The SharePoint Designer

Brand. Design. Amaze.

May 8

Working for friends: what are the limits

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As a Designer, Coder, Copy Writer, Photographer (all professions actually)  we get asked to help out friends by lending them our expertise. The question I had today was: What are the limits when it comes to charging them? I have been on the short end of the stick a few times when it has come to doing projects for friends and family, as I feel guilty charging them but 50 hours later, I am cringing at the thought of the next email.  Those “quick jobs” become costly of your time, your mental energy and usualy end up destroying relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, a quick logo or picture, banner or tweak I do not mind at all. But as Garry Stewart and Alistair Pugin pointed out – when that one quick thing becomes 50 quick things, you are looking at a time consuming issue.

So after a twitter conversation, and some thought I came up with some pretty simple rules for this.

  1. When asked to do something by a friend or family member, think on how long it is going to take you.
  2. Consider the person asking.  For example: If that person is a OCD perfectionist – double your time in your head
  3. If the time is over 5 hours, then tell them it will cost them (be up front at all times)
  4. Consider a “Friend Rate” – and stick to it! In my case I give a 50% discount for family and close friends and about a 30% discount for friends on my radar.
  5. ONLY accept projects when you have the time. When you get home from work, some times the last thing you want to do is do MORE work
  6. Give the person a time line. You say 10 hours, some times in their head they think “oh thats a day and a bit” without factoring in your other work, or even your day job.
  7. Always do a professional invoice if you are billing. I would suggest using Fresh Books, it is free and very easy to use, you can even track your time on it.

I welcome comments on this, as it is an issue which many people have different solutions for. What are your rules and guidelines?


  1. Dave ColemanNo Gravatar

    May 8, 2011


    Hi Lou

    I agree with the post BUT always charge full price never give “Mates Rates” your time is to precious i have always believed that people pay me not for my looks but for what i know that has taken years to learn so ALWAYS charge full price.


  2. Louise van der BijlNo Gravatar

    May 8, 2011


    Hmmm, and here I thought you were just a pretty face :). I also look at the project itself when it comes to my Mate Rates. An HTML newsletter is pretty simple but a SharePoint Design is mentally intensive – so that also weighs in for me

  3. SharonNo Gravatar

    May 8, 2011


    I need to build up the courage to ask “mate rates”. I really struggle with this, but I need the money just as much as the next person. Being a single mom ain’t easy, so every cent really does help. Guess it is time to put on the big girl brooks and stand up for myself.

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