Freelance fees guide: 8 extra fees to invoice your clients
When you joined freelancing, you didn’t sign up for free work or a pay-at-your-convenience deal. And yet, you often find yourself doing extra work or in other awkward situations, but hesitate to speak up. Perhaps you’ve even been offering free services without realizing it. Or you don’t pay enough attention to extra freelance charges that come along the way. Unfortunately, indirect loss of income is so common that it should be listed among the top things freelancers should pay attention. So in this freelance fees guide, we’ve decided to explore 8 instances that call for an extra fee and a clear mention in your freelance contract.
Every freelancer has to undertake a rush project from time to time. Whether it’s a long-term client or a new one, set some ground rules (first and foremost to yourself) as to what qualifies as a rush project and what extra fees will apply. There are no set-in-stone rules, but anything that puts a strain on you or disrupts your schedule should fall into that category.
Will you have to work over the weekend? Is the deadline disproportionate to the length of the project and will get you working long hours? Will you have to push another deadline to accommodate this urgent request? If anything of the above occurs and is something that you wouldn’t normally do, then point out that speeding up the working process will cost more. Your clients need to realise that extra freelance charges such as rush fees are important and should be taken into account in the final invoice.
Late payment fee
Late payment fees couldn’t be missing from our freelance fees guide. Punctuality is a two-way street in freelancing and a key component of a mutually respectful working relationship. Much like the client expects you to deliver the project on time, you expect to be paid on time. Your hard work and punctuality should be rewarded. Bills won’t stop coming in, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to pay them if you’ve done your part to make an income.
Unless freelancing is a hobby to you (which is not), don’t let clients go away with late payment. Make clear that when you don’t receive timely payment, a late payment fee will apply as a form of penalty. However, you could make an exception under special circumstances, like a personal emergency or for long-standing, reliable clients.
This fee applies mostly to freelance writers who are required to do research to find reliable resources before moving on to the writing part. Now, some projects may be within your reach and spectrum of knowledge, but some may not. The less you know about a topic, the more time research will take. If you work with an hourly rate, you’re good. You will be paid for hours worked either way. But be careful with flat-rate projects. Your best option is to set your rate taking into account that this project will take longer than usual to complete.
Naturally, to start working on a project, you meet with your client to introduce you to the project and give you some guidelines. Later in the project, you might meet it again to discuss in more detail the specifics. Whether you do it over the phone or in person, don’t discount these meetings as friendly chit chats.
Meetings do take up a lot of your time (out of both your leisure time and workday), they are actual work and, as such, you should charge for them. Let your clients know that an hourly or flat fee applies for all meetings, whether introductory or mid-project. If your client tends to drag on the meetings, it’s wisest to set an hourly fee. What’s more, a meeting fee will protect you from “meeting junkies” and limit the number of unnecessary meetings.
Fee for revisions
There’s usually some back and forth in projects — in some more than others. Like in creative projects, such as graphic design or content writing, where the quality standards are not strictly objective. The client might ask for several revisions before they are completely satisfied with the result.
However, revision rounds are tricky and often a cause for misunderstandings and other hard feelings between clients and freelancers. Be upfront with your client from the start and explain that these supplementary or extra hours of work should be translated into extra monetary compensation. Set the number of revisions that are acceptable to you, and make clear how much each round of revision will cost. Most clients expect you to do one revision for free, so it’s best to incorporate that in your freelance rate.
Fee for project-specific tools
Normally, you don’t charge extra for tools that are necessary for your work processes. Or for tools that you choose to use for all your projects. But there will always be some exceptions when you need tools that your client asks for or are essential to the completion of a specific project. Most online tools don’t come entirely free of charge unless you don’t want to use all the features. Even if you pay a small amount per month, it adds up as time passes by, so don’t ignore it.
Although no fee can compensate for the stress of losing an income, a cancellation fee should apply when the client unexpectedly terminates the project. And it should be a generous one, considering that while working on this particular project you had to turn down other offers — not to mention that you need a safety net until you find another client. Specify in your freelance contract how much notice the client must provide before canceling the project, as well as the fees that apply when they notify you within that time frame and when they don’t. This contract specification is professionally ethical since unforeseen decisions made by your contractors cost you time and money, if not dealt properly.
Scope creep fee
Your client asks you to do a little extra work that wasn’t in your original agreement. Should you ask for extra money for a job that took you 10 minutes to complete? Scope creep often starts as an innocent request that escalates to a situation where you find yourself doing a second job, pro bono. And then it’s too late to go back. To avoid getting to the point of no return, get your time-tracker running since minute one, and charge for the extra work.
However, keep in mind that many clients often don’t realize which tasks fall under your expertise and which don’t. So, make sure that you have clearly stated in your freelance contract the services you’ll provide for the project. If the client still asks for work that isn’t included in the contract, point out to them that extra freelance charges will apply to those tasks.
Hopefully, this freelance fees guide has shed light on those tricky situations that you didn’t know how to respond to. That said, it’s entirely up to you to decide which extra freelance charges you want to implement. Just remember that each time you settle for less or turn a blind eye, you create a precedent that affects how clients view all freelancers and what they expect from them.