Freelancers' Questions: What if the job takes less time than I quoted?

Freelancer’s Question: What is the proper course of action to take when the work agreed for a client takes less time than the freelancer estimated?

I quoted ‘X’ days to complete the work but now find it will be finished before then. Surely the tendency is to be honest and only ever invoice for work done? But, as I'm mostly doing written consultancy, I am tempted to pad out the work and provide additional words to fill the time allocated.

Expert’s Answer: I think honesty is always the best policy and it will earn you good favour in future.

Other freelancers may well disagree but, if I were you, I would let the client know that the work so far has taken less time than anticipated. As a result, you could either invoice for less accordingly or use the remaining time to update the piece – might they, for example, want any amends or additions once they have looked over the work?

I definitely would recommend against padding the writing out for the sake of it as this could unnecessarily reduce the quality of your work.

In future, however, you may wish to consider quoting a flat-rate project fee rather than telling the client that your fee is based on hours. Remember, you are not just charging for your time but also your level of skill.

The expert was Sarah Wray, an independent editor with five years’ experience as a freelance writer.


Feb 26, 2013
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