How do freelancers charge?

There are lots of different ways that freelancers can charge for their services, and no two freelancers are the same. There are many different factors that determine how a freelancer works out how to charge a project. Even the type of project can affect the way it’s charged. And, sometimes a freelancer can use a mix of different methods to charge for a project.

The way a project is charged usually depends upon the size of the project and the industry the freelancer works in. An illustrator could have an entirely different way of charging to that of a web developer.

The worst thing you can do is to assume you’re paying on completion of the project, only to find out your freelancer requires an upfront deposit before work starts. So, it’s best to check how your freelancer charges before you start working together.

Here’s a quick guide to the main ways to charge for a freelance project:

Charging by the hour.
Charging by the hour.

Per Hour:

Some freelancers charge an hourly rate. You’re more likely to be charged by an hourly rate if your project is a particularly large one, ongoing work, or if there’s no set finishing date.

Hourly rates differ depending on the type of industry your freelancer works in and depending on their particular skill level. You would expect the hourly rate of a junior to be less than that of a senior or middleweight.

Per-hour payments can be paid either at the end of a project or incrementally such as every month or 2 weeks. Discuss with your freelancer what works best for you and your project.

Charge per project.
Charge per project.

Per Project:

You may find that your freelancer will charge you a one-off fee for your project. This means you’ll only pay one flat fee for your project, no matter how long it takes. This fee may or may not include revisions, so check with your freelancer first.

Being charged per project is good if your project is small to medium and a one-off piece of work.

Our article will give you more detail about paying per hour versus paying per project.

Milestone payments:

Your freelancer may suggest implementing milestone payments for your project. Milestone payments mean you pay your freelancer a certain percentage of their fee when project milestones are achieved. For example, if you have a particularly large project, instead of paying your freelancer in one big chunk when the project is completed, with milestone payments your freelancer gets paid a set amount when they complete each small chunk of the project.

This method of charging is particularly good when you have a big project. It means your freelancer is getting money regularly (hey, they’ve got bills to pay too!), and you are frequently receiving completed work.

Milestones are also great if (in the unlikely event) your freelancer can’t finish the project. If your freelancer has to stop halfway through, you already have all the work they’ve done up to that point, and the freelancer has received all the money owed to them. So there are no disputes about overpayment or handing over completed work.

Freelancer lyfe.


Freelancers often ask for a deposit upfront, before work begins. If your freelancer asks you for this, don’t be affronted. It’s the freelancer’s way of safeguarding themselves against non-payment or the client bailing on them. Unfortunately, every freelancer will have this happen to them at least once in their career.

Deposits will vary depending on the size and scope of your project. Some freelancers will ask for a percentage of the total fee (50% is common), others will ask for an amount of the total fee to be deposited such as $100. Whatever the amount, it will be knocked off your final bill.

Willingly putting forward a deposit shows that you are genuine and committed to your project. It will help build trust and a good working relationship with your freelancer.


Sometimes called amends or changes, revisions are suggested changes that are to be made to the project once it’s finished. Sometimes, these changes fall outside of the original project specification, and therefore freelancers charge extra for them.

It’s very important to get your freelancer to explain their policy on revisions before you start working together. If you’re being charged an hourly rate for your project, it’s most likely that your freelancer will also charge an hourly rate for revisions too. However, it may be different from the one you’ve already been paying.

If you’re paying per project, check with your freelancer to see if revisions are included in this fee, or charged as extra. If you’ve paid per project, revisions could be charged at an hourly rate.

Freelancers often have a separate hourly rate that they charge for revisions. Some freelancers will only agree to do a set number of changes. So it really is best to check.

Our article on revisions delves deeper into the world of revisions, amends and changes.

Working out how to charge.

How do freelancers charge for a single project?

If your project is a one-off, you might wonder what’s the best way to charge for it. You’ll probably find that your freelancer will suggest an all-inclusive fee for that one project.

Per project, charges work best for small to medium one-off projects. Your freelancer will give you a quote for the work involved and should outline how any potential revisions will be charged. For example, are revisions included in the cost or charged separately?

If your one-off project is large, your freelancer may suggest an hourly rate as this works better for them in the long run. Again, find out whether revisions are charged at this same rate or a different one.

How do freelancers charge for ongoing work?

If you have a project that’s ongoing, your freelancer might suggest charging by an hourly rate. This means they will probably charge you regularly (monthly or weekly), rather than at the end of the project.

Hourly rates work better than one-off project fees for ongoing work. Firstly, your freelancer gets paid more regularly. If your project is ongoing, you can’t expect your freelancer to wait until the project is finished to receive its fee.

The longer the project goes on, the harder it is to estimate a one-off lump sum fee. Especially if deadlines are hazy, or additional project requirements may be thrown in further down the line. So, for this reason, hourly rates are better for ongoing work.


After studying English Literature at university, Vicky decided she didn’t want to be either a teacher or whoever it is that writes those interminable mash-up novels about Jane Austen and pirates, so sensibly moved into graphic design.

She worked freelance for some time on various projects before starting at Twine and giving the site its unique, colourful look.

Despite having studied in Manchester and spent some years in Cheshire, she’s originally from Cumbria and stubbornly refuses to pick up a Mancunian accent. A keen hiker, Vicky also shows her geographic preferences by preferring the Cumbrian landscape to anything more local.