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demtron
Community Member

Best way to handle fixed price job when the job clearly states that the work needed is ongoing?

I frequently see jobs listed where it requests a fix bid amount, but the job description clearly states that the work is ongoing, it will be for 1-3 months or longer, and there's no definitive statement of work.  I hesitate to respond to these because I'm not even sure the client knows what they're asking for.

 

If I point out that the discrepancy exists, I risk offending the client.  They may also think that the Upwork platform wasn't clear about how suggest a rate for ongoing work.

 

If I just respond with any old amount, I'm likely to be ignored.

 

How are other freelancers handling job posts like this?  Hae you beed successful landing the client after an interview discussion?

15 REPLIES 15
moonraker
Community Member

I'm not sure I've understood the question, but... a fixed price means a predetermined price for a set amount of work.

I'm a writer. If somebody wants 1,000 words - I want them to pay me $100. That's a fixed price, but the job can go on for months, even years, with them asking me to write many articles at $100 each. It doesn't mean they pay me $100 for x amount of time. It means they pay me $100 for every 1,000 words I write for as long as I work with them. 

If you're not able to put a figure on a set amount of work before starting, it's best to ask for an hourly contract. 

My work is in software development, so using a model like X dollars for Y lines of code won't be accurate at all.  I do see how this works well for article writing.

 

The whole fixed price vs. hourly rate debate is a longstanding concern in software development.  The more I can control the scope defintion, the more likely it is that I can provide a fixed bid.  It's seems difficult to broach that topic up front.

prestonhunter
Community Member

Just turn these onto hourly jobs.

 

That is what I do. I routinely get invited to fixed-price jobs, or send proposals to fixed-price jobs, which I am willing to work on, but only using an hourly contract.

 

Maybe that strategy won't work for everyone. I don't know. But if a client has a chance to hire me, he probably has looked at other candidates as well and knows he wants me on the job. Compared to getting their choice of freelancer, the choice of contract model (hourly/fixed-price) is of secondary importance to most clients who I talk to.

Can you please expound upon your defintion of "juse turn these into hourly jobs?"

 

From what I can tell, there's no way to provide an hourly rate on a job posted as a fixed price gig.  Ideally, I'd like to do that and state why I'm submitting an hourly rate.  Are you suggesting that I respond with a bogus fixed-price number then explain in the comments that I'm proposing an hourly rate?  Or something else?

 

Thanks for your help.

John, I tell the client to create an hourly contract and click the Hire button,

 

I did that yesterday. It's fine. Some clients won't go along with this. Most clients just want to get the work done. They don't care about what contract model is used.

 

re: "Are you suggesting that I respond with a bogus fixed-price number then explain in the comments that I'm proposing an hourly rate?"

 

That is what I do. But I do not use a bogus number. I put in my real hourly rate.

 

re: "From what I can tell, there's no way to provide an hourly rate on a job posted as a fixed price gig."

 

Yes, there is. There is a field where freelancers enter a dollar amount. I just type in my hourly rate. Look at my profile. Around 25% of my jobs started that way.

Yes, there is. There is a field where freelancers enter a dollar amount. I just type in my hourly rate. Look at my profile. Around 25% of my jobs started that way.

 

Do you mean that in that milstone box, do you tye a descriptionn with your hourly rate and send tot he cient with the cover letter?

re: "Do you mean that in that milstone box, do you type a descriptionn with your hourly rate and send to the client with the cover letter?"

 

Yes.

That is great. Thanks!


John D wrote:

Can you please expound upon your defintion of "juse turn these into hourly jobs?"

 

From what I can tell, there's no way to provide an hourly rate on a job posted as a fixed price gig.  Ideally, I'd like to do that and state why I'm submitting an hourly rate.  Are you suggesting that I respond with a bogus fixed-price number then explain in the comments that I'm proposing an hourly rate?  Or something else?

 

Thanks for your help.


The client can see your hourly rate on your profile, so he should not be surprised when you charge that. But generally speaking, a proposal is (sometimes) just a start of a conversation. The terms can and should be negotiated. You will learn to read between the lines, though. If it appears the client has no idea what he is talking about, how much work will go into the project, then you might skip the posting altogether. These clients seem to turn into a headache later. Not in my niche, though, since there are usually not many discussions about translating a text. 

tlsanders
Community Member

Is it a type of work that can be broken into predictable units? For instance, as a writer, I respond in that situation with a bid that includes $X per blog post of 600-800 words as one milestone and $Y per web page of 1,000-1,200 words (or whatever is appropriate to the project).

 

That way, I don't need to know what all they're looking for. I tell them what one blog post costs and that's true whether they ask me to write one or 100.


Tiffany S wrote:

Is it a type of work that can be broken into predictable units?


My work is in software development.  For small projects, the work could be broken into predictable units.  Frequenty, the client has no idea how to do this, the quality of the code that needs enhancement (if it's an existing project), what aspects of their existing code need fixing/testing to make their new request work, and many other factors that go into software development.  Yet, the client places fixed price on the job.

 

As the expert in this field, I know how to ask questions and evaluate a project to the point where I can offer a fixed price I can stand behind.  The challenge is getting to that point with the client where we can have a conversation about these factors.  Asking these questions in a proposal  almost never elicits a response.

gilbert-phyllis
Community Member

If a job post provides enough info for me to determine it's likely a very good fit for my capabilities, then I submit a proposal regardless of the contract type specified. If it asks for a fixed-price bid and I need more details to scope it or I think an hourly contract would suit better, I create a proposal using placeholder milestones. If the post specifies an hourly contract and I think a fixed-price bid would be more appropriate, I say that in the cover letter (including why). IME clients who are a good fit for my practice are open to discussing terms as part of the scoping discussion, and exploring the arrangement that's optimal for both parties.

 

I've tried a variety of methods to address the issue, and I've felt that adding the placeholder milestone would be an inoffensive way to suggest that more conversation is needed.  I'll add a description like "Placeholder bid pending further scope identification" and go on the explain that a no-obligation consultation is in order so that we can compose a detailed statement of work.  It hasn't been effective in landing an interview, though.

tlbp
Community Member


John D wrote:

I frequently see jobs listed where it requests a fix bid amount, but the job description clearly states that the work is ongoing, it will be for 1-3 months or longer, and there's no definitive statement of work.  I hesitate to respond to these because I'm not even sure the client knows what they're asking for.

 

If I point out that the discrepancy exists, I risk offending the client.  They may also think that the Upwork platform wasn't clear about how suggest a rate for ongoing work.

 

If I just respond with any old amount, I'm likely to be ignored.

 

How are other freelancers handling job posts like this?  Hae you beed successful landing the client after an interview discussion?


Step 1 is to assess the client's communication style based on the gig post. Do they present as having enough knowledge to negotiate a contract that is clear in scope?

 

Step 2 is to decide a unit based price for the type of work being requested (or the type of work you beleive is being requested based on the post.) You can do this by converting your hourly rate to units or simply use your hourly rate if your work does not convert well. (e.g., I know from past experience that it takes me 4 hours per 1000-words to create a certain type of content. If the client is interested in that type of content, I can convert my hourly rate to 1000-word units to make a fixed price bid.)

 

If you are comfortable with Steps 1 and 2, then the next step is to communicate with the client by making a proposal. Fixed price contract proposals allow you to set milestones, so you can indicate you per unit price as a milestone. Or, you can in fact,* throw in any somewhat random number and mention in your proposals that you are available for an hourly rate of X or a per unit rate of Y.   

 

 

*Your initial question is based on the assumption that you will ignored. I have not found this to be true. It is true that telling a prospective client that they are "doing it wrong" might annoy them. However, there are ways to introduce pricing options without pointing out errors. 

 

demtron
Community Member


Step 1 is to assess the client's communication style based on the gig post. Do they present as having enough knowledge to negotiate a contract that is clear in scope?

 

 


My work is in software development and I'm experienced in all aspects of scope identification, project estimating, planning, management.  I can say that less than 3% of all my client contacts have the skills/experience needed even suggest a fixed price let alone write a scope definition to support that price.  I think that percent might be even lower for jobs posted on Upwork.

 

Perhaps it's more of a numbers game on Upwork.

 

For example, I landed a project with another client outside of Upwork.  They found me through my online ads.  The client's initial email to me was arrogant, stating that their work would be quick work for "anyone proficient in databases" and also less than an hour for someone "who knows what they're doing."  Fine, whatever.  I'll take a swing at this one.

 

A 60 minute phone conversation and multiple emails later, they accepted 8 hours at my full rate and they're elated with the result.

 

I know that one big difference with Upwork is that I may not be the only freelancer being vetted.  I go through the same routine - placeholder bid, "I'd like to know more about the project to provide an accurate no-to-exceed quote", "we can explore an hourly rate is you prefer that", etc. 

 

And then, crickets.  I could be the first freelancer responding or the 30th.  The job isn't awarded.  No interviews or maybe a couple.  If I can get the client to 1st base (i.e., an interview), I feel that I have a reasonable shot winning the project on my terms.  But, the interview is never granted.

 

I've been able to land a few jobs with this approach.  It just feels like a lot of work to put in for the little results I've gotten - hence a numbers game.

 

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