It’s no secret that I prefer to work on a time and materials basis. When I work t&m I like to use a sliding rate. The actual rate a client gets charged slides up and down the scale based on my current commitments and the urgency of the clients project. Need the project done in a hurry? Well, slide the bar closer upwards, you can be more flexible about the delivery date? Well, slide back down. This flexibility makes it easier to schedule more projects into my pipeline as I can fit in the less urgent projects in and around the more urgent work.
It’s not just good for me though. The sliding scale has obvious benefits for my clients. They can get more bang for their buck if they are prepared to be a bit more patient. In addition, the sliding scale encourages clients to come forward with their requirements earlier in the game, rather than at the last minute. This makes it much more likely that things will go smoothly as it allows for requirement changes (which are difficult in tight time-frames) and for a more sensible testing / fix phase at the end of the project.
Having a sliding rate really helps me to smooth out the peaks and troughs that seems to be a recurrent problem for many freelancers and make for a more sane working day. If you’re a freelancer and you don’t have a sliding hourly rate, why not give it a go? With any luck you’ll experience the benefits first hand.