I was introduced by an acquaintance to someone who has work that I could do. We both met in person to discuss my abilities and the type of work I would do. Everything went great. However, we never talked about my hourly rate. So I have two questions:

  1. Should I have brought up payment during the meeting?
  2. The client sent me a invoice template to fill out. Should I just do the work and fill in my rate afterwards? Or should I contact the client to talk about payment.
  3. I foresee doing different tasks for this client of varying levels of difficulty. Is it acceptable to change my hourly rate for each task/project.

I'm relatively new to freelancing and don't know what is expected of me.

5 Answers 5


Always discuss payment before work begins. ALWAYS. (You should have a contract detailing scope and payment)

If you fail to do this it is inevitable that you will end up doing work the client doesn't want to pay for.. thus wasting your time and ultimate resulting in conflict and losing the client in most cases.

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The hourly rate must be discussed prior to sending an invoice.

Whether to have different rates for different types of work, is your business decision.

Personally, I have never had varying rates towards the same client. My time has a fixed price regardless of the tasks. Discussing rates repeatedly risks souring the client relationship.

If you are not fully booked, I guess you could charge a lower rate for tasks that can wait until better paying tasks have been completed - but would avoid it if at all possible. Do not offer lower rates unless the client insists.

  1. Yes! You rate should be discussed at the first meeting/call. Otherwise you will waste time on customers who aren't willing to value your work.
  2. If you want to get payed, you will have to contact him and discuss the rate before you start working.
  3. That would be possible but unusual, and I would advise against it.

You should elaborate and establish a "workflow" that you apply with all your clients, that will enable you and the client to have mutual clear, reliable and productive collaboration, and will protect you from any client's criticism during or after the work.

For example:

  1. Meeting with client to clarify exactly what is wanted, what to do, and how.
  2. Provide (for acceptance) a concise but detailed PDF quote with scope of work, prices, deliverables, milestones, etc.
  3. Have a second meeting to finalize the contract that the client will sign, where there will be reported in detail what was written in #2.
  4. ... and so on ...

If you are 100% clear and transparent on all these aspects, the client will not have any unpleasant surprise, and you will be protected against any criticism (unless you don't respect what you say), because he was totally informed on everything.


You should definitely fix an hourly rate before you agree to do any work. even if you agree a fixed price for a defined job this ensures that you have well defined terms for what you are invoicing for and you have a firm basis for negotiation in the case of any dispute.

As well as the basic hourly rate you should also make provision for any expenses, material or 3rd party costs which may apply.

1) Ideally yes, but if payment doesn't get raised in a face to face meeting you should follow up with a letter or email to formally confirm your payment terms. Make sure your client agrees to this before you start work. 2) It is not a bad idea to discuss they likely total cost of a job with your client, this can just be non-binding estimate but it at least means that you both have similar figure in mind. 3) Generally no. Your client is paying for your expertise and experience, the difficulty will be reflected in the time it takes you to complete the task. The only real exception being if there are extra expenses masticated with a specific task eg hire of equipment or similar expenditure which can be most conveniently billed by the hour or if you have a higher rate for working unsocial or extended hours.

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