When I first heard about weekly billing, I was feeling crushed by the stress of juggling multiple hourly-billed projects. I knew I wanted to transition to weekly.
I’m not going to cover the differences in detail, but weekly billing beats hourly on nearly all fronts. A few reasons weekly billing is better:
- You only have 1 project to work on at a time
- Clients are motivated to finish within the scheduled week (or have to buy another week)
- Scoping projects in weeks is much easier than hours
- No more tracking time or debates over 30 minute phone calls
The list goes on and on. If you want more evidence, see these resources:
- Stop Billing Hourly
- Brennan Dunn’s opinion on hourly
- Patrick Mckenzie’s story of growing his consulting business
It’s not easy to switch
I’ve heard of freelancers moving straight from hourly to weekly with success. This is not the norm.
Most of us have trouble when switching to weekly. I did. Here’s a few barriers you might be facing:
- Your projects are too small for weekly billing
- Your clients won’t accept the switch
- You can never free up an entire week
I was facing these same problems just 3 months ago. I knew I wanted to bill weekly, but I couldn’t make the leap.
I’d like to walk you through the ways I overcame the above challenges, in hopes you can make the transition yourself.
Switch to daily billing first
Take baby steps. Make the transition easier.
Instead of weekly, try starting with daily billing. If your projects are too small, do half-days.
Once you’ve proven that you can reliably do the work while using daily/half-daily rates, the transition to weekly is much easier.
It doesn’t have to be either/or. During your transition from daily -> weekly, offer both. Be sure to give a discount to encourage weekly. Here’s how you can pitch it to clients:
“I primarily work weekly at $2,000/week. For smaller projects, I do a daily rate of $450.”
$450/day would net $2200 per week (assuming you work 5 days per week), which makes $2000/week an attractive option for your client when a project is 3-4 days long.
Be confident in your new policy. No exceptions.
Maybe your clients don’t like the idea of paying weekly.
I don’t blame them: Suddenly they’re being asked to change from easily-measurable, granular costs (hourly) to vaguely defined, expensive, large chunks of time (weekly).
Be confident! Taking baby steps (as mentioned above) helps. Having money in the bank to live off helps.
You can break the hourly cycle.
Your work will never fit exactly into a week
Projects always have odds & ends to tie up, even when the week is over. Don’t sweat it, just account for it in your planning.
Leave enough time in every week to handle
- Cleanup from the last project
- Prep work for the next project
- Sales, proposals, etc
This means you need to scope your projects according to the time you’ll be able to commit to them. You won’t be 40 hours a week heads-down in a project, even when it’s the only project for the week. Leave yourself some breathing room.
How to set a weekly rate
Assuming you’ve never billed weekly before, here’s how I’d recommend starting out:
$daily_rate = 4.5 x $hourly_rate;
$weekly_rate = 20 x $hourly_rate;
Let’s plug in a number. Assume your hourly rate is $100:
Your daily rate can start at 4.5 x $100 = $450.
Your weekly rate can start at 20 x $100 = $2000.
Make the transition
Weekly billing won’t work for everyone, nor will it work for every project. If weekly isn’t possible, you can get many of the same benefits by billing daily.
If you’re billing hourly, try something new. I think you’ll love it, and you might be surprised how well it works (and how open your clients are).