If you are in a line of work where you are required to put together estimates for how much your services will cost, it can be a bit nerve-wracking. Sure, it is just an estimate, and it is not meant to be the definitive cost, but you want it to be as close as possible, lest you risk some very unhappy clients, and unfavorable reviews of your service.
No matter what goes into putting together your estimate, it is important you present it in the proper form. If you are in need of a template, you can find many online that will not even cost you anything, such as the aynax.com free online estimate template. You want your estimate to look professional, or you risk creating an unfavorable impression, and that can be hard to overcome.
Give Estimates Early On in Communications
Don’t invest a lot of time in communication with a potential client before putting together an estimate. While you may need to have some preliminary conversations to get an idea of their needs and put together an estimate, waiting too long will increase the sense of ‘commitment’ and you may cave to unreasonable haggling. Do it as early as possible, and if it isn’t right for either of you, you can walk away with minimal wasted time.
Don’t Forget about Any 3rd Party Costs
If you are like many businesses, you rely on other vendors to provide goods and services that are necessary for successfully producing your own. When putting together estimates, don’t make the mistake of overlooking any of these costs, lest you put together an inaccurate estimate that may leave you performing the job at a loss rather than a profit.
Double Check Formulas
If you are using formulas in software programs to put together estimates for your services, it is crucial you double check that everything is being calculated properly. If you add in a piece of information and it not being properly incorporated, for example, you are sending off an inaccurate estimate to your client. And, it can be a very uncomfortable conversation to have to tell your client he needs to pay more; there is a good chance you will end up eating these costs, unless of course there is a dramatic difference that cannot be ignored. But, again, this will result in a very unhappy customer, or perhaps him turning him into a non-customer. So be careful.
Deciding Between an Hourly and Flat Rate
There is no right answer when it comes to this, and it depends on a variety of factors. Only you can determine what you think will work better for your line of work. Generally speaking, however, charging hourly often results in shortchanging yourself. If you are charging for your writing services by the hour, but happen to be super-efficient and work quickly, you will end up with less money than if you charged a flat rate which is usually a better reflect of the true value of your service.
Simply upping the hourly rate will usually not work because the cost will likely seem unreasonable.
Tracking Your Work
As you get deeper into your business, you will be able to draw on your past experience to put together accurate estimates for future work. Keep track of the actual number of hours you are spending doing various aspects of your projects to help estimate the cost of future projects. Thoroughly analyze all the work you perform for a given project. Use a multiplier or some other type of ‘complexity’ factor to determine whether a project is more or less complicated than one that came before it. Keep a record of any ‘lessons learned’ to help you more accurately assess the costs of your services.