Should we charge the client?

Say you have a client who has given you thousands of $s worth of work over many years. They come back to you again and again with new projects fairly regularly.
If you have billed them for a finished project and later they come back for minor editing that takes less than 2 hours would you still charge them for it or do it on good will basis?

haha sounds quite specific. If 2 hours worth of work is a significant sum, then bill them sure. If it’s not, then don’t - If you can afford it. Over the course of however many projects you’ve done for them, do you think that somewhere in their you slacked off for a total of 2 billed hours? If you didm then don’t worry…

if you are even asking this question, it sounds like you already know the answer. if it’s a one time thing for approx. 2 hours work, and they are as good of a client as you say, of course doing it for good will is a good idea. i’d suggest to mention this instance to them, so they don’t make it a regular thing (i.e adding an extra 2 hours work after the fact to every project).


I wonder if it would even be worth sending them and invoice to show how much it would cost and then noting it as paid? Or some other way of showing that you basically threw them a bone, but that bone had value.

not a bad idea, but could be confusing. i’d also note that perhaps the way they asked for the work might be important. did they call up and ask “can you do us a favor?”, or just call and say “hey, we need XXX done?” Often, clients might not realize what’s required for the work, so they could’ve asked just thinking it was something you already had done or was available in a click of the mouse.

As long as they didn’t propose the work in a way that sounded like they were trying to get you do lots of work for free, i’d do it gratis, and just explain that “sure, we can do that. Normally, it’s a 2 hour job, but as you are a good client, we can help you out this time.” That way they get a feel for what’s involved and give you the chance to charge in future times, and helps cement your relationship in a positive way…

In my own experience, this kind of thing happens lots, and unless I’m fully stacked and would need to work overtime (which is rarely the case - very few studios are booked for 100% of hours in a week), i’ll do it, as the opportunity cost to me is nothing (i’m not doing something for free in time that I could otherwise bill out), and business is all about relationships.

best of luck. doesn’t sound too tricky to handle…


I do this sometimes with good clients, especially for project meetings that take time out of the day but I’m not actually producing. Like the guys above said, I think it’s important to remind them that your time is valuable, but calling it out as a freebie in the invoice goes a long way for the relationship. I mean, does anyone really bill exactly the hours that they work for freelance anyway? I always feel good about my compensation in the end

if you did the work for free and reminded them of the hours, it’d be another bit of satisfaction they’d have with your services and might put you out ahead in the long term. depends on the client though… whether they would take advantage and how you feel about working with them

i think it completely depends on the client. some clients expect gratis, some dont. to bring up that you did it for free can be a slap in the face, to not bring it up and they recognize it is a plus, to not bring it up and them not to recognize it i think is also a slap in the face. gotta love business.

I’d charge for it. If it really is just 2 hours of work it isn’t a lot of money and any manufacturer is making way more than you. It should not be a problem to pay you a couple hundred bucks. Remember, you are running a business, not a charity and you do not have other perks in-house employees enjoy. No bonuses, health benefits, paid vacation, sick-leave, overtime pay, etc. Even waiters get tips.

I would charge for all work I do so as to sustain a business and not make this a precedent where the client assumes and picks up a bad habit of scope creeping and adding to your work–expecting it done for free on a whim. If you start giving away things, it becomes expected and in the future they will say “but you didn’t charge for it last time.” A restaurant that ives you free soup will always have to give out the free soup because it becomes a conditioned expectation.

I used to do things for free out of good will but rarely do clients reciprocate or return the favor. It becomes accepted practice. It’s like the speed limit, if you don’t enforce people abuse it. You are not asking for anything that’s out of line. You’re providing a service. Would a bus driver let you on the bus if you’re a nickel short in change? Most of the world won’t treat you to a freebie and as designers we often have to live a feast or famine existence so don’t sell yourself short.

If you’re on the fence, I’d charge first and if they get all weird, I’d then consider reducing or giving it away depending on the vibe but always take the first step. They’ll know what the time is worth this way. Those who don’t ask for things will never get things.

or you could look at it like the crack dealer business model. First one is free, to hook you, then you gotta pay :wink:


If only h o o k e r s used this business model.

i wouldn’t see why they wouldn’t be ok with a slight fee for the two hours of work. However, if you are wanting to make sure this situation is not reoccurring than you should definitely have it written in your contract.

My .02.

I wouldn’t nickel and dime a good client.

As other people have mentioned, I would put the extra work on the invoice and highlight it as extra. My invoices always list the deliverables. Any extras I may have done, I italicize. I have had clients call me about the italics and I reply it was a deliverable that was not a part of the original proposal.

On the flip side, they are nickel and diming you if they scoff at being charged a little extra. If you don’t nip it at the but they could get used to it. McDonald’s charges for the cheese. It’s totally fair, you pay to get soemthing.

The fact that they keep coming back means you’re good. I don’t think they’d risk going to another unfamiliar designer over a couple hundred bucks.

This is an internal moral call, and can only be decided on in your own mind. It is a tough one though, I’m not knocking you for presenting the question.

Think instinctively here, that’s your best bet.

Both arguments are totally valid, both have legit answers and outcomes. Make a decision and reap the benefits of either. If you feel its the wrong one later, perfect, you can do the opposite next time.

Best of luck. Its these small decisions that become the large decisions college never prepared you for.

Thanks for the replies. I ended up sending the invoice and bought a new ipod from the $ :smiley: