How to Stop Getting Nickel and Dimed

If you’re a new freelancer trying to get web design clients and you finally land a small project but find you’re getting hassled over your fees and the work you’ve done, you’ve probably fished up a bottom feeder. 

 Bottom-feeders are the clients that are rarely ever happy, will penny pinch you for every second of design work you do. They tend to focus on how much they can extract out of you instead of working together with you to do the project right.

 Four ways to help avoid this:

 1. Quote higher amounts.

 Cheap clients give you a harder time. Clients who pay more don’t. It’s odd and you would figure the opposite (pay more fuss more), but the reality is, the clients that pay more are easier to work with and don’t hassle over little things.

2. Give a contract and quote a fixed fee.

 A contract binds the two of you more strongly than not having one. This gives you a higher chance of getting paid in a timely manner. Also, a fixed fee will help you avoid bickering over time spent and cost per hour.

 Yes, this is a small project, but you should have a ready simple contract for hourly work or small projects that you can easily whip up and customize with minimal effort.

 3. Get 50% up front.

 Unless you trust your client 100% to pay, get part of the fee up front. 50% is common. If the project falls through, say the client isn’t happy or you have to cancel it, at least you have some money to pay for your time spent.

 If you’ve got cahonas, make the 50% deposit non-refundable.

 If you have big cahonas, ask for all up front by offering a discount of 10% for paying in full.

 4. Clarify revision limits.

 Clarify the revision limits. Limit the revisions to a fixed number. Three is common. This will help the client focus and give you good feedback so you can make effective revisions.

 5. Get design inputs.

 By design inputs, I mean examples of other sites or designs he likes, the feel he wants to give off, a stock image that he feels good about, and colors he wants.

 This helps me hit the design on the nose the first time. Rarely do I do revisions. Most of the time I’m just tweaking the first design.  

 And while it’s true, I’m the designer, it’s also true that I’m not a mind reader. I look at the designer’s job as the job of eliciting from the client what he or she wants (their vision) PLUS good web design practices (my input).

 Remember, bottom feeders are blood-thirsty beasts. Follow the above techniques in your web design business and you will be able to enjoy heaven-sent clients who pay what you ask for. 



  1. Daquan Wright · September 6, 2011 Reply

    Wow, I agree so much.

    I recently had a project that payed about 4 times as much as my first clients (it’s chump change, lol).

    Still in the learning phase myself, but when clients think web design/development isn’t worth money, they tend not to be worth working with because they don’t understand the value of what we offer.

    It’s been said that pros in other fields have their fees/prices and that’s that, because they are proven (some have degrees, like doctors). We just need to prove ourselves and stand our ground. No one will believe in our worth if we don’t ourselves.

    • Kenn Schroder · September 7, 2011 Reply

      Hey Daquan.

      Set fees would be nice. Just got some dental work done and I pondered the same thing as I paid the nice bill.

      “they don’t understand the value of what we offer” … what I’ve found to work is to a combination of things that gets me clients who do understand the value of what I offer – partly because what I offer is based on what they value and part of it is getting the better clients to see what I do.

      Tricky stuff – sorta flipping it around.

      Great to have your comment here.

  2. Kim Juul · February 1, 2013 Reply

    I couldn’t agree more …. it doesn’t matter from what country the client comes from, the smaller the pay the more fuzz you will receive. As a newcomer to the web design business, I tend to give too much discount (just finished working on a complete customized webshop for $100) and sofar it has taken more than a week of full time hours (sometimes 12-16 hours per day). The customer is one of those who doesn’t have a plan or anything, so several times a day I get emails like; “could you do “

    • Kenn Schroder · February 4, 2013 Reply

      Hey Kim. Thanks for chiming in. “Fuzz” what a great word! 100 bucks / 50 hours is $2/hour … not sure how far that goes in your country. 😉 Yeah … gotta really stop getting Nickeled and Dimed.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.