I have a long term client were I'm working fulltime as a freelancer. They are starting to have some financial problems due to declining sales (perhaps related to covid, I don't know). I have to work 2 weeks less this month because of this. The future is uncertain.

The client realises that If I work less for him, that I have to find another assignment and combine the two. I don't want to do this really because the context switch between 2 simultaneous clients is very demanding. They also prefer me not to do this because they know I'll probably have to switch fulltime.

On the other hand I don't just want to drop the client since I'm the only one that understands their software well enough, so just leaving for another assignment will be problematic for them. I don't want to be the nail on the coffin by leaving.

As an alternative I was thinking to stop billing by the hour as a freelancer usually does. But try to act more like a software company: I was thinking to estimate the amount of work for just support, maintenance/small changes and bill a fixed price each month (let's say this would be equal to 2 days a week) and request that I work from where I want. To protect myself I would still say that my maximum amount of hours are equal to that estimate. This way the client will always have someone who understands their software and keeps it up to date... ALSO the responsibility of finding and describing work would be on the client which will hopefully give me more time in the week to (again hopefully) find other client(s) to work with this way.

How feasible is it to work like this? If not feasible, is there anything else I can do to keep the client? will I ever be able to work fulltime like this?


2 Answers 2


Assuming it's only a small slump, I would look for more clients. You need food on your table, and that's your first priority.

It's good you want to work with your client, as opposed to only for yourself - but part of being a freelancer is that you go where the money is. If money isn't coming in the same, but they get the same amount of work out of you, then they're taking advantage of you - they're getting you for half price!

Look for more clients, which you should be constantly doing anyways. Choose your projects based on what time you have available and your skills. Your current client has to understand that if they want you full time, you need to be paid for full time.


I've done exactly what you're proposing and it can work out just fine. Just make sure that 1) the agreement is in writing, and 2) your agreement limits the hours you'll provide and the fixed price you charge pays for those hours. Do that and you either get paid for the hours you work the same as you do now, or you get paid for hours you didn't work, which is a bonus.

But as you've alluded to, you need to account for the context switching. Let's say you agree to provide a maximum of 80 hours per month for $X per month. How quickly will you be required to respond? You need to account for that in your agreement. If you have to respond quickly, how will that impact your other clients? If that client tends to have immediate response time requirements, I would price the fixed rate higher than your current hourly rate because that means you're potentially going to have to delay work for other clients. Or you could just set a response time limit in your agreement.

The rule I would follow is always try to do what you can to retain a good client.

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