The most sensitive part of freelancing is how much you should charge up front and how to select milestones. Of course, there will be pros and cons of setting your price too low or too high. A less experienced freelancer would think of setting low rates with the hopes of attracting more clients. However, setting low prices will give your clients an impression of mediocre work, and setting them too high only because you want to earn big immediately may scare clients away because most of them won't be able to afford you.
So how much should freelancers charge up front? I wouldn’t give specific amounts since the best person to decide on that is you. But here are some factors to assist you in coming up with the best and an ideal upfront rate for yourself:
Different projects have different upfront rates. Your rate should be determined by the scope of the project, the complexity, the type of materials needed and their availability. The cost of materials needed for your freelancing job should be included in the upfront quotation.
Most freelancers are ghost workers; this means that you’re going to work for somebody else, and all the resale and distribution rights will belong to your client. The upfront rate should also be determined by how much you'll lose for choosing to sell your rights to your client.
If the project needs a lot of time; especially the project compels you to travel to different places to conduct interviews, the upfront fee for the project may be set a little high. This should be done to ensure that you’re able to cover all the expenses that you will incur before completing the first milestone of the project. However, you should ensure that your quotations and findings are honest. Don't include the time you’ll spend taking snacks or having fun when making your upfront payment estimations.
After deciding on how much you should charge your clients upfront, it’s time to select milestones. Milestone planning and selection are among the most important aspects of any freelance project planning. This is because project milestones are used to indicate project progress. Milestones can also be used to mark critical decision points in a freelance project, the completion of main project tasks and the completion of various project phases. Milestones work best with larger and more complex projects. Milestones also ensure that you receive payment for completed tasks and project phases, allowing your client to establish trust in your service delivery and work in steps with small modifications to ensure client satisfaction. Here’s how to select milestones:
This will largely depend on the length and type of project you are doing. Milestone payments are recommended for projects with specified time goals that those projects that last longer than two weeks. Milestone payments can also be used for milestone payments, though these will often be time-based and not limited to project goal completions. If you've got a short project that will take you less than two weeks to complete, it doesn’t make sense to split the payments. However, you may still ask for a deposit on contract-signing.
You must include your milestone payment schedule in your proposal, even if you’ve already mentioned it in emails or verbally during your previous meetings with your client. Just submit a proposal to your client with all the key deliverables outlined and broken out in a detailed timeline.
The chances are that if your client isn’t used to making milestone payments, he/ she may find it hard to accept the concept of spit payments. This may prompt them to ask for fewer payments or try to get larger amounts paid after completing the project. This is very normal, that’s why you need to negotiate the process that will let you both carrying an appropriate amount of risk. If your project duration is less than a month, you can split the payment into two, 50% upfront and the remaining 50% after delivery. If it’s more than a month, you can ask your client to pay you 25% upfront, 25% after project completion and split the remaining 50% into milestones
Lastly, the best way to ensure that upfront charges and milestone payments are in your favor is to maintain a strong reliability reputation. This is where recommendations, testimonials social proof co4, and referrals from previous clients, come in handy. A nice way of structuring your payment schedule is by having bigger payments for the last milestone when you have completed the project.
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