I do freelance web development, but haven't been doing it for a very long time. I do not do design work. I'm just going to use web fonts as an example, but my question could apply to subscription APIs, or other rentable resources which end up integrated into clients' websites.

Say I receive a PSD or AI file from a client, who I assume worked with a designer on how they want their site to look. Several fonts are included which are not available as web fonts without a subscription to a web font server which costs let's say $50 a year. (Please assume for the sake of this question they don't want to self-host, I'm well aware they could buy individual licenses but this question is ultimately about subscription resources that developers might need in order to complete a client's request)

Having my own subscription may not be difficult for me to do. I could, for example, recoup part of this cost from a client as a necessary expense on their part, and if it's something that I commonly need to use perhaps I need only charge them a small amount as the cost could be spread out. I as a developer could potentially serve numerous clients at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost them to continue paying the fee for their own personal use.

However, what if I decide to stop paying, or what if I stop gaining clients that need to use the service? Is it my responsibility as a developer to provide this resource, or do I need to let my clients know that they need to purchase their own subscription to maintain access to a resource they want included, and then use their account to integrate it? I'm leaning toward the latter as the safer option for the client and the most logical on my part, but I'm not quite sure of what's expected of me.


What you choose to do should depend on the client relationship you want.

If you want long-term relationships with clients who are not tech-savvy, you should at the very least guide them or (even better) handle things for them. When negotiating the initial contract, you should agree on how expenses of this magnitude are handled. Perhaps they prefer you asking for permission everytime and passing the cost on to them; perhaps they prefer you shielding them from all the technical stuff - which means you'll need to include this when estimating your hourly rate or fixed price. All clients are different; you'll need to find a solution that works on a case-by-case basis.

On the other hand, if you don't want (or expect) a client relationship to be longer than the initial project, it makes more sense to have the client officially own and pay for such third party products.

  • So the answer is no, this sort of thing is not expected of freelancers in this industry, it just depends. Appreciate the thoughts.
    – el picaro
    Jun 9 '17 at 2:55

Just to be sure I understand, does your question boil down to this: Should I use my own subscriptions for third party extensions on one of my clients' websites, or arrange for them to have their own?

To me the answer seems obvious: why would the client use your subscription for their website, putting them into a position where they are dependent on you when there is no need to?

Of course they need their own subscription, they pay for it either way.

That's the easy part, the real question is: how will it be maintained? By you or by someone else?

As a side note, this question is off topic I think, this is not about freelancing but about web development.

  • The question boils down to this: Is this sort of thing expected of freelancers in this industry? Clearly no web developers who aren't freelancers would ever have to think about this, so I don't see how it's off topic.
    – el picaro
    Jun 9 '17 at 2:59
  • That's a fair point. I think the OP is right.
    – Chillin'
    Apr 18 '18 at 14:31

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