why you should stop billing by the hour.
How many of you freelancers out there are quoting and billing by the hour? Ok. STOP DOING THAT. RIGHT NOW. I’M SERIOUS.
Here’s why. Clients do not know how long something should take. They are clueless. They come to us because they don’t know. It is your duty as a designer to be of service to them, and guide them as a confident badass designer that you are. If you tell them it takes 30 hours for a logo to come to fruition, they have no idea if that’s accurate, all they know is that they have to multiply the hours by your rate, and “oh no, that’s so much money.” Ask me if I know how long moving a pipe for pluming should take. I HAVE NO IDEA. I just want you to do it because I can’t.
Secondly, if you go back to my time vs value post here you can read that time doesn’t create money. VALUE creates money. You have to educate your clients on what a logo is. How it fits into a visual narrative and a larger cohesive brand. How it’s on a side of a building for years to come, how it’s in all your social media avatars, on your business card, and in the annual fundraising gala program booklet because you donated thousands of dollars to rescue local puppies. A quality logo is not 30 hours. A quality logo is years of use that elevates a client’s brand and allows them to align with their ideal customers.
Thirdly, if you are new in the design business do you charge for hours it takes you to fiddle with the design software programs? To learn new things? You shouldn’t. And conversely, if you have been in the business for 10 years and a logo only takes you 10 hours, should you hand back the money for the other 20? Fuck no! That’s your skillset, and knowledge, and efficiency that you have built up over time that is worth every penny.
Ok, so then how to quote? I have to back paddle here for a second. I do calculate the general hours a job would take me. This does become easier with experience and with a very strict time tracking system (sorry bud, Instagram, and logo design are not part of the same time entry) and I do have an hourly rate in mind. But I multiply that up add project management time (emails, file setups, etc.) and offer the quote as a package for one fee. If it takes me longer—my time management skills suck, if it takes me less—hurray, I’m getting efficient.
Lastly, I personally feel that an hourly project, even if it drags on and you get paid for all those hours, is an extra tab open in my brain. I don’t want to carry projects for months on end, and in my business disclosing the rate and how many hours something would take me led me to shortchange myself in design fees that I deserve. I felt weird saying how long, so I lowered my hourly rate, but then I ended up losing my ass on the job with so very little sleep it was not worth it. For me, an hourly open-ended question allows for scope creep in a way that lets the client off the hook with getting back to me, or not providing all info upfront or lets me dilly-dally unnecessarily.
Share what you guys think though! The more I talk about the freelance biz life, the more interesting I find this space and how we all navigate it. Happy hump day.