee structures as part of your contract then at some point an unscrupulous or just plain demanding client is going to suck the lifeblood out of you and leave you disenchanted to say the least.
There have been times in my freelance writing career that I’ve strayed from charging the client what I had a legitimate right to charge for. In these cases, the client has been very easy to work with and I’ve felt their request was reasonable and that it would not break my bank to do the work. I’ll also say that in these instances I am not shy about asking for some type of testimonial. Most clients are happy to oblige.
As an independent contractor, you need to know what your minimum hourly rate is. When determining this rate you need to factor in all kinds of things such as taxes, overhead, profit, marketing and all of those other business savvy things that help keep you afloat. If you get stung too many times with dismal hourly rates, you will soon reach the point where your business is no longer viable.
Take the time right now to review your standard contract and make certain you have built in the necessary contingencies that will protect your hourly rate.