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  • Are your prices negotiable?

    "Is this your best price? We'd like to work with you, but your price seems awfully high. Perhaps you'd be willing to give us a discount? I'm sure we've have other work for you after this."

    Ugh.

    When you first start your freelance programming career, you may be tempted to provide discounted rates when requested. After all, you will rationalize that some work is better than no work.

    Here is why reducing your price can hurt you:

    1) Customers will wonder if you were trying to overcharge them.

    2) This can lead to an erosion in trust.

    3) ...

  • Keep your programming skills current, or prepare to sell buggy whips

    It will be no surprise to you that technology changes rapidly. Duh. When you were working for someone else, I'll bet you were constantly telling your boss you needed more time to learn the new stuff.

    But it is much harder to set aside that time once you are running your own freelance programming business. Let's face it: time is money. And taking time off for learning stuff can feel like you are hurting your business. You have deadlines to meet (and bills to pay).

    While this kind of thinking may keep your business afloat in the short term, over ...

  • Don’t be cheap

    When I first started as freelance programmer, I positioned my business as an affordable alternative to large custom software consulting firms I had been working for. My reasoning was simple: pricing was an easy differentiator, and I had doubts that the value provided by working with a firm instead of a freelancer justified the expense of their overhead.

    This was a mistake.

    While it is definitely true that my services are less expensive than large consulting firms, I'm certainly not the cheapest alternative. I'm for sure not cheaper than a programmer in China. (And through the magic of the ...

  • What message are you sending with your pricing?

    Some programmers are surprised when I explain that I always charge by the project and never hourly. There are many reasons why I think project based fees are superior to hourly fees, but I want to focus a bit on the psychology of it.

    When I quote a fixed fee for a project, I am subtly telling my customer the following:

    I understand that each project has a certain value to you, be it in potential increased revenues or in decreased operational costs. If I charge more than that value, the project is no longer worth it the cost and ...