Still Billing Hourly as a Freelancer? Here’s How to Move Beyond to Something Better

A couple weeks ago, I talked about the importance of having a Bonus Day in your schedule as a solopreneur.

But, if you’re working by the hour, scheduling a Bonus Day might seem impossible. If you leave a whole day free, you cut down your hours, and unfortunately, your paycheck.

My solution? If you have a service-based business, it’s time to move to a different model: packages, retainers or day rates. This way, you can have maximum flexibility and not lose out on your hard-earned cash!

Already done this? You can stop reading now and go have a nice cup of tea instead! ????☕

If not, keep reading.

When I first started coaching, I charged by the hour. The problem? My clients weren’t thinking of their outcomes in terms of hours. No one came to me saying, “I’d like four hours of coaching please!” Instead, they had an overall result or goal in mind – “I’d like to streamline my business/discover my passion/figure out how to make X work,” etc.

That involved supporting them in between sessions, providing other resources I knew would be helpful, and behind-the-scenes stuff they never saw.

An hourly rate didn’t capture all of this work. It also kept my client’s focus on the idea of paying for just the time we were in session vs. paying for how the coaching relationship helped them accomplish their goal over time.

I decided to move to packages. It changed my whole approach. It freed me to try new things to help people get the best results because I don’t feel tied to the hour we have on the calendar.

When you’re a business owner or contractor, your hourly rate also needs to reflect ALL the costs that go into your business, not just the hourly rate to pay the person providing the direct service. That includes if that person is you! (a deeper dive article on this next week)

Another problem with hourly rates? They penalize you for getting faster and better. Pretty ironic right? The more experienced you are, the less you make?

With a package or retainer model, as you improve efficiency, skill, and process, you begin to make more per hour. Your package rates stay the same, but you put in less time, which equals better pay. Awesome, right?

If this is all new to you, here’s the skeezle (is that a word? I think I just borrowed that from Michael on the Office) on packages, retainers, and day rates. Because this is just a quick overview of different models, I’ve added some resources at the end of each description so you can learn more.

(Not sure what this might look like in your own business? Book a call with me and let’s figure it out!!!)


Basic idea: Offer a set amount of work at a set price. For instance, a set number of Pins made, a number of articles or emails written, podcasts edited, sessions with you, ads created, etc.. Packages might include different levels of service, access to you, or bonus items at different price points.

Works Great For: Solopreneurs focused on just one or two services (that is all you’re focusing on RIGHT???) who are really efficient at them.

Works Best When: A package model works best if you have a process for pre-work you need from the client, how to submit the work, and what condition it’s in when submitted. This ensures that lapses by the client don’t end up eating up your time.

Awesome Resource: If you’re down to really get into this and want to craft a package offer that will blow your clients away, I just got done reading 100M Offers: How to make offers so good people feel stupid saying no by Alex Hormozi. If you’re willing to put the work in to figure out what your client really needs and then create it, it’s amazing.


Basic idea: The same as a package, but paid for monthly, ongoing, and includes a set number of sessions or deliverables which are usually “use it or lose it” each month.

Works Great For: Retainers are great for services where you know clients get the best result by being consistent over time; the use it or lose it nature gives them accountability to show up. Coaches (wellness, business, relationship, social media, etc) are a great example of this.

Works Well Because: The recurring revenue smooths the cash flow ups and downs as clients come and go from your business, and you have a clear idea of your work load each month.

Awesome Resource: Natalie Eckdahl, Biz Chix Inc Podcast episode 437 – 5 Reasons You Need a Retainer Biz.

Day Rates

Basic idea: Price your service by the day and do as much work as possible on a project in the day for a set price.

Works Best For: Day rates are great for services that focus on project-based work, like copywriters who specialize in sales pages, graphic designers who create branding, or video editors who specialize in courses. Things that are big, but likely one-off, rather than recurring, consistent work.

Works Great Because: Day rates keep scope creep under control by creating a very solid container inside which the work will happen (this does partly depend on you having a realistic view of what you can do in a day). It gives clients quick gratification of getting a deliverable quickly. Day rates also keep a project from getting stuck – you can let your client know when you’re working so they have a specific time to be available to give you feedback (rather than it stretching out into weeks when you don’t get a call or email back), AND knowing you just have the day keeps you moving and from overthinking a project!

Awesome ResourceBadass Your Brand by Pia Silva goes in-depth into creating an entire marketing strategy around a “bulls-eye” day rate product.

Okay, maybe after reading all these ideas, your head is spinning with possibilities and what-ifs and you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed. Don’t get too caught up in the “how” just yet. Let’s go back to the why.

When you transition to a package-like model, it will allow you to create a value promise to your clients (a deliverable, a result, an output) uncoupled from your time. This means that if you are focused when you work and priced appropriately, you can create flexibility with your time.

That means you can work both IN your business, ON your business (no more bookkeeping on weekends!), AND have a Bonus Day so you can make space for your life.

STILL feeling unsure? You’re not alone. Let’s go through the main objections I usually hear when working with my clients.

“I feel guilty for charging ‘that much’ for something I can do fairly quickly!!”

Here is the thing…how many YEARS has it taken you to learn to be that quick? How much did you spend to learn and build your knowledge? How many relationships did you build to have the resources to work at this level?

That is what your client is paying for. None of that happened in an hour.

“I feel guilty charging for something that feels ‘easy.’”

You are not charging for your effort. You are charging for the result your client gets.

If this work feels easy, it probably means you’re better at it than most because you’re using your natural abilities coupled with experience. ????

Fight the Puritan Work Ethic that says it has to feel hard to be worthy of reward. The world is a better place when we’re all doing work that comes to us with ease. ????

“I feel uneasy about promising a certain result.”

I feel this one. However, if I don’t give examples and make a concrete brand promise about what clients can expect from working with me, it’s pretty hard for them to feel excited about turning over their cold, hard cash in the beginning.

But here’s the secret: I know I’m good at what I do, and I know you are too.

I know that each client’s results evolve and are usually so much bigger than my brand promise, that by the end, we’re both amazed about what has been accomplished. But we have to start somewhere for them to feel confident signing the contract. Think about the results you’ve gotten for clients so far. What’s been consistent? Start there.

“What if it takes me LONGER than I planned?”

That’s feedback. You won’t know until you try. Correct on the next proposal. Sometimes if it’s dramatic enough, you might have to correct on this proposal (i.e. ask for more money). But that’s how we refine our business. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’s all part of the process.

“I don’t think clients will make such a big commitment to me!”

Two things:

  1. It’s none of your business what a client will or will not decide to do. You are a waiter with a menu saying, “Here’s what I can offer you.” Then let them decide. Just like a restaurant, if you’ve had meatloaf on the menu for six months and genuinely NO ONE orders it, you might decide to try something else in its place. BUT you have no idea what your clients will buy until you put it on the menu and offer it.
  2. We need to refine your ideal client. You do fantastic work and always go above and beyond. There are clients out there who are looking for that and willing to pay for it. But, in order to get those clients, you must have the confidence to market to that group and have a firm picture in your mind of who they are and what they need.

“I offer too many services to have a standardized package!”

Um, make an appointment with me ASAP! (#kidding, not kidding) ???? Find your focus. That will streamline your entire business and help you get a better ROI on what you do offer. Where is the intersection between these two important ideas – the services that pay the most AND that you enjoy? It might mean you have to let go of something, which can be hard, but I have an article on that! ????

All of this to say, I want you to have breathing room in your business.

To be able to have a bonus day.

To have the life, freedom, flexibility you dreamed of when you started your own business.

It’s possible.

You’ve got this.



P.S. Know someone who quit their job (as millions have been!) this year, and is freelancing full time now? Please forward this to them! I want as many people as possible in this world to have both work AND a schedule they love. ♥

P.P.S. If this was forwarded to you, congrats on being someone who went for it!! ????

If you enjoyed this article, get my Vision Journaling Prompts (the place I start with every client I work with) and after a welcome sequence, you’ll receive an article like this once a week on Thursday morning, focused on creating the life you imagined when you quit (a walk in the middle of the day anyone? Friday off? Let’s make it happen!). I’m rooting for you. ????

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