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4 Reasons Why Hourly Pricing Is Bad For Freelancers

hourly vs flat rate pricing header

When starting a new freelance career, one of the most important decisions you have to make is deciding whether to charge per project or by the hour.

This decision will determine how well you earn and how much work you have to do as a freelancer.

Both pricing methods are used by different types of freelancers, but which one should you choose?

The short answer—don’t use hourly pricing!

And here’s why.

Hourly vs Flat Rate Pricing

hourls vs flat rate

Try to imagine this scenario. You’re a freelance logo designer. It typically takes around 2-3 days for you to finish a logo design. But, you only work about 5 hours per day. Because, well you have house chose and kids to take care of.

If you charge $50 per hour, that means you’ll earn $750 for finishing a logo design in 3 days. Not bad, right?

But, what if you’re really good at what you do and you finish a logo in just 10 hours? Does that mean you only get to charge $500 even though deliver at the same quality?

Or what if it took you longer than 20 hours to find inspiration and put together the logo design, would the client be okay with paying extra?

Basically, charging by the hour punish you for being good! Veteran designer, Chris Do says it best in this video.

It Takes Away Your Freedom

takes away freedom

When you’re using hourly pricing, you are rewarded for working long hours on a project.

If you’re an efficient freelance writer who’s able to write 2 articles in an hour, you’ll have to charge a ridiculous hourly rate.

Clients will definitely get scared when you tell them your hourly rate. And when you try to convince them that you write 2 articles in one hour, they will judge you for it. They’ll think that since you write fast, your articles will end up being terrible and low quality.

This is how hourly pricing takes away your freedom. You must work a set amount of hours on a project, otherwise, you lose money. As a freelancer, this is a terrible position to be in.

Ruins Your Creativity

ruins creativity

Unlike regular office jobs, most freelance work requires creative thinking.

You can’t come up with a logo design right away. It takes a while to come up with inspiration. You can’t write a great article without doing lots of research.

Sometimes, this creative process takes longer, especially when the subject area is new to you. But, if you’re already familiar with the topic, you’ll be able to find inspiration faster.

Either way, when you’re using hourly pricing, you will only be punished.

You won’t have the freedom to take all the time you need to find inspiration. If you take longer, the client will question you.

If you’re able to find inspiration faster and finish the project early, you’ll earn less for the job.

Hourly pricing doesn’t give you any room for creativity.

You Don’t Earn More for Complex Projects

dont earn more

Not all projects are the same.

Even when you’re writing articles or designing logos, some projects will take more time.

This happens to me all the time. Even though I’ve been working as a freelance writer for many years, I still struggle to write articles from time to time.

Sometimes the topic needs more research to understand. Sometimes you’ll have to install and use specific tools and apps. Or even watch YouTube tutorials to learn more about a topic.

If you’re charging hourly, you won’t earn more for the extra effort it takes to finish the job.

You’re Always Under The Microscope

Under Microscope

If you’re working for a remote team, you will always have to use time tracking software to track your work hours.

Even if you’re a freelancer, most clients will even ask you to provide time tracking data as proof of how long it took you to complete the job.

In a way, it’s basically like working at an office. And it’s one of the reasons why I dislike the office work culture.

Hourly pricing will force you to use time tracking apps and you’ll often find yourself monitored by your client.

In Conclusion

Hourly pricing is bad for most freelancers, especially for creatives. But, it’s effective for some as well.

For example, hourly pricing is great for technical freelance work, like coding or data entry work. In fact, there are freelancers earning over $2,000 per hour in the programming industry.


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Did you find this article useful? Then you should check out my book Freelance Like A Pro. It includes 21 lessons and 5 secrets from my freelance career to help you supercharge your journey as a freelancer. Click here to learn more.

Roshan Perera
Roshan Jerad Perera is a freelance writer, blogger, and founder of His main goal is to help others get started in freelancing and guide them toward a successful career and financial freedom.
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  • Nebojsa Dolovacki Sep 11,2021 at 9:57 AM

    I am a Top Rated Plus designer at UpWork, I work mostly at a fixed price and I avoid working by the hour whenever possible. You described the reasons very well, and you are right that working by the hour kills creativity. My clients pay for the end product – book or magazine design. They do not have to worry about time, but about the quality of service they receive. Hourly work is good for certain jobs, but not for every type of job, especially creative projects.

    • Roshan Perera Sep 13,2021 at 11:09 AM

      Thanks for sharing your insights. Appreciate it.

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