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How do you charge for something where you're learning as you go along?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by Myles Lucas Brock, Jun 10, 2017.

  1. Myles Lucas Brock

    Myles Lucas Brock New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I graduated recently from University and decided to go straight into freelancing (the deep end if you will :X3:).

    I mainly design attractive and functional websites for businesses and startups looking to improve their web presence or get the best start possible.

    One challenge that I'm having frequently is, because my educational background is mainly in Graphic Art (branding, editorial, etc) there are many of the technical aspects of my business I'm learning as I go along.

    The challenge is not the learning part, I enjoy learning new things, it's how to charge clients for this work.

    Obviously I can say "Oh I'll just turn off my time tracker when I'm learning" but that doesn't work in practice because I'm often learning and doing at the same time, I find doing the two things separately impractical and boring.

    My question is how do other people deal with this issue? What works for you when you have to learn something and do it at the same time for a client? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  2. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Just charge for it. You may be learning but you're still offering a service that relies on a skill your clients don't have.
  3. Myles Lucas Brock

    Myles Lucas Brock New Member

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for responding.

    Thanks I like that answer! :LOL: (y)
  4. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    I maybe wouldn't charge hourly as it'll probably take you a lot longer as you're learning as you go but as long as they get the product they want then a flat fee may work better.

    Design can be a constant learning curve.
    I sometime have to do things and use things that were not meant to be used that way to achieve an end result.
  5. Myles Lucas Brock

    Myles Lucas Brock New Member


    I here what you're saying. I think it's more sensible to charge a flat fee and then set the payments up in installments, starting with a small down payment (10-20%) then a payment half-way through upon client approval then one at the end after the final payment is made. But then my question would be, how do you go about working out a flat fee for something that you haven't done before?


    Aside from design I also end up handling a lot of the technical aspects of my clients' websites. I recently set up GSuite emails on one of my clients' domains so that their email service would be more stable.

    When I went to edit the settings so that the contact form on the website would recognise the new email settings, I realised that not only would I need to set up a new plugin to get it working correctly, but that Google also required me to create a "Policy Page" for the website as part of the setup process. So there's two things that add extra time to the process that I could not have predicted.

    So then, I'm thinking that one could either estimate the time to create a flat fee and then add on a certain %, or just charge by hour and then reduce it by a certain %.

    But then again, my rates are purposefully low for this reason, considering I am responsive and always willing to be of service. So really, I like Paul's answer, it is something they can't do themselves, and their business is already benefiting from the work I have done for them :).

    I know what you mean about "hacking design", for me that's part of the fun. I find it usually takes a lot longer for example to find a free solution to something than a paid solution, however I learn so much in the process that it is almost always totally worth it (y).


  6. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I've been designing and developing website commercially for around 4 or 5 years and I'm always learning. That's part of the fun of it. Over the years, as I've learnt more and my skillset has grown so has my hourly and daily rates.

    Never stop learning. Every day's a school day. (y)
  7. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Literally every time I come to build a site I've designed I'm hit by at least one hurdle that I need to figure out how to implement. This is part of the process and as Dave said is just part and parcel of the industry really. Design and development are about problem-solving, not just in the sense of improving a client's business or such like, but also literally – "This doesn't work on the site, how do I fix it?"

    You can't know everything so get used to charging accordingly. Assume that a job is going to take you longer than you first anticipate due to unforeseen problems, client requests, etc and add time (and money) to account for that.

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