Pricing your services

Should You Charge More For A Rush Job?

By Brennan Dunn

Recently, Margaret wrote me asking —
“Brennan, what do you think about charging more for a rush job??”

Have you ever seen the bill for an emergency room visit in the ol’ US of A?

A few months ago, I made the mistake of shaking off a rug outback at 3am (don’t ask.) Former asthmatic me couldn’t take it, and I ended up checking myself in to the ER to get the steroids I needed to breath right again.

They did the usual tests and diagnostics on me, and eventually a physician hooked me up to a breathing machine, wrote me a prescription, and sent me on my way. Well, a few weeks later I saw the bill — it was close to $5,000 (thank GOD for insurance.) …I could have got the same treatment and the exact same prescription at a primary care doctor for substantially less.

Being able to breathe in the middle of the night is pretty important, but the amount of people who abuse the ER and check themselves in for the slightest problem is staggering. As a culture, we don’t like to wait.

And the same can be said about clients.

A mentor of mine once told me, “There’s important, and then there’s urgent. Most people think their important projects are urgent.”

Clients generally want to kick off projects ASAP. They’re excited. They’re eager. And that’s typically not a problem — unless, of course, you’re already booked. But sometimes, there’s a legitimate, time-sensitive reason behind an urgent request.

So what are your options?

  • Work longer hours (at the cost of your health and happiness)
  • Kindly ask your current client to delay (at the cost of their happiness and your relationship with them)

There is nothing wrong with doubling or even tripling your rate when a client insists on immediate gratification. Simply explain that they’re inconveniencing you and the clients who have been patiently waiting to work with you.

There needs to be some financial pain associated with urgency. If you’re willing to take on rush work, don’t be afraid to put your foot down and charge more. And if you don’t want to work nights and weekends and don’t want to bump back your current clients, sometimes the best option is to just say, “I’m sorry. I’m unable to work with this project timeline.”

Have you ever charged more for a rush job? What was your experience like? Sound off in the comments below!

Could you do me a favor? This little weekly mailing now goes out to over 3,000 freelancers each week… My (ambitious?) goal is to hit 10,000 by the end of the year. I just launched a spiffy new website last night, and I’d love to get the word out: