There are two ways that a freelance design job can be priced, either a total cost, or an hourly rate. The hourly rate approach is not generally favored as clearly the client wants the job done in the smallest amount of time, naturally to cut costs. Also from the freelancers point of view the total value of the job is left unclear. There are positives and negatives for each method.
A total job costing is great if it results in being fair for both parties involved once the job is completed. These can be great for cash-flow, as well as when planning other work to complete alongside the ‘hours’ already ‘booked’. There is also the added bonus of making more money on a job if it does not take you as long as you expected.
On the downside, design can be subject to a lot of change and rethinking even if brand, target market, colour ideas etc. are already known. Freelance Designers can be stuck with jobs that are taking a lot longer than the cost really allows, then being left with the dreadful choice of either being paid less than the job deserves, or worse, not at all.
Alternatively you can bill the client on an hourly rate. This can be invoiced as a retainer during the work. This is often based upon a number of hours per week the project is expected to take. Any additional hours or half hours can be added to this via individual invoice. By invoicing extra work in smaller chunks this is much better for your cash-flow as well as for the client as they have no nasty large bill at the end.
By billing in half hours as well as hourly keeps the timing accurate and clients really appreciate this. It encourages them to work efficiently on a project but not rush it, which is ideal for good creative input on both sides as well as ensuring a result that both parties are really pleased with. Ensure you keep good time records, so a clear picture can be built.
Clients are often quicker to sign off copy and images, as well as not revising copy as much as if the price was ‘set’ This has the added bonus of making the work more straightforward as well as knowing you are always being paid for the hours put in.
Although this method of working is criticised in the Freelance world, there is a lot to be said for being paid hourly for design jobs. Clients are happy paying a fair price for the time effort and work they receive. I would argue that both parties can work much better, especially if to complete a job well, it needs to take longer than anticipated.
Think about how this pricing structure could affect the way that you work. If you think that introducing hourly rates would be good for you, try it. There is some great time sheet software online that can help you, it could really improve the way you work alongside clients and the way you approach your work.