Freelancing Tips: How to Charge & Bill Clients

This guide is for those new to freelancing and are thinking of becoming a freelancer in the creative industry or as developer.

Maybe you’ve been employed all these years and want to work for yourself or you’re a student fresh out of university, struggling to find a job in the industry but want to create your own job. The only issues is that you don’t know the process for calculating and charging the work you’ve done for clients or the documents needed. Here I will go through each stage of the process:

State Your Freelancing Rates

Before a client accepts you for their project, they will usually ask you for the rate you charge. Therefore, it’s a good idea to set a standard rate for yourself. Although the rate itself can vary depending on the client and what you think they can afford, it’s good to set an average rate.

Your rate can be charged by the day, which is usually defined as 8 hours worked. An example of this is £100.00 per each day worked. You can instead charge an hourly rate, so for example $20.00 per each hour you have worked. You can also arrange with the client a set-fee for a project, so £5000 in total to get a project done, regardless of how long it will take to work on it.

Deciding on how much your rate should be depends on a variety of variables: how skilled you are at the job, your experience, your location, ability to persuade etc. A good idea is to speak to other freelancers similar to you in your industry and see how much they charge. This is can be done through networking in person, researching online or talking directly to online freelancing communities in your industry.

Provide a Quote or Rough Estimate

This can be hard if you’ve not had that many project done by yourself, but it becomes easier to judge the more projects you do. If you do have a rough idea how long a project will take, then quote an average. Say for example, that it could take around 6 to 8 days to get a project done, but state that this number is not set in stone.

It’s a good idea to ask what the client’s budget is or to agreed upon one, just in-case you end up working more days than anticipated. This can also help prevent you spending more of your time on a project then the client is willing to pay. An estimate for a quote can be worked out like this:

Around 6 – 8 days to get design project done at a rate of £100.00 per day. This mean you can quote the project at around £600 – £800 to get the project done. You might also arrange a budget of specifically £1000 just incase the project take an extra day or two to complete.

Write & Sign A Contract

One important practice, especially with larger projects, is to write up a contract with at least the scope of work and the pay agreed on. Terms and conditions can also be added for both clarity between you and the client and also for legal security. Avoid clients who refuse or try to steer you away from using a contract. A contract is there for the protection of both you and the client.

The writing on a contract varies from project to project and the type of industry you’re in, but searching online you can find some templates to tweak. Services like hellosign.com can be used to give an electronic signature, which cuts out all the fiddling around with paper, printers and scanners. So both time-saving and good for the environment!

If you are not clear and lay down what the project specifically requires, then later on the in project the client can easily sneak in extra tasks, that will lead you to doing more work then you initially agreed upon. However, in say that, projects that are really short may not be worthwhile writing a contract for, but be careful and make sure you’re working with someone you can trust.

Time Yourself

While working on the project, tracking the amount of hours you work with a timer is good practice. Roughly judging the time you worked by memory is not so accurate due to your subjective experience of time. There’s also the possibility of you forgetting how much time you’ve spent.

One solution is to use a simple stopwatch or on-computer timer and log the hours you worked either on a digital document or on paper. Below is a template I use to log the work I done, by logging which client, the date worked, a short description of the work undertaken, the duration of time I worked and if I have invoiced for this work:

freelancing

There are also online accountancy webtools such as freshbooks.com that times your hours, logges them onto a calander and can also issue invoices to clients once the work is done.

Invoicing

Once the work has been done and both you and the client have agreed that the project is complete, you can then issue an invoice. Invoices are simple to construct, but I’ve provide a template below to show the information needed:

freelancing

Payment details depend on method you use. Typically in the UK, the best way to get paid is via a BACS transfer, which requires both a sort-code and account number. International bank transfers require at least the IBAN number and Swift/Bin code. Other payment methods include Paypal, which just requires an email registered to the service.

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So I hope this has been useful to you and will make you a lot more organised and confident with dealing with clients and managing projects.