When I first started, I found it to be a hassle to track minutes every time I worked on a project; sometimes I only had 15 minutes to work on something. So I began charging by project, but I found even more problems with project-based pricing; so here’s my advice to beginner freelancers:

  1. I believe that project-based jobs are not as fair to both parties as hourly-based jobs.  A five page website, depending on how complex the design is, number of plugins, amount of content, etc. can really vary. The same goes for a logo, brochure, photo editing, and pretty much any job you’ll run into. Designers must build this in to their pricing, which is unfair to clients whose projects are less complex or have less edits. Hourly-based prices allows the client to pay for the amount of time you put into the project. No more, no less.
  2. If you charge $500 for a project and it’s taken you 10 hours, then you just worked for $50 per hour. Not bad for most people. But, if there are a lot of edits and it takes 20 hours, you just made $25 p/hour. Assuming you want $50 per hour, that’s far below what you originally wanted. How likely are some designers to put in the extra 5 hours it might take to refine the project (consciously or unconsciously)? If you being paid what’s fair to you, you’re more likely to really put your heart into the project.
  3. Charging hourly makes it hard to estimate costs to clients at first. But once you get a few job under your belt, you can go back and look at similar projects and how long it took you. Your estimates will become more accurate over time.
  4. You no longer need to enter times into a spreadsheet and convert fractions to hours to money. There are a lot of free and paid resources out there to track your time. Personally, I use Chrome Time Track because it’s ridiculously easy to use and is always on my Chrome toolbar. I always enter the time into a spreadsheet when I’m done – just incase I accidentally leave the timer running when I’m done. Other popular resources are:
    1. toggl (paid), Tick (free and paid)
    2. Klok (free and paid)
    3. Timeloc (free)
    4. …and even your iPhone timer (in the built in clock app).