All freelancers (and anyone who has worked for a living, for that matter) have experienced the type of project that your client wants to be done yesterday. Can you relate?
These kinds of rush jobs can be fairly common for freelancers, but don’t let the inconvenience leave you stranded with an empty wallet.
Here’s why and how you should be using rush fees as a freelancer.
Rush fees are typically applied to projects that:
- Cause you to work over the weekend
- Mean putting other deadlines or projects off
- Have a particular short deadline (48 hours and under)
However, what constitutes as a rush job is entirely down to you and your schedule.
Rush jobs are typically filled with stress and inconvenience, as you may need to put off other plans and work in order to accommodate a client’s request. Of course, saying ‘no’ is a totally fair option – but if you want to take the project on, asking to be compensated for your time is only fair.
Should You Take on Rush Jobs?
Rush jobs can be fairly stressful for both parties, and will often mean you are working overtime or on weekends to fit the project in. For this reason, many freelancers may decide not to take rush jobs on, ever.
However, a few circumstances where you may consider rush jobs could include:
- Helping out a long-term client who you know is reliable and want to keep on good terms
- When your workload is a little low so you are looking for extra work/income anyway
- If the size of the project or the deadline is not completely unreasonable for you to fit into your schedule
How Much Should I Charge for a Rush Fee?
There are varying opinions on how much freelancers should charge as a rush fee; you don’t want to end up disadvantaged for peanuts, but you also don’t want to take advantage of your client either (especially if you get regular work from them!).
A good benchmark is to charge 25% more than you typically would, however you could easily charge 50% more or even double your rate depending on the urgency and how much the rush job puts you out (having to work overtime all weekend, for example).
How to Charge a Rush Fee Without Ruining Your Client Relationship
Many freelancers worry that by charging a rush fee, they’ll be putting their client off of working with them in the future.
What you need to remember, however, is that every service charges a premium rate for a faster service. Doctors, parcel deliveries, and so many other services are charged at a higher cost in exchange for a faster turnaround time or out-of-hours working, so why should you have to work differently?
What’s more, you hold the power when a client requests a rush job of you. You could easily say no if the request inconveniences you too much, so charging an additional fee and helping the client out in exchange is only fair.
The key here is to be fair, polite, and professional when discussing your rush fee. Use positive words to show you would be happy to help your client out of a difficult spot, and then state your rush fee without elaborating or apologising for it.
Your client should, after all, know that they are asking a lot of you and should expect to pay a premium as a result.
General Advice When Using Rush Fees
If charging a rush fee to a new or first-time client still worries you, some freelancers suggest letting the client know that you do have a rush fee, but you are happy to waive it as a courtesy to a first-time client.
That way, they’ll know that you do have a rush fee (and what it is) in the future, but you won’t have to risk damaging your relationship from the very first project.
Rush jobs can be a great way to bring in some extra income if your workload is a little slow, and can really build your reputation as reliable and helpful amongst your clients. It’s important to remember that your client will often come to you with a rush job stressed and desperate, so remaining calm, prompt and professional in your communication is key.
Although the additional money can be tempting, never say yes to a rush job that you can’t feasibly take on. It is not your responsibility to bend to your clients requests every time, and saying no when the time frame does not suit you is perfectly acceptable.
If you do decide to make rush jobs a part of your schedule as a freelancer, however, be sure to establish your rules early on in every client relationship in order to ensure both parties stay professional and fair to one another for future projects.