August 5, 2004 15:56 | Bits / WebTech

Flexible rate experiment

Some context: I do freelance web specialist work: web design, architecture, etc...

I'll often take on small jobs for extra disposable income (or paying off the debts incurred from thinking I have disposable income... heh.) You know, those little brochure-type websites: "Hi, this is our little company, this what we do, this is how you can contact us." Yeah people still want those. Anyways.

Invariably we do the "how much is this gonna cost" dance. I severely suck at this dance. especially since these contracts usually come through acquaintances who don't want to insult me (with their deflated sense of value) or I them (with my inflated sense of the value of my time... ;) For this kind of work, the clients usually rather a package price, one figure, easy to swallow, no time tracking. Invariably I do way more than what I'm paid for but at least everyone is happy.

Just now I had to dance again. A return client who wants a redesign. Super nice guys, developing a product with some very interesting environmental implications (think carbon filters). "How much" says he. "How much you got" says I. "I'm thinking between $X and $Y... don't wanna insult you..." "Don't be silly!"

Here is what I suggested:

I am perfectly able and happy to stay within that range.
I am thinking of a very "organic", "sensitive to my environment" approach to this job. It is perfect that you give me a range. I have an idea, if you are comfortable with this, here is what I suggest:
Think of a gauge, like an RPM gauge. As the work progresses, the "revs" will fluctuate between X and Y. Without necessarily being mathematical about it, I'll average out a final price as we get to the end. Agreed it seems a bit arbitrary, but then again not... we have a set range that we are both comfortable with, and an unclear amount of hours/work.

Now, I wouldn't do this with just any client, but I think he may go for this. And I'll feel better than just saying "Ok, I'll take $Y..."

It's an experiment.