MACARONI JOURNAL – Money is always an awkward subject to talk about, with friends, family and especially when you’re a online freelancer asking for payment, and even more so when you’re new, still learning the ropes.
“Am I worth this much?”, “Am I asking too much?”, “What is an acceptable amount to ask for?”, “What if I scare the client away?” — these are some of the things you might be asking yourself, when starting out or even after years of freelancing. Worrying about how the client will react to my quote hasn’t changed from day one. It’s a natural part of the process.
It all comes down the value, the value you place on what you’re offering and very important, whether the client understands that value or not. Many times the client doesn’t, sees your work as simple to produce. What they most don’t get that the hours can add up even for a simple task, especially in today’s world of different devices, screens sizes and operating systems.
What looks great on Firefox doesn’t work so well on Chrome or vice versa. Mobile devices always present a challenge, what works great on an IOS (iPhone or iPad, for example), doesn’t on an Android powered device.
It’s up to you to communicate your value without getting overly technical about what your work actually involves.
To achieve this, you need to discuss how to quote your clients and how to justify your rates, so that the subject of money is never awkward or embarrassing.
Establishing Expectations During the Initial Consultation
A consultation is much more than a casual email exchange, and it is absolutely necessary. It doesn’t have to be overly formal, but the communication does need to be thorough. I highly recommend offering a breakdown of the costs as opposed to only your fee amount, which ensures that the client is aware of how much time you’re dedicating to the work. You don’t need to explain your workflow in too much detail, but you should be able to discuss what you do in that time to justify your fee.
For example, it’s not exactly unheard of for clients to think that logo design is about throwing some fonts and shapes around for a few minutes. If you don’t (briefly) explain your process, then you can’t blame the client for thinking that way. Clients often don’t understand why things cost what they do and this leads to either the freelancer feeling cheated out of their time, or the client feeling cheated out of their money.
How to Quote Client Costs
So lets talk about quotes, an estimate of how much your services cost that involves a brief overview of what needs to be done, the time it will take, the skills required to do it and the expenses incurred along the way.
The quote can involve, or not, costs of outsourcing part of the work to experts in a particular area or areas, which you then bring in to the overall flow of the project. For example, you can hire a logo expert to provide you a variety of samples, which you can then modify to the tone or even set the tone of the project. Forms, membership apps and so on can all be handled by experts in their respective field, which you hire and can either pass on the cost separately to the client or as part of your overall project cost.
All of these things highlight the value of your specialized set of skills (that the client probably doesn’t have) without coming across as condescending or a complete know-it-all.
But how do you even know how much to charge?
For starters, the minimum is your cost of living, and the maximum is the amount you need to live comfortably. If your quote is less than your minimum required to survive, you need to either add more value to your services, communicate your value better, or realize your value and self-worth.
Never be afraid to ask for what you’re worth, while considering the economic value for the client. Will your work help them generate more conversions, traffic or sales? Understanding your client’s business, needs and expectations is important, as your ultimate worth is this economic value!
Quick tip: never, ever, ever, immediately slash your prices. Unless you’ve grossly overestimated your quote, which means you didn’t your homework in the first place, slashing your price will lead to your client either lose faith in your value.
Clients not understanding your economic value to their project will think you’ve overcharging. Be fair in your quote and stick to the numbers. Don’t settle or you will have a client who will constantly try to reduce your fee — because they know (or think) they can.
A lower fee will naturally result in more clients, but you may end up with more work than you can handle or spreading yourself too thin leading to sloppy or unsatisfactory work.
Quote right. Be Fair. Complete the work as promised with no excuses. If you’ve screwed up in the quote, bite down and bare it. If the your quote was much, much less than for the work entailed (assuming it was an honest misinterpretation of the client needs and not just to get the work), talk to your client, explain the situation, present the new quote, the mistake and back off the project. If your client is reasonable and understands your economic value to his project, you can move forward. If not, best to have cut your losses.
In a project over time, the scope of the work can change and so can the cost – your fee. Tread carefully — it can be a bit of a shock to the client when the fee changes. The client has to be made aware of the changes and what should be considered an “extra”.
If you’re following these guidelines you can significantly reduce the chances of an awkward and embarrassing encounter with your client and the ensuing problems of actually getting paid, the subject of a future article.