When A Freelancer Should Bill The Client

A lot of people these days who are freelancers also have blogs that contain helpful articles. It is not uncommon that a freelancer might end up talking to readers via email or some other medium about solving some issue about a blog.

The problem is that some of this is taken for granted. Of course, there are cases where previous clients ask about a bug from a design that came up, but for new clients, what is acceptable to be considered a freebie? Should a freelancer spend their time solving a site issue for free if it was not their coding or design error, even if the client is new?


Here are my thoughts.

If a person wants you to help them fix their site to fix another designer or developer’s code, you probably should be charging them for your time, even if you might be a new freelancer with a minimum hourly flat rate wage. If people truly need their site fixed right, they will pay for it. It is ridiculous to ask you to do something for free because you might never hear back from them again.

It is not an act of faith to do something for another person with hope they may ask you to design for them a whole site later on. As much as you might like to think everyone is good, you cannot be that way. Regardless of how long you have been freelancing, you risk not getting the job when you do these extra freebies.

If you are still not paying your bills, you really have no business offering services for free.

I have talked to a lot of freelancers who have said that they are struggling. However, when I ask them how they conduct business, they offer a lot of extra freebies.

The problem is that living is not cheap. If you have a child, or have a few children, or are married, you have to think logically. You need to pay the bills. The only time you can be frivolous with your time is when you are making enough money to feed yourself, pay your bills, and put a little money in the bank to save for later use.

When Should You Charge:

  1. When you physically have to drive to a consultation. (Gas and time.)
  2. If you are providing phone support outside a web design contract. If so, you need to make sure the caller is aware that they will be billed.
  3. If you are fixing another’s code.
  4. When you are asked to do extra services outside the original contract.

Some people are quick to point out that giving freebies to a regular client is great, but it is not. A lot of times, that client will ask a little bit more each time. It is about protecting yourself in the end.

If you have been a freelancer for many years, what other suggestions do you have for other freelancers who are needing advice on what you should charge?

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