Are you charging enough money for the freelance work that you do?
You probably aren't. Most freelancers underestimate how much they should charge for a project. Sometimes the amount of the underestimation is significant. In extreme cases, underestimating a project can mean the end of a freelancing business.
The most common reason that freelancers underestimate projects is because they don't really understand the complexity of the project. There's a natural tendency that many of us have to gloss over the details. But it's those very details that can mean the difference between a profitable project and working below minimum wage.
Asking the right questions through the Osmosis questionnaire can help. Often it's a matter of asking the right questions. In this post, I share eight critical ways to use the Osmosis questionnaire to ensure that you are not undercharging your client.
Meetings can add a lot of time to a project. There's a big difference between a project that requires lots of meetings and a project where you are basically on your own unless you have a question.
Over the life of a project, a weekly two-hour status meeting can really add up. After only a month of weekly two-hour meetings, you will have spent eight hours of your time on meetings. If you didn't consider meeting time when you quoted a price, that's like giving the client a free day's worth of your time each month.
To avoid any unexpected meetings, add the following questions:
Do you have regular meetings with the team? If you do, how often do you meet?
You may also wish to add a clause to your terms that states that you charge an hourly rate for any required meetings.
The more people who review your work, the more likely it is that there will be changes and revisions. You might also find yourself going through multiple review cycles if there are many reviewers.
The last thing that any freelancer wants it to be caught in an endless loop of revisions and changes to a project.
To find out how many people will review the finished draft of your work, simply ask:
How many people will review my finished work? How many review cycles do you anticipate?
The higher the number of reviewers/revisions, the higher your quote should be.
Some projects require special tools for you to complete them.
If the project requires that you purchase a software tool, or if the client wants you to work using a tool that you don't currently own, you'll have an expense associated with your project.
The trouble is that some specialized tools can be costly. In a worst-case scenario, the money you spend buying the specialized tool could exceed your earnings for the project.
It's best to ask about required tools before you quote a project price. Here's the question to ask:
What software tool(s) will I need to complete this project? Will I need any specialized tools?
In some cases, the client will offer to buy the specialized tool for you or provide you with access to the tool through their corporate account. If they don't, however, you will need to consider the cost of tool in your price estimate for the project.
Many freelancers take freelance rush jobs as a matter of course. It's convenient for the client, and willingness to accept a rush job sometimes means the difference between getting the job and not getting the job.
But in most cases, you should charge more for a rush job. Think of it this way--if you had a traditional job and your employer asked you to work overtime, you would get overtime pay, right? Well, as a freelancer you should treat yourself at least as well as an employer would treat you.
Plus, there are many risks involved with rush jobs. With rush work:
All of those extra risks mean that you should charge more for a rush job. How much more is up to you. Just remember that doing a rush job is a convenience for the client.
Clients often don't understand how to meet their goals. They may ask for work that they think will meet their goal, but really won't work for what they are trying to accomplish.
If you're not careful, you'll wind up with an unhappy client.
We freelancers need to be aware of this problem and ask the appropriate questions to find out what the client is really trying to achieve. Once we know what the client really wants, we can help them meet their goal.
To find out what the client's true goal is, add these questions to your Osmosis questionnaire:
What are you trying to accomplish with this project? What would you like to see happen as a result?
Another problem that can complicate a project is the lack of someone on the client's side to answer questions. If no one is willing to provide answers and provide clarifications for you, the risk of you making a mistake or a wrong assumption on the project increases.
Also, if the person is unable to get back to you in a timely fashion, it could delay the project. Slow answers from a client could even mean that you miss the deadline.
Include these questions on your questionnaire:
Who will be available to answer questions that might come up during the course of the project? How quickly will they be able to get back to me with answers?
How the client answers these question affects not only the rate you should charge, but possibly also the deadline that you can achieve.
Many freelancers are afraid to ask the client how much money they have budgeted for the freelancing project. They feel awkward discussing money in such a direct manner.
Not asking about the client's budget is a big mistake, though. Here's why:
To find out how much money a client has budgeted for a project, simply ask:
What is your budget range for this project?
A few clients won't answer, but most clients have a dollar amount in mind and are willing to tell you what it is.
Sometimes clients expect you to do additional work that they don't mention upfront. Often, they expect this additional work to be included in your quoted price (even if you don't mention it).
For example, if you are designing a web page, the client may expect you to also provide the content. Or, if you are doing some programming, the client may also expect you to provide regular updates.
Unpaid add-on projects can negatively affect your profitability. It's best to address the issue before you accept the project. In the web design example above, you would simply ask:
Who will be providing the web content for this page?
If the client indicates that they would like you to do it, you should include the cost for this additional work in your estimate.
Now that you've asked the right questions, you have a much better picture of what the project really entails. You are far less likely to accidentally quote a project rate that is too low for the amount of work involved.
Carefully look over the answers on your Osmosis Questionnaire. If you included the elements we discussed above on your questionnaire you probably realize that the project will be more work than you thought it would be at first.
When you have considered all of the answers, you are ready to create a proposal using Osmosis.
What questions do you ask to make sure that you have enough information to charge a fair rate? Share your answers in the comments.