Daniel Lemire's blog

, 4 min read

Potentially bogus freelancing advice

5 thoughts on “Potentially bogus freelancing advice”

  1. Oshi says:

    You have there a freudian slip – ‘A flat free’ 😉

  2. tonnydourado says:

    What if I’m not very sure how long it will take and how hard it will be for me to implement it? Charging a flat fee might make me work more and harder and receive way less, because I underestimate the complexity. Or because some requisites changed, and modifications were needed. Specially for someone without a lot of experience (like me) it’s way more likely to spend five days solving a 5 minutes problem than the other way around, just because it might be something I’ve never done before.

  3. @tonnydourado

    Of course, nobody knows how long things take… neither the client nor you… but as a businessman, you need to shoulder some of the risk.

    For speculative work, there are ways to share the uncertainty with the client. For example, you can agree to do an initial survey for a flat fee.

    But, it is undeniable that working for flat fees has risks… Early in your career, that probably means working at low hourly rates because simple things take you a long time… However, as you get better, you get to charge a lot for something that only takes you a few hours.

    The client pays the “market price” for the service. If you are better than average, you earn more per hour than average… if you are bad, you earn much less than average. Your compensation depends on how skilled you are. That is how you want things to be… so you have strong incentives to get better.

    Sure, the client can change the project or extend it… each time the client does that, you can renegotiate if you feel that it adds to your work. In fact, as a freelancer, you want projects to evolve, grow, change… you get to charge more and more. If a client keeps pulling the rug from under you and refuses to compensate you, then it is probably a bad client and you should find other clients. It is sad, but there are many bad clients. Dealing with them is part of the game.

  4. You forgot the most important part: charge more 🙂

  5. RLa says:

    Instead of getting paid hourly, you could get paid daily as well (a “day” could be ~8 hours on average for a client and you are not working for another client on the same day). Flat fee somewhat works for small projects (< 1 month). Then on average you can do well even if you misjudge some projects (but keep some buffer fund for those times).