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So I have been doing websites as freelancer now for some time. Couple clients likes to do small scale development now and then to their site, which is great but the problem is that they have always tight schedule. So example scenario:

Week 1: They ask how much it would cost to do this feature. I let them know and they say they think about it.

Week 3: They say they want it, but they need it tomorrow. Well obviously my schedule for next day is full already.

Now the problem... I would like to do this and since usually the development is something simple and quick. Max one hour billable. But that they want this to be done fast gives problems. I have said multiple times that these things should be scheduled at least few days beforehand or ideally week(s) before. What would you do in my shoes? Ask higher fee for quick job? How much is suitable? 10%-15% extra?

  • Don't go below 50% for such quick tasks. Even 100% price is not bad. After all, you are leaving the work of other clients aside just to do this client. Later on, you will have to see if this "day less" influenced schedules in other projects. So double price is OK. If it's too much for them, then they will quickly stop making such urgent requests. – Peter MV Aug 5 '14 at 12:09
  • For quick jobs I ask for a set amount based off of my estimated time (padded by an hour or so, depending). – Seth G. Mar 15 '17 at 15:21
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I typically tell customers that these jobs will get fit into my schedule when possible, and that 1 day lead time is not sufficient. However, I have also on occasion charged more for bumping other work.

When possible, I'd try to quote both rates to the customer up front - "If you want my guaranteed attention immediately, it will be $X, but if it can wait a few days or a week, then the cost will be $Y." But if you don't quote them an "emergency rate" up front, you can still offer them the choice once they come back with "Approved, but must be done today". In those cases, I'd at least be very clear in your original bid that the number is based on 2 day notice or something to that effect.

How much? Well, I don't charge hourly, but honestly, 10%-15% sounds paltry to me on a small project like this. I'd probably charge 50% markup. But that's just me.

  • Yeah, I was thinking that 10-15 would be pretty low. But good idea putting on offer two prices or similar. I have to think about it. – user995317 Aug 4 '14 at 20:40
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Payment FIRST! Clients like to rush, rush, rush and if you're not careful all you'll see is dollar signs in front of your eyes without examining the situation properly.

The client needs to be in as much of a rush to PAY you as the client is to get the work finished. Write a strong contract and don't rush the details. Beware the client who says, "can't we handle all of that stuff later????"

  • Your answer has almost no relevance to the question. – user45623 Mar 15 '17 at 21:58
  • @CanadianLuke The question is about how to bill rush jobs. "Make sure the client pays you first" isn't an answer to that question. Abstracting more, the question is "how much do I charge" and the answer codenoir gave is "make sure the client pays you". – user45623 Mar 23 '17 at 8:32
  • @user45623 actually says, "What would you do in my shoes?" before the other questions. Did you miss that? It's funny how you can surmise that my response has no relevance to the question, when you obviously didn't read the entire question. – Xavier J Mar 23 '17 at 13:19
  • @codenoir I did read the entire question. My opinion is that your answer is not relevant to the question. Did you only read the sentence "what would you do in my shoes"? He obviously does not mean "give me any piece of advice you can think of related to getting paid" when he says "what would you do in my shoes?" "Payment first" is general advice; it doesn't have any specific relevance to rush jobs. – user45623 Mar 23 '17 at 22:15
  • Look at it this way. The question contains "They say they want it, but they need it tomorrow. Well obviously my schedule for next day is full already." How does "payment first" help that problem? It doesn't suddenly open up room in his schedule the next day. – user45623 Mar 24 '17 at 0:35
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I agree with Avonelle. However, I'd charge 100% (or more). Every industry has a rush fee. Shipping, design, transportation etc. It's nothing new or unheard of to mark the price up drastically. I don't do it to make more money, I do it to discourage the habit. Once you do something as a rush for free, you devalue your time and establish an environment that welcomes the behavior.

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The important question is not just about money - as I understand you, you would much rather bill your normal rate with a decent deadline, than bill double with a short deadline.

So whatever rate you choose, make sure to inform your client in the initial quote, and make it their, well-informed choice. Eg.

Feature X: 100 $

Feature Y: 50 $

Feature Z: ...

The quote assumes a 2 week deadline.

+50% is added to the quote for deadlines shorter than a week - only upon mutual agreement.

An additional +50% is added to the quote for deadlines shorter than a 48 h - only upon mutual agreement.

That will surely have the desired effect.

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