Thanks Jason, Alexis and Kris.  I appreciate the time taken to respond.

Kris, you definitely touched upon a few of my current concerns. Gladly I have not quoted the client at $20 p/h. I can definitely confirm that the characteristics you described are already taking place (drama and quite demanding). I definitely like the suggestion from yourself, Jason and Alexis which is to work on the bare minimum and cost extra development accordingly...and, not under-cost my work for fear or consideration to the client's state in terms of budget.

Kris, I greatly appreciate the offer for your SOW/contract sample. Please send it my way when you have a chance.

Thanks again for all the great responses and excellent suggestions.



From: "Kris Craig" <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 8:47 PM
To: <>
Subject: [PHP] Re: Independent Contractor Suggestions

Hi musicdev,

There are a couple issues I think need to be addressed with what youd
described.  First and foremost, $20/hr is considerably below the going
rate for PHP work, especially for projects as large as the one you're
talking about.

I used to do freelance PHP work for about 5 years before I went to
work for Microsoft, and when I originally started I was just charging
about 20 bucks an hour as well.  It proved to be a disaster.  Contrary
to what common sense might tell you, I've found that lower-budget
clients always produce the most drama, are the most demanding, and
least reliable when it comes to paying the invoices on-time.
Furthermore, larger clients will generally ignore you in favor of
developers who charge more, the mindset being that, if you're charging
such a low amount, the quality of your work probably isn't that good.

I did a lot better after I started charging $100/hr for my work.  A
*lot* better!  This was after my research showed that PHP development
firms generally charge a minimum of $80/hr for PHP work, and can go as
high as $200/hr.  So if you're going at $20/hr, the companies with
deep pockets probably won't take you seriously, and the clients you do
get will be the ones who want a ton of work done but don't have the
budget available to make it worth your while.  Those are the clients
who will take advantage of you if you're not careful.

With your specific dilemma, if you already quoted $20/hr then of
course you should honor that.  However, I would strongly suggest that
you do *not* allow the client to
determine the cost of the deliverables after the work has already been
done.  Nine times out of ten you will get taken advantage of, because
the client knows you already did the work which means they have all
the leverage.  After all, ten cents on the dollar is better than zero,
right?  You don't want to put yourself in that situation.

Instead, here's what I would suggest:  Work with the client to
determine a bare minimum of work that would need to be done for the
"first phase."  Based off the $20/hr you quoted, determine how many
hours that will take and give them a quote.  Then, develop a statement
of work document (that both you and the client will have to sign) for
that phase, outlining specifically what work will be done and break it
up into deliverable pieces.  Upon completion of each "chunk" of work,
a percentage of the total quote will be due.  This ensures that you
get paid for your work and that the client receives the work s/he is
paying for.  It also breaks-up the payment schedule so that it's a bit
easier on the client's budget.  If the client runs out of money midway
through or whatever, you simply suspend work until they get more funds
and then resume where you left off.  I've found this model to be the
most successful on projects like this.

I hope this helps.  If you like, I'd be happy to email you a sample
copy of the SOW/contract I've used with past clients.


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