Why fixed-price is usually a terrible idea

RyanFor Developers1 Comment

Back in my humble beginnings of building websites, I would charge a fixed-price. In these much simpler times, it would be commonplace for me to end up billing a client $200-$300.

Sure, I was young and naive, but the website building landscape hadn’t evolved into what it is today. WordPress wasn’t a thing yet. But most importantly, I had bills to pay, so the idea of a guaranteed amount of money was appealing.

I’m sure there are plenty of other young freelancers who are currently doing the same. Fixed-pricing and bidding is actually fairly normal in purchasing a website, but that’s not the type of discussion I’m writing about today.

Instead, I’m going to talk about the not-so-well-thoughout-fixed-price-projects that end up earning you wages on par with a sweatshop in a third world country.


As a young dummy, I loved the idea of fixed-price. It was comforting knowing exactly what I would be paid in the rollercoaster ride that is being a freelancer.

It was appealing until I realized I was essentially a living, breathing mouse cursor that the client could control for as many hours as they pleased, with zero worry for how much the bill was going to be… why would they worry? Their project has a fixed-price! They already know what they’re paying.

In hindsight, a thorough contract could have easily solved this issue from the getgo. Yeah, 30+ year old me can easily look back and laugh at 18-year old me and call myself a moron for not understanding what I was getting myself into.

But how many 18 year old freelancers are using contracts? Further, how many young freelancers are hiring a lawyer to make sure said contract covers all bases if push comes to shove? I am guessing around 0 percent.

The fact is, any type of contract is better than no contract. Bills of sale that were hand-written on napkins have held up in court for gods sake (trust me, I just Google’d it).

The Bottom Line:

Create a contract, outline what the expectations are from both parties, and for the love of god, put it in writing that once the project reaches X amount of hours, your regular hourly rate kicks in! You will be thankful that you did, and it will help prevent clients from having you try a 16th shade of blue for the slider background.

One Comment on “Why fixed-price is usually a terrible idea”

  1. Pingback: Setting Boundaries 101 - Website Hell

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