Robert Haas on 4 Feb 2008 18:56:09 -0800

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Re: question for all you freelancers

  • From: "Robert Haas" <>
  • To:
  • Subject: Re: question for all you freelancers
  • Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2008 21:55:54 -0500
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  • Sender:

The problem with hourly billing is that there is little incentive for
you to try to get finished more quickly or to do the best job
possible.  You essentially get penalized for being good at your job by
being able to bill fewer hours.  But I think it's still the lesser of
two evils.  Whether you set a fixed price or not, you will inevitably
get pummeled with change orders; you might as well get paid for them.
Part of the issue here too is what the client can afford to pay and
how badly you need the work.  If you're in a position where some money
is better than no money, then you kind of have to take what you can
get.  If you have more than enough work to keep you busy, then you
have more options.

But I think the most important part is - whatever you say, and however
you decide to approach the issue, don't get emotional or defensive
about it.  Call the person on the phone and explain to them that
you're very sorry to hear that they're upset about the cost.  Tell
them that you're surprised to hear that because you always make an
effort to treat your clients fairly.  Explain that you've spent about
X hours on this project, Y of which were for communication and Z of
which were for coding, and you think that even if this other
development shop had been faster than you are, most likely it would
have come out to be more money for them in the end.  Tell them that
you'd like to work with them again in the future and you'll make every
effort to keep the cost down, but you understand if they want to try
someone else instead.  In other words, just politely explain that you
did them a favor (because you did), and you're sorry that they don't
see things that way (because you are).  As the previous poster said,
keeping a log of hours and making sure that information stays in front
of the customer throughout the project is also a good idea.

Anyway, 40 hours of coding, 23 phone calls, and 221 emails for $2600
is a great deal, assuming that your code is good and so on.  I'll take
that deal any day.

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