Tips based on many years of freelancing
Understand why clients hire you
It’s not because you design beautiful apps or write well. But because they have a problem that needs to be fixed, low sales - launch of a new product - improve productivity, and you can help them with your skill set. Communicate you understand this and gear your solution towards the outcome. This moves the conversation to improving their business.
You might not want to bill hourly.
You focus too much on the input side and are more likely to track everything in detail. Ideally bill per week, or per day if the project is smaller. You can also bill per project. This can be more tricky because the scope might change during the project. And most important, never negotiate your rate. Instead, see how you can limit the project scope while still solving the problem.
Use a contract for every project, no matter how small.
A good contract does not have to be 40 pages or difficult to read. You prevent misunderstanding, set expectations and you’re simply being a professional.
Never start without one. I recommend working with a 50% down payment before starting the project. With larger projects you could have multiple milestones. Some (larger) organisations might even do a 100% down payment in exchange for a small discount, they often have rules in place to favour such terms.
Following these “rules“ lead me to great clients who trust me, are great to work with, and pay a fair rate. Some of this might sound too “consultancy” for you, and that’s okay :) But please, don’t undercharge and be unhappy as a result.