How To Write Effective Quotes For Clients

A common question I get from both seasoned freelancers and beginners is how to go about writing quotes. Now, most of you know I recommend charging by the project for several reasons, the biggest being that the better you get at what you do, the more you screw yourself by charging hourly.

So many of you have wondered, if you don’t charge hourly, how do you ensure you don’t short yourself in the quote? A project quote is quite different from an hourly quote, mainly that it stays the same price from start to finish, unless the client changes the spec of the project.

Here I’ll show you some of the ways I determine the prices of the projects I charge.

Break The Project Up Into Pieces

The first thing I do before I start thinking about numbers is to break the project into pieces and list them separately. This makes it easier both for you to quote it correctly and for the client to see how much money goes into each feature (and prevents feature creep).

For example, for a typical site, I make break it up like this:

  • XHTML/CSS/WordPress
  • jQuery Homepage Slider
  • jQuery Dropdowns
  • Random Background Script
  • Custom Contact Form

It’s then a lot easier to go through the list to see how long it should take.

How Long Do You Think It Will Take?

Just because you’re not charging hourly, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an hourly rate. Every freelancer should know the minimum of money they need to charge an hour. The cool thing about project rates, is depending on how well you get the quote down, you tend to always make more that your minimum hourly rate.

So how long do you think each piece will take on it’s own? How long together?

Double The Time Of How Long You Think It Will Take

Now take that estimate of hours and double it. If you think the contact form will take you 30 minutes, it’s an hour. If you think the HTML will take you 5 hours, it’s now 10. Doubling the estimate is not about ripping the client off, and it doesn’t. It’s about covering yourself in case you go over the amount of time you thought it would take. And here’s a hint: you will.

It also covers you in case you overlooked something. I know I’m terrible about this. A client says he wants A, B, C, and D and through all of the noise and contacting, I only managed to see that he wanted A, B, and C. Now, it’s not fair to charge a client extra for D at the end of a project if I never said no to it in the first place. Padding your quote ensures you don’t get screwed over, which ensures the client has a pleasant experience with you.

Is The Client A Pain?

If the client is one who asks for a lot of revisions, emails or phones you constantly, than charge him for that privilege. In the business world, time is money and while you shouldn’t charge for every little thing, the clients who plan to take up hours a day in non-work work need to pay for taking away normally billable time. Also, if the client is argumentative, belittling or mean, charge him for the privilege to abuse you (although I would seriously think about passing him up).

How Do You Feel About The Quote?

I always find my intuition to be a good gauge of whether I’m charging too much or too little. Listen to that inside voice!

Your Tips

What are some of the ways you write your own quotes?