When to Charge Clients and When to Do Favors

When you’re a freelancer or you’ve got your own online service business – whether its design, copy writing, web development, SEO or just consulting – there always comes times when a client asks for something that takes you only a few minutes to do and you have to decide whether you charge them a minimum or not.

I find this situation comes up a lot, like when a current client asks me to add a email address to their hosting account. It is something I can do in less than 3 minutes – its only 4 clicks and typing the new email address in – but I sometimes feel slightly bad about billing them for it (I DO bill for the yearly Google Apps email fees).

So when do you bill for these small tasks and when do you just do them for a favor to a good client?

There are two things to think about here.

First is, how many times do you do these small tasks during the day/week/month? Say I do 3 tiny client-requested tasks each day that equal 15 minutes total a day. That comes to 75 minutes a week, or 300 minutes a month. Suddenly it seems to add up.

Second, do you think that your client really knows/cares if you’re helping them out with this little ‘favor’? Most would assume that they’d be charged, since its something they can’t do themselves. And they may not even know that those tasks take just minutes to do.

Get Them Used to Minimum Time Charges

The best way to make sure your clients never complain about the small charges is to set the standard from the beginning. No matter what the task, start with a minimum charge limit. Be it 10 or 15 minutes or even have a base service charge no matter what the time. If they know this from the start (even put it in your initial contract!), they’ll never be shocked or against any small charges when they ask you to do something for them.

When you call a plumber or fridge repairman and they come out to fix something, even if it takes them only 5 minutes to find and fix the issue, you’re still charged a full service call price. So why should your business be any different? Don’t get hit by those little client tasks and make sure you charge for everything you do!

 

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