A freelancer’s passion is to help people in some way whether you’re offering writing, design, or another service. Being a little too helpful can cause us to not set proper boundaries with our clients. Beware — unclear boundaries and doing favors don’t help your bottom line.
Rush work is a specific area where you need to be careful. A client who asks for a rush job is asking you to do something that’s above and beyond your work terms. Taking on rush work is an opportunity to increase your service fee.
Here’s why you shouldn’t do rush work as a favor without getting properly compensated:
Reason #1: Rush Work Can Conflict With Your Other Projects
What rush work is for you will depend on the type of work you do and how long it typically takes you.
As a writer, I consider rush work any new project that a client needs within a week. My schedule is typically planned out a month in advance with weekly assignments. Taking on a last-minute job means I have to make some adjustments. I may even have to table other projects to accommodate the client.
You have every right to charge extra if an unplanned request comes in at the eleventh hour. This includes any changes to the scope of the work that haven’t been discussed. I usually add an extra $50 at a minimum for a rush job. Another option is charging a percentage of your project fee.
For example, if you charge $1,000 regularly for a certain type of work, adding on just $50 isn’t going to be proper compensation. A 10% to 20% rush fee could be a better alternative.
Reason #2: You Need “Overtime” Money
Switching around your schedule is just one variable to consider. There’s also the physical and mental labor aspect.
There technically isn’t overtime when you’re running your own business. We could work 60 to 80+ hours a week. This can be fine and dandy as long as you’re getting paid for it. Traditional jobs give bonuses and overtime pay. You need to create this pay for yourself.
Working on a tight deadline can be stressful. If you’re not getting paid appropriately for the effort, you will feel resentful. I did many, many favors at the beginning of my writing career. I thought standing up for myself would make me too challenging to work with, and clients would dump me. This mindset caused burnout.
Don’t fall into this trap. If you’re doing work that adds unexpected hours to your week, charge for it.
What happens if someone doesn’t want to pay?
The fear you may have is that your client will refuse to pay your rush fee. Don’t take it personally and don’t waver from the last-minute pricing conditions that you set.
Clients remember when you’re flexible on price, and they will always haggle with you. Trust me, clients who understand the value of your time and effort will pay up with no questions asked especially if they’re trying to avoid doing the last-minute work themselves.