Pricing is, and will always be one of the most difficult challenges for freelancers and independent contractors. One thing many freelancers forget to do, however, is pad their quoted hours.
The process of quoting
A freelancer or independent contractor will, at some point, need to provide time estimates. This could happen during a simple conversation between friends at a coffee shop, or it could be a formal quoting process that the potential customer has set out. No matter what the process, the potential customer will describe the project and ask you what you would charge for that project. The level of detail you should provide for the quote varies, as does how the customer might like to see the quote. No matter what the process, in the end you will have a description of the project and the potential customer will have an idea of how much the project might cost them.
Things to keep in mind while quoting
If you are freelancing or independent contracting, you should know your general hourly rate. You should use this hourly rate as your basis for quotes, but this does not mean you need to stick to only that number. Every project is different and includes a different type and intensity of work. If you think you will be significantly stressing over a project, then quote a higher rate. If you know that a job will be very easy, be sure to quote at least enough that the job will be worth it to you, no matter how little time you may spend on it.
Padding is important
One thing many new freelancers and contractors forget to do is pad their quotes. Padding usually means adding a bit of wiggle room, in the form of additional money or additional time, to your project quote. If you think that a project will take you 10 hours of work over one week, and your hourly rate is $40, then you may be tempted to quote $400 and one week for the project. Instead, you should quote at least $480 and 11 days for your project. The point is that it is always easier to quote a bit more time and money than you think the project will actually take. When you pad your quote a bit, you are protecting yourself. It is always easier to tell a customer that you came in before time and under budget than over time and over budget.