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rory's avatar

Should I undercharge for freelance work in the hopes of getting more work?

Asked by rory (1162 points ) 2 weeks ago

I’m a college student, and I have a very part time internship gig with a documentary filmmaker—writing up grant proposals, updating her webpage, etc. For the past few weeks, I have been working on a page and a half long proposal to get funding for something, which has involved my having to interview someone twice via phone, do research on statistics, and write a couple of drafts.

I added it up, and I spent 7.5 hours on this project. I’m being paid $10/hour for my work. She asked me to send her an invoice. Should I charge her for the amount of time I actually spent on this? Or should I say I spent less time? I’m worried she’ll think it’s too expensive to hire me or I work too slowly.

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10 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Charge the full amount then add another 50% for gas and meals.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Charge for actual time worked, ALWAYS. If you choose to charge less to get work, let them know IN ADVANCE what your normal rates are, and what you are cutting. That way can drum up business, if you are good enough for people to stick with you once they witness your work. Simply slicing away at your actual time will win no favors, it would only deprive you of what you rightfully earned.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Tell the truth about your time. Don’t worry about getting more work. it is how well you did that work which will entice others.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes, price of the completed is not as important that the the grant is received. Ask for additional work and network for leads to more work. Make sure to include any costs you incurred. That means mileage at current per diem.

marinelife's avatar

Talk to her about it before you submit your invoice. But cutting your price is not usually the answer.

dabbler's avatar

If you undercharge it will not be long before your customers get used to it and you regret it.
Pay yourself fairly !

dabbler's avatar

You can chose to have different rates for different customers, e.g. it’s not unusual for people to charge non-profits less (or nothing) for their services because they support the non-profit.

But make it clear to them that they are getting a discounted ‘non-profit’ rate so that when they brag about your services to someone else that person will be less likely to think you’ll work for them for the low rate.

CWOTUS's avatar

If she knows the hourly rate that you charge (or that you’ve previously agreed upon with her), and if you haven’t been wasting any of the 7–½ hours that you’ve estimated to have spent on the project, then I would suggest that you submit an invoice / bill / timesheet for the full amount.

It doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable amount of time to spend for quality work that involves so many facets.

If you feel that you can get more work or promote yourself better to a wider audience, then consider offering temporary or promotional discounts to new clients, but always keeping in mind (and even showing on the invoice that you present) what the normal full-rate charge would be, so it’s clearly understood among these clients that “this is a special deal”.

Since you already have a rate established with the current client, then presenting a bill of “X” to her would indicate that you spent “X รท 10” hours on the work, which might give a false impression of how quickly you can produce that quality of work. Then when your next project takes relatively the same amount of time that this one did, and therefore costs more, she might feel that she’s being taken advantage of later.

Pachy's avatar

Lots of good advice above. In my experience, reputable companies pay what you decide your time and talent are worth.

rory's avatar

@CWOTUS, that’s a really good point, and one I hadn’t considered, in terms of the length of time thing. I worked as quickly as I could on this project, and I don’t want her to think that taking less time for this kind of thing is the standard.

Thanks all for your advice! I am going to charge her for the amount of work I actually did. I know from babysitting that undercharging can become a slippery slope—I still have clients paying me much less for babysitting than my current rate, because I was too polite to tell them I’d changed it.

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