Call Policy for Freelancers: Why I charge differently for calls than for doing the work.

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For a long time (years, honestly), I’ve been meaning to put a call policy in place for my freelance work. I’m an introvert, and I chose web development as a career because it doesn’t require a ton of face to face interaction. But clients would inevitably request calls, and sometimes there is genuinely a need for them. So it became clear that I needed to put in place my own version of a call policy for freelancers.

Why calls are different than other freelance work:

I’m able to keep my rates low because the hours are so flexible. And, I can build your website in my pajamas from my couch. However, when clients want to schedule calls with me, that requires me to rearrange my whole day and fit in something at a specific time. It disrupts my workflow (and entire day, really). It slows me down on their own project, but also on the other projects I’m working on. My hourly rate of $70/ hour might seem like a lot at first glance. But, when it’s $35 for a 30 minute call that disrupts my whole day and costs me more than that in lost time on other projects, it’s just not worth it.

The other issue is that most of the time, calls are completely unnecessary. I would say 90% of my clients never request a single call. And yes, they are all super happy with their websites and the workflow that got them there. There’s Upwork messages, Loom, email, Google Docs, and a million other ways to communicate. It’s just not necessary any more to have a video chat at the same exact time. Plus, the other formats have the added bonus that we can both go back and review them as many times as needed. I often watch Loom videos 2-3 times or reread emails probably 10+ times to make sure I got all of the details. That way I know my clients will be super happy with the work. That’s just not possible with a video call, unless you record and rewatch the entire thing (and let’s be honest, no one does that!).

Even beyond the scheduling, video calls are much more intensive and often include more consulting and higher level knowlege. That knowledge is often compensated for other freelancers at 10x (or more!) my regular hourly rate. Again, I’m able to keep my regular rate low because I work on larger projects and can be flexible with my schedule and workflow. It’s a discounted rate because clients are essentially purchasing a bulk number of hours for their projects. But if someone is requesting more consulting and team meetings, that’s a very different type of work and that work should come with a different compensation rate.

So, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I’ve consulted with my other, very wise, freelancer friends. Therefore, I’ve decided to set some new policies in place around calls.

How I handle potential client calls (interviews):

Prior to offering or signing a contract, I sometimes do calls with potential clients. When potential clients request that I ‘jump on a call’ with them, I offer them two options:

I offer two types of client calls, so just let me know which one you need: 

1. Unbilled 10-15 minute interviewcall: This is for if you would like to ‘interview’ me for your project.  These are not meant to be consulting calls, or for me to give specific advice on your project. They are for asking questions about my work flow, experience, communication style, etc. to see if we’d work well together on this project. In other words, they are interview calls, not consulting calls. Please be aware that I’m unable to give specific consulting advice on these free calls.

Typically, these kinds of calls only make sense for projects with budgets over $1,000.  If you have a smaller project, a video interview is not generally necessary, as you can feel free to ask me whatever interview questions you need to via Upwork messaging. Also, please be aware that these kinds of calls generally do not get priority scheduling, as I do have a pretty steady stream of projects mostly lined up in advance, so you may have to wait a little longer for availability. 

2. Call billed at my hourly call rate (currently $100/ hour):  Only for projects on which I’ve already accepted a contract. This is to discuss details of the projects, give updates to team members, join your team meetings, listen to feedback, clarify ideas, give consulting advice, explain things, provide tutorials, ask specific questions about your project, etc. I’m happy to schedule these calls at your convenience as part of your contract. If you’d like to consult with me about your project before deciding whether or not to hire me as a freelancer, we can do a trial contract just for a consultation call.

How I handle calls during a contract:

This is my video call policy, effective January 1, 2024:

>Call Rate: During a contract, I’m happy to schedule calls as requested. My fee for calls is $100/ hour, which is likely different from your regular hourly contracted rate.

>Minimum: The minimum length for a video call is one hour. Calls may be shorter than an hour, but will still be billed for the full hour. This is because of the need to schedule ahead of time.

>Late Arrivals: If you join your call late, within the first 10 minutes, the clock starts from the agreed upon meeting time, not from when the call is joined. If I join the call late (has never ever happened!), the clock starts from when I join and I will add an extra 10 minutes to the hour call as a courtesy.

>Grace Period: There is a 10 minute grace period from the agreed upon start time for the client to join the call. After that time, the call will be considered ‘missed.’ The full hour will be billed and the call will need to be rescheduled. 

>Cancellations: The charge for the call will be added to your account 24 hours before the call. If you cancel or reschedule with less than 24 hours notice, or you do not show up for your call, you will still be billed for that hour. You can reschedule your call and you will be billed for a new call.

>Prep Work: You will be billed your regular, agreed upon rate (not the call rate) for any necessary work done to prepare or follow up from our call. This might include doing prep work to set up for the call, reviewing your project to be ready to discuss it, or writing down notes and sending follow up messages directly after the call. If your call is less than an hour long and I’m able to get all of those tasks done within the hour, you may not be billed for this work.

If you have any questions at all, please reach out to me via my contact page or Upwork profile, and I’m happy to discuss my policies.

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