Resources for Working for Yourself

We get a lot of questions from folks who want to know about freelancing/contracting. Here is some general information and links to get you started.

Creative Group 2008 Salary Guide
http://www.creativegroup.com/TCG/SalaryGuide

Robert Half Technology 2008 Salary Guide
http://www.roberthalftechnology.com/

Aquent/AIGA 2007 salary survey
http://www.designsalaries.com/downloads.html


Are you a contractor? 
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html


Are you a freelancer?
http://freelanceswitch.com
http://www.allfreelance.com/

 

Working for Yourself

As a freelancer, you can set your own schedule, prices, and direction. One of the main things to consider when setting up your services is where you want to fall on the spectrum of hourly vs. fixed project fees.

In general, depending on experience, speed, resources you bring to the table, etc, freelance rates for design and development can have a pretty wide range (such as $20/hour to $100+/hour). For instance:

  • Development (dynamic web programming, multiple languages) is often at the high end
  • Design and static pages can be at low-to-mid range
  • Hybrids (folks with a robust combination of professional design and development and project management experience) are at the mid-to-high range
  • Student and nonprofit-client rates can be at the low end

Project and Pricing Tips

    • Set clear boundaries at the start, using tools like a detailed survey/discussion with your client, a scope form, and a signed agreement that limits scope creep and un-negotiated project additions, and gives the project an expiration date.
    • If there’s something you can’t estimate accurately in advance, add it as an hourly billable charge.
    • Make sure to plan for your project management, client contact, and general project administration (billing, paperwork, acquainting yourself with client’s specific resources), and testing in your pricing. Keep in mind that these areas can sometimes take up to 10-25% of a project’s timeload. Log your time so you can estimate more accurately in the future.
    • Build in a communication process with your client – perhaps a single sign-off authority, a single person who makes revisions and requests, etc. Also consider setting limits on phone and e-mail requests for project changes – instead having them in writing – since it can be easy to jump every time someone e-mails a “can you do this too” email. Finally, develop a rescoping process with your client early so you both can handle changes in the project’s pricing without either of you feeling nickel-and-dimed.
    • A great tip from Ann Ray: If a client pushes back on your estimated cost, reconfigure the features to fit their budget, but do not reduce your rates. If nobody ever resists your prices, you’re leaving money on the table.

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