Is There a Way to Do Better Estimates or Quotes?

two people sitting at a desk and discussing items on a piece of paper

As a freelancer, you can’t just focus on one task of your business. You need to be able to do more than just expertly design a website; you must know how to consult with clients, give them excellent service, bill clients, and manage your time well. Perhaps most importantly, you need to know how to effectively estimate or quote for a new job.

Why Is Effective Quoting Important to My Business?

When you are a freelance designer, time is money. You want to be paid for your expertise as well as the time you spend working on a project for a client. When a potential client sends you an email to inquire about your services, your estimate is important to them as they establish their budget for the project, but an estimate is also important for you.

When you provide an accurate estimate or quote for a project, you are able to ensure both you and the client are on the same page as you move forward together. Effective estimates work hand-in-hand with your contract, laying out what work you will do and how much that will cost.

Ineffective estimates lead to confusion and frustration for the client and for yourself. You can also end up working for free if you aren’t estimating properly.

Evaluate Your Scoping Process

The first step to an effective estimate is to evaluate your scoping process. A scope of work (SOW) lays out the details of a project, giving you and the client a document that keeps you both working toward the same goal. You can provide better estimates for your work by evaluating your scoping process to ensure the completed SOW includes everything you’ll be doing for a project.

A comprehensive scoping process is the foundation to better estimates or project quotes. Is your scoping process as effective as it could be? Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Do you have a scope of work template you use to estimate projects so that you don’t forget the large and small details?
  • Do you provide the scope of work template to new clients and ask them to be a part of the scoping process in order to determine what they are looking for?
  • If a client doesn’t want to complete the SOW template, do you charge them for completing it on their behalf?
  • Do you include details in your scoping document to account for overtime charges or extra requests?

Get Down to the Details

Your SOW includes all of the project details, as well as the time you will spend completing the tasks.

The more detailed your scope of work, the better you are able to provide an accurate estimate for service costs to the client.

Remember, no detail is too large or too small. It is best to begin with the big goals and hopes for the project before creating the smaller tasks that will need to be completed to meet those goals. By scoping details, you are able to break down your time spent on each element.

For example, you might need to allocate extra time in order to create a complex contact form for a client. Your scope of work should note this and you can add in additional time to your estimate once you realize that the client wants that complex form.

Stick to the Scope

Finally, your estimates or quotes become more accurate when you stick to your agreed upon scope of work. The more you veer from the tasks outlined on the SOW, the more likely you are to end up working too much on a task without being paid for it.

Providing more accurate estimates to potential clients takes a bit of practice, but your practice cannot begin without a comprehensive scope of work process. It is always worth it in the end to spend the time developing a scope of work template to guide potential clients through the process.

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