I wrote this article in response to an email from a reader of this website:
Hi, I can certainly relate to your struggle, not knowing if, or what, to charge a friend. I don't know if what I'm writing below applies to you or not. What you wrote struck a chord in me and I'm writing these things out to confirm (within myself) some things that I've been learning.
How Could I Charge a Friend?
I used to be so intimidated about doing work for friends. I had the inner sense that "you don't charge friends" for work you do, and yet I couldn't afford to do the work for free. (and yet the friends often made lots more money than I did.) That was an inner battle that raged in me for years. Consequently, I hated the thought of doing work for friends. (That shows you how messed up I was.)
A Light Finally Dawned,
It's Ok to Charge Friends Finally, one friend asked me to do some work for him, and I was hestitant, even saying I wasn't sure what to charge him. He just flat out told me, to charge him what I would normally charge a customer. He wanted me to do it because he knew I did good work, and he trusted me. I've went through a few other similar experiences, until I finally got it through my thick head. "Just charge friends what you would normally charge anyone else. Just treat them fairly and honestly, just like you would do for anyone else. They just want someone that they can trust to do the job." Now I'm at peace in doing work for friends. True friends aren't trying to take advantage of a friendship. They just want to have someone they trust do the work. A true friend won't try to take advantage of a friendship to get free work.
Examine You Motives
Now with that said, if you "willingly" and without "begrudging it" do it, you can "choose" to do some work "at a reduced price" or for "free". Just make sure that you have your motives corrected. If you do work for free, why are you doing it? Because you just want to do something nice for them (and you can afford to do it.) Because they are genuinely needy and couldn't afford it others (and you so choose to willingly do it for less or for free?) Because you want to repay them for something they have done for you? Because You are afraid to charge full price? If the answer is yes, then what are you afraid of? *Are your afraid to make them mad? *Are you afraid that you'll loose their friendship if you don't do it cheap or for free? (If either of these last answers are true, then, are they true friends? +True friends would not be angry if you charged them your normal price +True friends would not stop being your friend if you charged them your regular price. True Friends Keep in mind the true and genuine friends would never "expect" you to do their work "cheap" or for "free". True friends would be looking out for your best interest, just as you would be looking out for their best interest. True friends would not take advantage of you, just as you would not take advantage of them. I wrote the first draft of the article here:
Gift or Business
Before you do anything, ask yourself if you will be doing this as a gift, or do you expect to be paid for your work. If it is a gift, clearly tell yourself and your friend/family member that it is a gift. Get the air cleared up front.
However, if you expect to be paid (and you should be paid in most cases), treat it as a normal job. Give your customer (who is your friend/family) a price and make out a work order. Tell him/her that you need a half deposit. Put the job on your work schedule just like any other job. Be friendly but also be very professional about it. Go through all your standard business proceedures, etc.