Stop Charging by the Hour and Make More Money as a Creative Professional


 Stop Charging by the Hour and Make More Money as a Creative Professional

If you're a creative professional, freelancer, or solo entrepreneur of any sort, chances are that charging by the hour is not the best way to get paid what you're worth.

If you've ever calculated your hourly rate and thought "Wow! I'm making so little!", then it's time to take a look at how else you can charge. Charging by project fee or commission versus charging by the hour is one great strategy for getting paid more quickly and accurately. It also leaves more room for negotiating your hourly rate to something that feels fair - not just for now but for when your business starts taking off and its success begins weighing on your scales.

Charging by the hour can be a great strategy for getting paid more quickly and accurately

To figure out if you're in a position to make the switch, consider these seven questions:

Do you need to complete the project in a set timeframe? Charging by the hour is ideal when your client wants you to complete a project within a specific amount of time. Clients who don't care when they receive their product or service are often more open to paying by the project instead. Are you billing an hourly rate that's higher than industry standard? If your hourly rate is similar to others in your industry, switching from charging hourly fees to charging by project will probably not help you book higher-paying jobs. If your hourly rate is significantly lower than industry standards, charging by the hour will help you keep the higher-paying projects. If your hourly rate is significantly higher than industry standards, it may be a good idea to go by project, but only if you're delivering value above and beyond what you charge. Is your hourly rate realistic for how much time you spend working on a project? If it takes you an hour to do something that another freelancer would take 3 hours to do, and then they have to bill four times as much per hour as you do, that's not fair. Just because you did a lot of work doesn't mean your hourly rate is justified. Are you willing to charge less per hour than someone you're making substantially more money than? If you've gotten a high-paying client, or if you want to stay competitive in your field, switching from charging by the hour to charging by project fee or commission is not going to be a wise move. You'll be competing with people who can charge much more per hour, and you'll be leaving more work to others in your field. If you're on a predictable, consistent schedule, charging by project instead of the hour makes sense in many cases. Are clients going to have questions about how much time you spent working on a project? If you're going to be doing some research or if your client will want proof that you've worked on a project, it's important that they know how much time it took you to complete the work because they may ask for clarification. You can't just tell them that you spent an hour on the project - you should have to prove it. Does your project require a lot of creativity or innovation? If you spend hours of your time developing a creative concept or coming up with ideas for content, instead of charging per hour for the time it takes you to complete a project, consider charging by project fee or commission. It's more accurate and also allows for some negotiation as regards to how much time you spent on the project.

I've been a solo entrepreneur for over 14 years, and in that time I've learned that charging a project fee vs. charging hourly yields much greater results than just the money you make. Here are the top three benefits I've found:

It's more motivating to bill a project fee than to bill per hour

Charging by the hour can become monotonous and even discouraging. There are a few reasons for this, one being that it's easy for time to be wasted without realizing it when you're working on a project in which you don't have a lot of ownership. And then you find yourself at the end of the month with nothing to show for it, or having only managed to earn less than $1,000 on all of your hard work. This is why charging per project is so much more motivating than charging by the hour. First, you're accountable for developing and completing a project, so if it takes you longer than expected or if you want to lower the cost per hour of your project (as described below), it will help your bottom line. In addition, though, because you're being paid per finished product or service instead of being paid an hourly rate, you can really step into the greatness that is your creative heart and mind. It's a rare opportunity to not only choose what projects to work on but also how much time it takes to complete each one! You'll be careful not to waste hours on a project that's taking too long or not value-adding enough. It allows you to set your own hourly rate

When you're billing an hourly rate and the clock is ticking, you're less willing to negotiate your pay. You'll be more tempted to take another project that pays more but that may not be worth your time. When you're billing a per project fee, however, there's room for negotiating the actual amount of money you will receive or how many hours the project takes. Your negotiation power increases because a client won't want to lose out on your talent or services. This can help you land more projects that pay more, but it can also help you get paid what you're worth on a current project. You'll create fewer conflicts with your clients

The only thing worse than not getting paid what you're worth is being in a position to get paid what you're worth and getting in an argument with your client about it! If the client does something unethical or unfair, such as suddenly switching from hourly billing to project billing without making any changes to the scope of the project, charging by the hour will make it harder for you to stand up for yourself.


Charging by the hour will not get you more project opportunities, instead, charging by project fee or commission is the way to go in most cases. If you're wanting to land more high-paying clients and aren't satisfied with your current project rate or if you want to be more motivated and productive on your work, switching from charging by the hour to charging by project may be in your best interest. However, if you've got a steady client base of clients who are used to paying an hourly rate for your services, this change may not be worth it. Remember that with all pricing structures there are pros and cons.

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