When you are a freelancer or independent consultant, you have to invoice your clients. It can be tricky to figure out the specifics of how to bill. These questions about elearning freelancer invoicing came from Deborah Rivera in response to my post about time estimates for elearning development.
Different rates for different tasks
Do you charge the same hourly rate for each task? Some require more effort than others it would seem.
I charge the same rate for everything (if I’m charging hourly). Yes, some tasks require more effort than others, but it’s still my time. Even if I’m doing tedious or repetitive work like setting up a voice over script with file names, my time is still valuable. If I’m working on those easier tasks, I can’t also spend time working on the harder tasks.
Communicating voice over expectations
You mentioned you don’t do the audio. Do you tell the client up front they are responsible for finding their own voice artist or do you find it for them and let them know it’ll be a separate charge for that voiceover artist?
Most of the time these days I do fixed price projects and include subcontracted voice over in that cost (both what I will pay a VO artist plus a fee for my time to project manage). I usually work with VO artists who charge $0.20-$0.25/word, so I can get a rough estimate based on time using 150-180 wpm and the expected final time.
Regardless of whether I charge by project or hourly, I always help the client select the voice over artist. I usually give them a few choices and let them pick who they like best. If we’re getting auditions, I manage that part of the process too.
When I charge hourly, I either pay the VO artist myself and then include that on an invoice for reimbursement, or the client pays the VO artist directly. I leave it up to the client to decide.
LMS Development. Should one just send an hourly invoice for this at the end of each development run? That’s been my approach recently as I have the hardest time scoping this bit of work out accurately.
I 100% agree that scoping LMS work is the hardest part. I have pretty good time estimates from past data on every other part of the process, but LMS work is so different from one client to the next.
Sometimes for LMS work I just send hourly invoices as we go, but I have used other structures. One option is selling blocks of hours (e.g., buy 50 hours; I’ll tell you when we use it up so you can buy more if needed). Another option is a retainer (e.g., I’ll spend up to 7 hours a week doing LMS administration for $XXXX per quarter). Retainers are probably the least common in our field, but great if you can show a client the value of doing so.
Do you have questions about elearning freelancer invoicing or costs for elearning development? Leave a comment below this post (or reply if you’re reading this in email). I’d love to do some more of these Q&A posts to directly address problems you face in your work.
eLearning Freelancer Bootcamp
We’re opening up enrollment for the eLearning Freelancer Bootcamp again. If you’re interested in learning more about the business side of instructional design and elearning freelancing, this program is for you. We talk about questions like this in our community.