Ethical Charges for freelance?

I’m new to the freelance world and have some questions about what is generally considered billable time. I want to make sure I’m doing things fairly for myself and the client. If anyone would be kind enough to share your thoughts, they’d be much appreciated!

A few questions:

  1. Do you bill for time spent on project planning? Example laying out an indepth project schedule after being hired for the project. (Not initial plan for bid.)

  2. Do you bill for travel time? Example, time spent on the road to mail a package or visit a client? Do you work the time into the hourly billing?
    Then write gas expenses off at tax time?

  3. I am billing at an hourly rate. I’ve been providing ‘time estimate ranges’ for the project to give the client a ballpark figure up front. This is a new product with a new factory and many unknowns are involved. At this point I’ve underestimated the time required and am now billing for less time than I’ve actually spent to stay closer to my original quote. The good news is the client is ‘thrilled’ with the work. I have told them it’s taken more time than expected, and because the project is going very well I don’t feel too badly about billing more, but don’t want to go too far away from the original quote. Of course every situtation and client relationship is unique, if anyone has comments on how to best handle situations like this…you’re thoughts are welcome!

    Thanks! :smiley:

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines (Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines)

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Graphic Artists Guild; 11th edition (December 1, 2003)
  • ISBN: 0932102123

Gag’s site:

The Savvy Designer’s Guide To Success: Ideas and Tactics for a Killer Career
by Jeff Fisher

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: How Design Books (December 19, 2004)
  • ISBN: 1581804806

Jeff’s site:

Yes I would bill for travel time, gas, expenses. Maybe not your full design rate for that but at least half your design rate.

For example, I freelance at $75 - $100/hr. and travel and meeting I do $50/hr.
I add expenses and have receipts to prove it to them if they ask for them.

i also break out travel time and assign a lower hourly rate. in addition i place a maximum per day (in the event i’m on a 13 hr flight or something and sleeping most of the way). very common to break things down. hardest part imo is keeping your own log… accurately.

I hear that…timetracking is a bear…

If it helps at all, there are a bunch of great time tracking/billing apps for the palm and CE platform. I have one of those Samsung Palm phones (treos have all of this as well), and loaded in a time tracking app (Hourz Pro)- it keeps track of my time on the road, onsite, what it was spent on - and totals up for the week including my rate… They’re relatively inexpensive, and work great.

Good luck!

You are out of town to meet a client.
I would think you bill from the time you leave your front door until you get back to your front door if you are doing one day travel.
You live in Philly and fly to New York and back the same day.

If you stay a few days. What do you do about tips for all your meals when they are NOT on a visa bill, the bellhop, the hotel housekeeper, basically any tips you give that are in cash.