Author Topic: Please help a newbie freelancer  (Read 1270 times)

firelight

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Please help a newbie freelancer
« on: September 30, 2016, 10:29:22 AM »
Hi MMMers,

I'm a newbie freelancer and have been developing apps in Android for family and friends. Now an acquaintance wants me to develop an app for her website and wants to pay me for it. However I'm not sure how to price it. I estimate it'll take 100+ man hours to get the app up and running in a polished manner.

1) how do you price your freelance work for app development?
2) what contracts should I have in place before accepting this work?
3) how does the payment process work? PayPal? Or check?
4) do you get an advance before starting work and then get the reminder once it's done? Or in stages?
5) Hers is a subscription based model and I estimate it might have ongoing maintenance and app update work too. How should I price it?
6) how and when do you hand over the completed code?
7) in case of disagreement, how does the mediation and resolution process work?

Any tips when starting freelance/contracting work would be great. Please share your experiences as well as reputable places to find more opportunities.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Please help a newbie freelancer
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2016, 02:04:14 PM »
I don't have any advice on pricing, but I would strongly recommend you write up an agreement.

-Outline the scope of work, required features, timeline
-Specify how changes to the scope of work should be communicated/executed
-Specify payment schedule and method (50/50? Milestones? Whatever you two agree to really)
-Specify how disagreements will be handled
-Costs and terms for ongoing maintenance (yearly contracts? month-to-month?)
-Copyright ownership (freelancers own their work unless they transfer or agree to "work for hire")

You don't necessarily need to involve a lawyer, but it's never a bad idea, especially if you're talking about a substantial amount of money. Do some Googling for sample business contracts, and see if anything jumps out at you.

mxt0133

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Re: Please help a newbie freelancer
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2016, 02:29:55 PM »
I used to work for a consulting company and was involved with drafting the work agreement, estimates, milestones, definition of done, and maintenance agreements.

To give an example of a typical engagement.  The company would provide us with a request for proposal.  Which is a high level document of what the company wants done and by when.  We would then give them our best guess estimates and possible road map based on the level of detail the company gave us.

From there if the company is fine with the initial estimates, we would then agree on a working agreement that lists out pay rate, billing frequency, and expectations from the client.  This would be for the whole engagement.  To be clear this just sets up working agreement and no work has been committed to yet or contract signed.  At this point we are not billing the client yet.

We would then enter a planning stage which could range from 2-4 weeks.  This is where we start billing because we are gathering the detailed requirements, defining milestones, attending client meetings, creating some wire frames, flow charts, use cases, ect.  This is where we try to determine what the customer really needs vs what they think they want.  At the end we provide another set of estimates and a project plan.  If the client approves we start.

Depending on the client the rate is negotiable if they want it done at an hourly rate, where they can call of the engagement at any point or based on milestones where they agree to commit to larger chunks of work and can only stop at specific points on the project.

As for maintenance, we normally agree to a specific window after the hand off date where we address any issues that might come up or modifications at a set rate for a set period of time.  Say for X dollars up to Y hours of work after Z weeks of hand off.  From there any long term maintenance that the client wants done is typically a set rate with a minimum number of hours per engagement.   So if the client wants to add some functionality and the amount of work is below the minimum number of hours we bill up to the minimum.  This prevents the client from asking for small changes every other week and allows the developers to commit to other projects.

joeypants

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Re: Please help a newbie freelancer
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2016, 03:24:53 PM »
Hi! I have a day job as an Art Director and Sr. Designer (www.natehinners.com) in an advertising agency, but sometimes take on extra freelance work. So I'm not a developer, but I get the idea of freelance creative work (which includes coding, to me). Here are some thoughts based on my experiences, but by all means seek additional answers beyond mine!

1) how do you price your freelance work for?
For design, it depends on the project, but I would probably price a dev project hourly. That rate depends on your experience and efficiency, of course. I will usually charge $100/hour, but that's a rate that comes with a lot of experience. For some types of projects and clients, I'll charge a flat project fee. If you're new and still learning the ins and outs of coding, I might consider a flat fee for the sake of your client's wallet and getting hired by them again in the future.

2) what contracts should I have in place before accepting this work?
Oh boy. Absolutely get a signed contract that clearly details the scope of the work, what is and is not included, number of rounds of revisions, guidelines for canceling or dissolving the project, and an estimated timeline to delivery (including check-ins, if necessary). This is absolutely one of the most important parts of the entire process.

3) how does the payment process work? PayPal? Or check?
You are the one doing the work, so ask for whatever method works best for you.

4) do you get an advance before starting work and then get the reminder once it's done? Or in stages?
Don't start working until you get paid something. I usually ask for half up front, and the second half upon project completion. Doing that ensures that you still get paid something if they pull out of the project or cancel it while you're in the middle of it.

5) Hers is a subscription based model and I estimate it might have ongoing maintenance and app update work too. How should I price it?
Great question. I would give her a choice: Either a flat retainer fee, with the contractual caveat that updates are based upon your availability, or a per-update fee that is fair to you and the rest of what you have going on in your life.

6) how and when do you hand over the completed code?
I can't answer this with any authority since I'm not a developer. But I'm not 100% this is necessary, though. Code, like design work, is copyrighted by the act of creation. I would never hand over working files, just final files for something like a logo. In which case, I make sure to charge enough to be comfortable with giving the client usage rights to my copyrighted work in perpetuity.

7) in case of disagreement, how does the mediation and resolution process work?
I've never had a severe enough disagreement to warrant outside help, but typically these things (non-payment, extremely late payment, copyright infringement) are handled in small claims court. But only as a last resort.

Hope that helps a little! I'll be happy to talk further and answer any further questions you might have. The best way to reach me is through my website, linked to at the beginning of this post.