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  1. #26
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    I'll give an real world example:

    When I first started as a tech support person for my current employer, our website was outsourced.

    I would send content changes to the web company. If I requested something as simple as an email link change, they would bill it as 30 min. (And we had a support agreement with them)

    Now, as the client, I hated this. I knew it didn't take anywhere near 30 min. Maybe 30 seconds.


    But now as a freelance web designer:

    Whats the fair trade if a client only wants support/updates on an hourly basis?

    What if I have a client that only wants to pay hourly, but only requests changes 3-4 times a year, that only take 15min each? Part of me thinks I should charge this client a 1 hr minimum each time. Not just for the 15 min of labor, but the response time, putting aside other clients to, and a premium for not being a regular client with a support plan.

  2. #27
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    I mostly bill maintenance by the hour, in 15 min increments. On a new site, I tell them that the first quarter is usually the worst, but after we see a year go by, they should be able to use that as an estimate.

    For some websites that have obvious updates (monthly meeting page, monthly workshop or book of the month etc), I give them a flat fee for the year to cover all the planned work. Anything else is then extra.

    One site I do has over a thousand member names, linking to the member's websites if applicable. Inevitably I get one or two changes to those links a week (to a brand new website or new domain). Rather than bill 15 mins for 3 mins of work, I have that page set to open a Design Note in Dreamweaver every time I open it. In it I have a note that says "January: ##", which means I updated that number (##) of links that month. Every time I open it I increment the number by one. Then whenever I'm billing next, I can just open the Design Note and tally up how many links were updated since the last invoice, charging 5mins for each. Note that I work a lot for non-profits that I believe in, so rounding every little updated link to 15 mins doesn't feel right to me. And accumulating a bunch of members' emails until I have a few to do didn't work either. I found if their link wasn't updated within a day or two, the member would email again wondering if I got the firs temail, and CC'ing the client etc., so I may as well do it instantly and look like a hero...<G>

  3. #28
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    Combination of Contract and Hourly

    I offer my clients whatever method they prefer and think will be a better use of their investment. For clients who believe they will be changing their site regularly I will offer them a maintenance plan of a few hours per month at a reduced hourly rate. They can either pay this monthly, or annually. Sometimes I will package that with my annual hosting and domain name management renewal.

    Other clients who may only send me updates every now and then I just bill hourly when they need something done. I bill in half-hour increments at a minimum.

    The other option I provide clients is to set them up with a website built on top of CMS option. They pick a template that I tweak and customize it to make it their own, then give them some documents and training on how they can make minor changes to their content themselves without calling or waiting on me.

  4. #29
    SitePoint Enthusiast exstatic's Avatar
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    I usually charge 15&#37; based on the cost of the project and have that payable as an option as a yearly fee on completion of the project.

    If I have taken over maintenance of a site, I would do the same but estimate how much it would have cost me to develop the site myself and charge 15% on that..

    That seems to work well and *touch wood* I haven't had too much an issue of clients abusing this service.

  5. #30
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    seems like a lotta free work to me ...

    Well guys I don't realy know what to say to this, but "to each it's own". I was wondering though, how many of you are pro?? meaning you only live off your webdesign and programming work.
    Well when you become one let me know your "new" policy for charging clients, as this kind of (5min) charging is going to take you nowhere.

  6. #31
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    Cool

    This thread has been quite intriguing to me as there are such a variety of theories. Everyone who has been following this thread tends to agree with one opinion more so than another, but there are a couple of things to take into consideration.

    1. Theories/opinions are just that; one is not right, thus implying another one is wrong. There are merely different methods and approaches.
    2. Multiple theories can be applicable to the same issue at different times.


    Now, that might sound like ridiculous, but let me explain.

    I think that trying to figure out a way to bill your client for 5 minutes of work is not worth it and a bit anal. However, logging 5 minutes of your work for later tallying up to bill them a block of time is fine and the reason why is because you are being a good steward of your/their time and logs protects you in the case that you end up in court (as a worse-case scenario). Logs are also fantastic for showing you how you spend your time and hopefully you will be able to see if your billing for particular services is appropriate or not.

    Another misnomer that this thread has not addressed is that ALL clients are the same and equal. Wrong. All clients should be treated equally and professionally, but that in itself does not determine that all are automatically billable in the same manner.

    Point in case example:
    I once worked with a client that did not choose to pay me until the work was completed. Why? Because I didn't bill him until the work was done even though a project cost was established from the beginning, no pre-flight revenue was required, but also, because he was trustworthy and a friend, so I knew I wouldn't get "stiffed" out of money.

    No one in their right mind would try a business relationship like that, but it was a unique situation and it worked and both parties were happy and felt treated well.

    Other clients I would ask a deposit (e.g. 25-50%) before beginning. There's nothing wrong with this and it's even smart for your protection.

    So unless you're tallying up those 5-minute increments for one bill, give them away and improve humanity. One day a few years ago, I was driving and a car had run out of gas on the road about a mile from the gas station. I stopped, hooked their car up to my jeep and towed them to the gas station. It took about 15 minutes of my time and I didn't charge them even though it caused me to be 15 minutes late to a dinner party. Preach humanity. It goes a long ways and good will always come back to you.

    I realize this post went a bit more towards the philosophical side, but with more theories to consider, maybe it will help someone to find a billing method that will work for them as I don't believe their is one perfect billing method as this thread is trying to determine.

    Peace,
    Shad
    Trying to get back to where I came from...

  7. #32
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandstorm View Post
    Well guys I don't realy know what to say to this, but "to each it's own". I was wondering though, how many of you are pro?? meaning you only live off your webdesign and programming work.
    Well when you become one let me know your "new" policy for charging clients, as this kind of (5min) charging is going to take you nowhere.
    For maintenance, we bill hourly with a 1/2 hour minimum. However, for good clients, we'll often overlook an occasional 5 minute job out of goodwill.

    For example, we have one client in particular that asks for 1 or 2 small, 5 minute (or less) updates per month. I generally don't bill him for the simple work (even though he'd gladly pay the bill.) This same client has sent me 2 or 3 good referrals in the last month. I'd say it was worth overlooking 10 minutes worth of work.


    Oh... and to address your concern "Sandstorm" ... My wife and I both make a comfortable living on just our web work.
    Now Hiring
    Looking for (x)html coder/ php programmer/
    WordPress expert for project work. PM me with
    your rates and work samples if you're interested.


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