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Freelancers And Consultants: 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t be Billing Hourly

Freelancers And Consultants: 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t be Billing Hourly

Imagine a method of paying for a time-sensitive service whereby the slower the service provider is, the more they’re paid; and by contrast, the faster they are the less they earn.

One bizarre consequence of this arrangement is that the more experienced professionals in a given field, whose experience typically makes them faster than newcomers to the profession, will be treated as less valuable than the inexperienced practitioners who usually take longer to complete the same amount of (often inferior) work.

And consider also that this payment method means not only that the service provider has incentive to drag out his work as long as possible, but also that the client paying for the final product has incentive to rush the work.

Insane, right?

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And yet this is how tens of millions of service providers, consultants and other freelancers charge their clients. Hourly billing. What on earth are we thinking?

For the same reason the “Print Screen” key persists on desktop keyboards years after its real estate should have gone to, say, a “.com” key, consultants in just about every profession continue to bill by the hour. Because we always have.

If you’re a consultant, freelance contractor or the sole proprietor of a service business, there will of course be times when a client insists on paying you by the hour. (That simply means the client hasn’t given enough thought to this arrangement, either, because it works against their interests as much as against yours.) In those cases, what can you do?

But if you’re given the choice, or asked to define your preferred method of billing, here are 3 reasons you should not opt to charge by the hour:

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1)  It creates an adversarial relationship between you and your client — when such conflict is totally unnecessary and another billing arrangement would better benefit both sides.

Say you’re a graphic artist, and you and your client agree upfront that the new icon set you’re going to create for their website is worth $1,000 — for the first set, plus one round of revisions. (Tweaks beyond that are another matter, not important here.) You’re happy with that figure, and your client is as well.

Now that you’ve got that out of the way, you both have an incentive to arrive at an icon set everyone loves as soon as possible. The sooner it’s done, the sooner your client starts reaping the benefits of their new icons — on their website, in marketing collateral and in other branding channels. And the sooner it’s done, the more time you have for other paying projects — and the more “per hour” you’ve earned, if you want to think of it that way.

In other words, once the client has determined what the final work product is actually worth to them, the fact that you can bang out an excellent icon set in a hurry becomes a virtue for both parties. When you’re billing by the hour, by contrast, you have a perverse incentive not to finish your excellent first draft too quickly, because it means you’ll get paid less.

And this inherent conflict of interest carries through your entire relationship with your hourly-paying clients: If you demonstrate you can complete an icon set very quickly (and in fewer hours than the job’s compensation would be worth to you), you also have to worry you’re setting a precedent that the client should expect all of your design work to be completed fast — and not to have to pay you much for it.

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2)  It measures and rewards the wrong things (and neglects the right ones).

Let’s stick with our $1,000 icon set example. Imagine you’re billing hourly — say, $50 an hour — and you nail the icons on the first shot. Your client is thrilled with the work! You’re thrilled with the great feedback you’ve gotten. And because the job took you 20 hours, you can bill them $1,000. Not bad!

Now a different scenario: Your first draft falls flat. The client calls you frustrated and a bit panicked. After an unpleasant conversation, you crank out a second draft and, after you send in the new icons a couple of days later, the client responds that they’re pleased. Not thrilled, but pleased. And because the two drafts took you a combined 31 hours, you can bill the client… $1,550?

But wait. In the first scenario, you nailed the work on the first try. And they loved it. Second scenario? Not so much. It took you two tries, you shook your client’s faith in you, and you didn’t turn in an approved draft for an extra couple of days. But they paid you 50% more!

In a perfect scenario — or at least one where the client pays you for your work based on criteria less arbitrary than the number of hours the job takes — you’d whip up a brilliant design ASAP and then get yourself back out there working on other billable projects. And your client would start reaping the benefits of your completed work sooner.

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But in this nonsensical hourly-billing arrangement, you and your client are actually both working counter to your own best interests. You are, because you’re spending more time than necessary on the project (or at least holding back on delivering until you’ve racked up a number of billable hours you can live with). Your client is as well, because they’re rushing you to hurry the work rather than take the time you need to make it outstanding.

All because you and your client are measuring the project’s worth based on the totally arbitrary “total hours worked” rather than what really matters.

3)  It creates a built-in mechanism to make your work less compensated as you gain more relevant knowledge and expertise for your client.

Imagine you’ve been working with your icon-set client for a few months now. You’re learning about their organization, products, vision, customers and competitors. In short, you’re becoming faster at understanding new projects and banging out great work. Doesn’t this mean you’re becoming more valuable to your client than you were on your first assignments for them?

And yet, if you’re billing them honestly, the fact that you’re becoming quicker at completing assignments — and turning in work that delights your client — means that your compensation from this client goes down the more the relevant knowledge and experience you gain for them goes up.

My advice: Bill by the project. Once you and your client agree on the ultimate worth of a given task or service, your interests become nicely aligned from that moment forward. And you can both get on with the business of generating the best work possible in the shortest time possible.

More by this author

robbie hyman

Copywriter

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

Life Insurance: A Secure Way To Protect Your Future.

Life Insurance: A Secure Way To Protect Your Future.

Life is a journey full of ups and downs. No one can actually predict what might happen the next moment; there are times where the happiest moments do not even take a second to turn into the gravest. Planning for your future can help you face such unwelcomed but irrepressible situations with much ease. We all want to make every memorable event of our life more special and to cherish all those moments happily and worry less, you must financially plan your future. But no one has control over life and death. Who would wish to see his family suffer in his absence? Insurance hands over the financial jeopardy of life’s happenings to an insurance company.

Importance of getting a life insurance

No one has control over life and death. Nobody would like to see their family suffering in an absence, and that’s why many people recommend life insurance. A life insurance plan is one of the best ways to secure the future of your family, even against those financial troubles after an untimely demise. These plans are safe and credible, and you could trust them for your family’s better future.

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On the other hand, a life insurance policy is a contract between a company (insurance provider) and policyholder in which the insurance provider ensures to pay a certain amount of money to the nominated beneficiary in case of the policyholder’s death during the term of the agreement. There are different types of insurance plans, and it is important for you to know the benefits of those plans such as a funeral, medical or some life expenses provided they are mentioned in the agreement.

Choosing the right insurance plan

If you’re about to select an insurance plan, you should consider some important factors:

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  • The time at which you start investing in a program and the number of family members you want to get insured. Obviously, a married man with two children has different needs compared to a single one. The number of persons who are dependent on an individual also varies from person to person.
  • The next thing you need to consider is you and your family needs. What are your child’s dream, your retirement plans, for how long would your dependents need financial support, any personal injury, etc. And do not forget those events or situations that will surely demand a huge sum of money.
  • The next thing one must consider is your current income. You should preferably choose a plan which you can afford.

Now you must be having a pretty clear idea of how to choose the best plan for you. Further, you should also compare various plans offered by different companies and numerous sites available online that help will you to compare them.

Differences between life insurance plans

Here’s a short brief of some plan categories you can choose according to your needs:

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  • Term Insurance Plan – You have to pay once, and your nominee gets the paid money under your misfortune demise. It ensures a person for a fixed time. If you survive the policy period, you do not get your premiums back.
  • Whole Life Policy – This plan continues for your lifetime. Under this, the policyholder has to pay regular premiums, until their death.
  • Endowment Policy –  In case the individual dies during the tenure, the beneficiary gets the amount assured. If the person survives the policy tenure, they gets back the premiums paid with other investment returns along with several other benefits.
  • Money Back Policy – In this a portion of the money invested is returned to the investor at regular intervals. If you survive the insurance term you get the entire amount back; else the beneficiary receives the entire sum assured.
  • ULIPs – These are the life insurance plans that offer you future security plus wealth creation options.

Many people do not opt for whole life policy and endowment policy because of the high amount of money you need to pay, while others may prefer to opt for these if they have a high life expectancy. Surely you will find the best one for you.

So what are you waiting for? Plan for your future and live a happier and carefree life today.

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Featured photo credit: aryehsampson.com via aryehsampson.com

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