Freelance projects come in many forms, each with their own pros and cons. Fixed Price projects get you paid a certain amount for a given task. Milestone projects are like chunked Fixed Price projects where you’re paid every time you hit certain goals for a task. Meanwhile, hourly projects generally get you paid per hour doing a certain kind of task. As simple as that sounds, the tricky part is in finding the sweet spots for knowing the amount of work expected of you for each hour, maintaining productive efficiency, and managing multiple projects.
As with any project, you’ll start with knowing what you’re getting into and it’s usually info straight from the job listing. But with hourly projects, you know what to do but not how much of that thing to do for each hour. You may be tempted to do too little or skim along the line of doing barely enough, but that can lead to angry employers and an early termination of your services. Likewise, doing too much too fast can have you essentially earning less for the hour, so to speak. So first, you’ll want to manage output expectations with your employer up front from the get go. This way, you’ll not only have a better idea of what is acceptable for the given task, you’ll also have the opportunity to establish a good working relationship with your client.
Next, there’s usually an agreement for how many hours are billable in a given period like a week or a month. How you’d spread out those hours is usually up to you, and sometimes you may be inclined to put off working up until the end, or finish it all up early on. However, as mentioned in the first point, you still need to work within the bounds of acceptable output for the time you’re billing out. Cramming a lot of work in a shorter timespan may leave you less productive overall and you may end up working extra hours to satisfy the acceptable amount of output the client requires. The best practice at this point is to know your own limits and know how to take regular breaks to keep you at peak efficiency.
Finally, since you’re working by the hour, you may find it more lucrative to work multiple projects in overlapping periods of time. If you can handle it, and maintain the first two points mentioned earlier, that’s great! However, certain client requirements such as applications that take random snapshots of your working screen or verify the actual amount of time you’re logging into their project can hinder your ability to simultaneously work on multiple projects, and if you aren’t careful you may end up with a clients feeling cheated. Since these things are unavoidable and ultimately necessary to comply with at times, the best thing to do is to organize your timetable properly to know what you can and can’t do at the same time, and establish realistic plans to avoid crashing and burning.
All in all, Hourly Rate Projects are their own animal, and mastery in the art of taming this wild beast can be very satisfying and rewarding at the best of times. It’s a challenge of skill in time management, where learning how to squeeze out every cent you can for the time you spend working is the way to go. Just remember to maintain your integrity and ethical work standards to keep your clients happy so they always come back to you at the end of the day.