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Ask HN: Need advice on my first time freelancing which involves fees
11 points by bprasanna on Feb 8, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments
For the past few years i was helping my friends and relatives by hosting their websites in my cloud host service. I did those for free only, as the intention was purely to help them.

Now, a freelancing request came through my friend which involves deciding the fee which i need to charge for a small service.

The service requirement is: Begin AWS instance, install DB, define schemas and upload data(one time process). Then check the AWS instance on a biweekly basis and take some backup of data. Not more than that.

How much should i charge? Requesting your suggestion, as this is my first time freelancing effort which involves money.

My advice is to start out keeping things simple:

1. Charge by the hour. Don't discount.

2. Provide an estimated range of your time based on your understanding of the scope work at the start of the project. Let the client work out how much it costs on their own.

3. Make it very very very clear that the estimate is non-binding. If it takes more time, the client pays more. If it takes less time, the client pays less.

4. Require a retainer for a large portion of the estimate. The retainer is to be applied against the last invoice so that you are never in a situation where the client owes you money.

5. Have an invoice schedule. Invoice on the schedule.

6. Walk away, if the potential client doesn't like your terms. Preparing proposals is a way of qualifying potential clients. Good clients, accept and pay under your terms.

Often, just saying, "I charge X per hour" is enough to determine if a client is serious. Amateur clients have unrealistic expectations. People you know will expect you to work for free. Don't. It's not worth it.

Good luck.

Thanks a ton. These points are clear and informative. I will try my best to abide by this.

I would think about setting this up as a subscription with automated invoicing through a paypal subscription or Stripe.

Maybe $49/mo including setup and twice monthly backups/status checks (look at automating this). (Adjust monthly subscription on your typical hourly rate and value of service you are providing, I'm just throwing a number out there).

Thank you for your valuable comments

If you go the subscription route, rather than billing by the hour as brudgers suggests, then make it VERY CLEAR what your subscription service includes. Anything past that, they need to pay up.

When in doubt, spell it out, because if you don't, it's likely people will expect more of you than you're offering.

Usually when you are recommended by a friend this would cause some extra task and support which are expected in friendship. that is the cost of getting customer easily. This means if you suggest less than normal it will not have profit for you. However, you can not claim more because there are too many competitor ready and online. All in all I think something around normal services would be fare.

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