Recently a friend & business owner has asked if I could assist a junior iOS developer employed under him with a project for a couple hours per week. Having never heard of this kind of engagement before, how would I structure it?

Should the rate I charge be different if I only provide advising on best practices, versus actually producing code from time to time?

I proposed an hourly agreement at first, and then later moving onto a retainer once a fit has been established.

I imagine the role to be equivalent to acting like a teacher, with perhaps some occasional debugging to fix gnarly bugs.

2 Answers 2


I understand where you're coming from: you aren't doing as much work in your opinion, so you don't want to charge your full rate. I'm going to tell you though...


Why? Because, as a Freelancer, you are the professional, and companies need to realize that. As I state in other answers, you are being hired for your expertise, not your time. If you are selling just your time, you may as well be at a 9 to 5 job. Just because they don't want to use all your skills does not mean they automatically get a discount.

An hourly agreement would probably be the best bet in this case, instead of by-project; you don't know exactly how much time will be needed here. And absolutely, get a retainer! Your retainer should be enough to cover you week-to-week, and documented carefully. See the other questions around here about retainers.

Now, what happens when this contract is done? Do they give you 2 weeks notice, or some other notice period? They better! You are putting off other clients to help this one out, and you need to keep food on the table. When making your contract, add information about how either party can terminate the agreement; if they terminate before a deadline date, include a penalty portion of the remaining payment. If you need to terminate the contract, offer to work until the retainer is completely drained, but explaining you will not be allowing them to refill it. This way, both of you have to agree to the end of the contract, or else the other has to deal with a "consequence", so to speak.

Until you are done with this client, you will unlikely be helping other people. You need to be prepared for that, and be compensated accordingly.

Now, what about the student's code? What if they need you later on in life? Can you restart the contract? Absolutely! Can you offer free support? Absolutely! Would I recommend offering free support? Heck no! It's up to the little tyke you're tutoring to ask all the questions they need to get going on their project. If they forget to ask something critical, and you remember, ethics tell us that you should tell them, and you absolutely should! But be aware of scope creep, or being contacted outside of the hours set aside for this client. You need compensated for your time and knowledge, which is what gives you value for your work. Never forget that!

  • Thanks for the detailed advice! I should also mention that I already have a full-time consulting gig, which the client is aware of, and was only considering to take on this advising role if there it didn't exceed more than 3-6 hours per week. But even with that said, you're right that I should be charging for my expertise, and not my time.
    – oohaba
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 6:04
  • Always remember it's your expertise they want. If they wanted time, they'd be putting ads on Craig's List to get the cheapest qualified person they could
    – Canadian Luke
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 6:05

If you are a seasoned expert, you are passing on years of knowledge and industry expertise on a personalized basis - that is worth a premium.

This sounds like a good fit for a 'Mentorship Guidance Contract.'

(You can Google 'Sample Mentorship Contracts' for some examples).

Charge your full rate. I would suggest 2hr minimum sessions for this type of arrangement, and any additional prep, research and documentation should also be billable - same rate.

You can, at your option and if agreed to by the client, include 'coding' (alternatively 'application development and consulting') fees, but keep your rate the same - you are being hired in an 'expert' capacity, and you generally don't switch hats in these types of arrangements.

Just make sure to define the scope of your engagement.

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