Yep. We’ve all been there. Here’s the background:

You’ve got that awesome client. You decided that since they’re not properly set up on their hoster (or they don’t have any of that set up yet) that you would give them a hand and be the nice guy. After all, you want them to be happy, right? You spend that extra time (or maybe you cleverly billed it under another item on the invoice you sent them), and they’re happy with what they got out of it. Now that they’re all set up and stoked about that wicked design you’re going to be making, they want to get ahead of themselves and start promoting it.

So at this point you’ve set them up with hosting and a domain name and they feel all professional with their snazzy custom e-mails (who needs Hotmail anymore?). Next, they look at their site say those classic last words: “Can you throw something up for us?”

It’s not that big of a deal, right? That’s what I said. The first… few times? If design is a language of it’s own (and women are from venus men are from mars), clients speak their own language too. Your client figures you do this all the time anyways, and it’s not that big of a deal. In fact, they’ll say that it’s not that big of a deal. Just something to put up so they can start promoting it. So you run into Photoshop and quickly design/develop something. No biggie. Two hours spent on top of the time you already spent on putting together their domain name and hosting? It’ll pay off.

It won’t.

I haven’t had a client yet (sorry guys, but lets be honest with ourselves) that has asked for a quick temporary page that hasen’t ended up wanting changes made to it, things added, etc. Either that, or they don’t like what you made and they ask you to do it after. Meanwhile, they still expect the milestones you set for the actual site to be met when you’re basically making that final site for them. But once you get to that point that you’ve made their “perfect” temporary site, you don’t know what you’re going to do for their actual website.

Now What?

As a freelancer you have a few options (I mean, you wrote up a contract, right?).

  • Throw something up. Just don’t put your name on it, because it likely won’t be something you’ll be proud of anyways.
  • Create a generic temporary page. I’m surprised I haven’t done this already. Having a custom temporary page and putting in the investment for making it look pretty can be worth your time and can promote your site while letting them get the hype up behind theirs.
  • Offer extra features. Turn this temporary page into a money-maker. Offer them features like setting up a newsletter, plugging in their social media, for a contact form, et cetera (especially if you’re not charging per hour).
  • Kindly tell them it isn’t within scope. If the client understands what your time is worth, they’ll completely understand. Tell them that you’ll do it for them, but you’ll need to open it as a separate project if they want a custom temporary page. Quote them for the project, however I would much prefer charging an hourly rate as if they buy into this then it likely won’t be that large.
  • Fire your client. This is for the rash and over-worked. If your client is giving you this many problems already with something you’re going out of your way to do, then it might extend throughout the project. Is it worth it? That’s your call, not mine.

But Why Isn’t It Worth It?

Really, this is up to your self-value. I know that I can’t half-ass a design. I can’t give you 50% off a design package and still give you the 100%. Nor can I give you 50% of a design. All my designs I put 100% in to. I wouldn’t put my company’s name on something that I am not proud of.

While, you’re right, your client will be happy with their new page, you’ll have wasted your time and your patience with something that shouldn’t even matter. If it mattered, they would have brought it up when you were quoting them, and you would have charged them for it. While two hours may not mean much to you, think about what that’s telling the client you’re working with: you’re free labour.

Who are they going to call the next time they need tech support? Who do you think they’re going to call in the middle of the night when their site crashed – their hoster? No. You.

What Do You Do?

What do you do when a client asks you to “throw something up”? Do you have a system in place? Share in the comments, below!

One Comment

  1. Erin on | Reply

    Never do work that you won’t be paid for. Period.

    If your client comes to you and wants something extra, then create a change request that details the additional hours required to make it happen, and exactly how that will affect the overall project.

    If your client doesn’t really want said changes, they won’t sign the estimate and you can continue with your project.

    If they do sign the request, then you have in writing that they will pay the additional costs. There will be no surprises when it comes to bill for your hours worked.

    You can only estimate for what you know about.

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