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I accepted a "full-time" freelance gig. Its freelance since its only 6 months and its remote and no need to go to the office. But I'm the only one who's gonna do their designs. They asked me for my rate and it was tricky for me since I'm going to be paid monthly like its a full time job.

I asked the frequency and scope of designs. I took the job and 3 weeks in, they're making me do vouchers and the frequency was more than I expected. Now they want me to do business cards. The scope of work was only posters and social media posts.

Honestly the rate wasn't THAT bad but I really wasn't expecting it to be this much. And I'm shy to confront them since honestly I'm thankful that they hired me. I'm not that experienced yet with design and its hard to get freelance clients. This one is fixed for 6 months. No hassle to source clients for me.

Here is the exact email for the scope of work:

Layouts per brand (THREE BRANDS)

  1. Menu editing – 1x every quarter (price revisions, removal of slow moving items, additional new items)
  2. Promo Posters – 1-2x monthly; resize for menu insert (optional) resize for social media, resize for tent cards, resize for creative standee, resize for poster
  3. New Branches – lamp post banners, soon to open posters, board up collateral
  4. Social media for posts – 1-2x per week
  • is it an hourly rate? Are they paying you for 8 hours a day or something? – Kilisi Nov 5 '18 at 11:36
  • @Kilisi No. I get paid monthly. – J. Mangum Nov 5 '18 at 11:38
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    on what basis? How many hours a month are you expected to work? – Kilisi Nov 5 '18 at 11:38
  • @Kilisi Don't have to complete any hours or go to their office. Just have to do their designs. Thats it. – J. Mangum Nov 5 '18 at 11:39
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    do you have a written agreement of the scope? Email at least? – Kilisi Nov 5 '18 at 11:40
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If you have a written agreement outlining the scope it's easy. You just include that with a message saying that the extra work is out of scope and giving a costing for the extra work. This is normal procedure, so do it confidently and professionally. Outline the costs and ask what timeframes they need it done in as if it was an entirely different job. Then you can move forwards when they reply.

If you don't have a written agreement, then you do the same thing. At the end of the day, you're a freelancer, not an employee. Any scope creep weakens your present and future negotiations and status.

You haven't had a payment yet and they're trying to maximise returns on their money. At this point they haven't invested much in you. If you're really nervous about losing them as a client, then wait until you have received your first payment. Once money has changed hands there is more of an investment which means you have a stronger negotiating/dispute base.

Do you think gift cards and business cards shouldn't be included on my work?

That is entirely up to your interpretation, as a freelancer you are your own boss. If something is not clear you can interpret it however you want, they can negotiate. But just taking it on the chin is a bad idea.

  • Thank you. Honestly im just really scared to confront because I might lose them and I RARELY get a freelance job like this. I'll sleep on this and think about it. – J. Mangum Nov 5 '18 at 12:01
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    If you're desperate then you just take the knocks for short term money. But in the long run you have to train yourself to be a bit mercenary about things if you expect to make a rising career out of it. If you're really nervous wait until after your first payment. Up to now they haven't invested that much in you and don't have a lot to lose by dumping you. – Kilisi Nov 5 '18 at 12:05
  • That is true. Its only been 2 weeks. But its going to be weird if I still let this happen and doesn't bring it up when it came up. I think I might do it. I just dont know how to compose my email. Actually its better to do it now while I still have a full time job – J. Mangum Nov 5 '18 at 12:07
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    Keep the email short and professional. 'Hello, X and Y are outside the scope of our original agreement and will be charged separately. Attached is a breakdown of costings. Regards..../ or ......'outside of the scope of our original agreement, please advise if you would like me to quote on them, Regards'. Personally I just quote... saves time – Kilisi Nov 5 '18 at 12:10
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    You still bring it up as additional scope; then if they say “we don’t want to pay extra for that you should just do it because” then you can decide to take it or not. But by not bringing it up at all you do yourself a great disservice. – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Nov 5 '18 at 13:30
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Since the scope has changed, this is a normal point of negotiation during freelance work. You should politely indicate that this is outside the initial scope of work and propose a few options to the client to decide. Your options, generally, are more time, more money, or remove/deprioritize other tasks.

Tactics aside, I would generally try to figure out your own accounting strategy and proceed accordingly to decide the outcome you would prefer. Since you did not do this already, this is a retroactive exercise.

For example, a simplified decision tree

  1. Hours Billed. You charged what you actually expected to work at your rate. Agreeing to a fixed periodic payment is common but it doesn't change your calculus

    a. You estimated the amount of time needed for tasks described and the rate you wanted to receive, assuming the proposed scope.

    b. This was in line with what was offered on monthly terms

    c. If the work scope changes you adjust the billable hours accordingly and provide new estimates.

  2. Retainer. You commit/reserve a certain percentage of your time to complete the tasks the client sends you.

    a. You had an understanding of commitment requested, for example 100% of your time on average on a 6 month term

    b. Based upon the percentage and your rate, you accept the a monthly payment understanding that on average your load will not exceed this commitment.

    c. Fluctuating work load on a weekly basis is part of the deal, knowing there are down weeks and up weeks.

    d. If the work scope changes permanently you adjust total time or tasks priority, alternatively you bill the overage based on additional hours worked.

In all cases you should have a general understanding of the hours required and the rate for each task (The rates can be different for different tasks, e.g. lower rate for asset processing vs creative work)

So depending on how you see yourself and the relationship with this client, I believe your options are pretty clear cut.

  1. Ask for more money (Bill hours)

  2. Ask for more time (extend contract term)

  3. Absorb the extra work if it is still worth your time (Appeasement)

  • Thank you for this detailed response. My problem is, I dont have a rate for myself. I just work around the budget of my clients. And usually I work with clients abroad so they pay much higher. And sometimes I base my rate on what they paid me previously. LIke for a business card, I'll ask for 60-70 USD. I based my rate for them like I would get from a full-time job. Because I get the same salary with my day job now and on this freelance gig. – J. Mangum Nov 6 '18 at 4:20
  • @J.Mangum This is common, many freelancers have a similar issue. This the business side of running your own shop..I would say it is never too late to start estimating rates, even if only for personal accounting. You can still justify "new business discount" for clients and work with their rates, but at the very least you should know if you are undercharging and by how much. Like you say, the easiest way is to take your salary and divide with some overhead (10-20% at least). – crasic Nov 6 '18 at 4:27
  • Note that I am really only talking about internal estimates to inform your approach, Billing/payment terms can be set based on what client prefers, but you never want to be in a position where you do not know what you expect to be paid because your client always knows what they want to pay you and it will generally always be less than what you should expect :). In otherwords if you say "it will cost X more" and they say "we can't/won't pay that" , you can decide what to do based on a sober calculation of what you need to make up on the back end (e.g. future business) – crasic Nov 6 '18 at 4:31
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Well, is it "freelance," or is it effectively "full-time work?" (Be wary of "statutory employee" territory!)

If possible, do the work, but immediately have these discussions with your client/employer. If the quality of the work that you could do, or the timeliness with which you are able to do it, would suffer, then they need to know this. Maybe they're just so happy with what you're doing that they want to give you even more to do! But – these are discussions that you need to be having directly, very soon, with them, not StackExchange.

  • I don't know what you mean by statutory employee. It is technically full time i guess? But its only for 6 months and they can extend it if they want. I can actually do the work since suddenly I have more free time. I already emailed the manager about it a week ago. She hasnt responded still. – J. Mangum Nov 10 '18 at 7:05
  • The term, "statutory employee," is defined by tax law and even has its own WikiPedia article. It has everything to do with tax withholding. – Mike Robinson Nov 12 '18 at 13:34
  • Im not american and dont live in the US so i dont think this applies to me. Anyway, she hasnt responded to my email still. But she replies to my msgs regarding revisions my past designs. I feel like their team is a bit weird like they dont msg much unlike before. I hope theyre not gonna fire me. Or im just paranoid. – J. Mangum Nov 14 '18 at 10:22

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