Open Thread: Do You Accept Rush Work?

Some freelancers dread them. Other freelancers welcome them as a way to make extra money.

I’m talking about those last-minute jobs with impossible deadlines that freelancers are sometimes asked to do–otherwise known as “rush work.”

There are several approaches that a freelancer can take towards rush work.

Some freelancers operate on a strict “first come, first serve” basis. If a potential client contacts them with a rush job that is due before work that they are currently working on, they turn the new project down.

Other freelancers welcome “rush work” as an opportunity to charge additional fees. Rush fees among freelancers vary widely from an additional nominal amount such as $50 dollars to twice or even three times their normal rate.

Finally, a few freelancers decide whether or not to take “rush work” based on their financial status. If they are short of cash or needing to earn a little extra, they will accept last minute projects. However, if they are feeling financially secure, these same freelancers will turn them down.

What is your policy?

Do you accept rush work?

Leave your answers in the comments.

Comments

  1. says

    Yes, I accept rush work, but not at the expense of current projects and never at increased rates.

    I find it a great way to get new clients by impressing them with your abilities. I also find that current clients can be very grateful if you help them out of a tight spot, which can lead to extra work in the future.

  2. says

    It depends entirely on my current workload and if they’re willing to pay a higher price for the work. I generally don’t take rush jobs on if I have actual work going on unless they’ve been referred by a current/past client. If, however, I’m waiting on copy or approval from my current clients it only makes sense for me to take on the extra work.

  3. says

    From the standpoint of where I operate from, freelance writing is full-time writing; it’s a business I need to work hard to sustain.

    Rush job or long-term job; re-writing job or developed intensive research backed whitepapers, I do it all and at any time. No matter how my clients find me or no matter how I seem to grab projects, my criteria is to look for gold — slow or fast.

    Check list:

    – Pays reasonably well?
    – Can I do the Job?
    – Do I have enough resources to complete the job?

    All checks. Take the job. If not, keep looking.

  4. says

    I learned early in my freelancing career to avoid rush work unless it was a) a very simple job or b) work from a client I had a long working relationship with. I don’t care how much a job pays – rush work from people I don’t seems to always accompany the worst working conditions and the least gratitude.

  5. says

    I LIVE FOR RUSH WORK!

    It is my favourite type of work. There is no messing about with the client for the most part, they have a budget, they know what they want and when they want it. I provide it, they pay me, everyone is really happy!

    I am generally not a fan of jobs that take more than a week, the clients tend to change their mind too much and they drag on an on.

    I do 3D animation =)

  6. says

    My general rule is to never say no to a job unless I know that there’s no way I’ll hit the deadline.

    I took a rush job from a new client just before Christmas. That’s turned into a monthly deal.

  7. says

    I find I’m almost never 100% full on work, as I try to allow down time for myself and my family. So usually when a rush job comes in I can take it – if the money is right, and I can finish it on the deadline they require. I’ve sometimes run into jobs which the deadline was impossible for me to meet / the person’s budget ideas were unrealistic for even a regular job. I’ve passed on those.

    I’ll take rush jobs because:
    1) There tends to be less revisions since it needs to go live sooner.
    2) It tends to bring in extra income.
    3) It’s good “karma” to be viewed as a hero. It keeps old clients happy, and can turn new clients into fans/regular clients.

  8. says

    I take on rush jobs if I know I can get it done without jeopardizing current projects. Depending on the client, my rates will vary, for example a really good client who is in a bind may be asked to pay a lower rush rate than others.

    In general they give me an adrenaline rush, especially when the client is really pleased with the result.

  9. says

    I agree with Aleksey – Everything is a rush job nowadays, so too much time can actually be a bad thing.

    It really depends on what you consider to be a rush job. For some people, 3 days to produce a brochure is a rush, for others that is a day more than is necessary.

  10. says

    Hi!

    I do accept rushwork, and i have a love/hate relation to it. The reason i hate it is because i think we all want to do a great job. But it is always harder to accomplish when the time is limited and it demands more from you.

    The reason i love it is when you are in between projects and get extra income when you hadn´t planned for it. Being a freelancer it is easy to just ignore a weekend of partying and put in some extra work instead.

    I think i mostly love it , come to think of it!

  11. says

    I LOVE rush work. I don’t know if it reminds me of my Army days, where I’d have to compile a perfect press release in a tent on a government laptop within an hour, or what – but I love it. I like the feel of the pressure urging me on, I think; and I actually think when I have that kind of pressure (and the knowledge that it’s going to be a bunch more money) I write with a little extra fire in my words.

    I’ll take rush jobs even when I know I’ll be up until midnight working on them.

  12. says

    I can honestly say that a huge chunk of new offers I get are usually of the rush variety. Seems like clients always need things very quickly. It kinda blurs the line between “rush job” and “quick deadline.” And it makes it harder to apply rush rates. Small/specialty things, like custom myspace profiles and twitter backgrounds, are usually wanted very quickly. Most medium to large websites aren’t asked to be rushed, and when they are it’s usually a good sign the client is a potential tire kicker.

  13. says

    I also really enjoy rush work. The client is usually VERY appreciative and understanding, and typically very grateful at the end. It’s also usually short term work, which is nice.

  14. says

    I never knew how to “milk” this situation. Did get some projects in this way and charged my normal rates while losing sleep for 2-3 days to finish it all. I was happy to have something to work. now I’ll make sure I do charge more so that at least I can earn some more.

  15. says

    There’s no reason to turn them down, but spend more time up front setting expectations. Because if you/client don’t have a clear-cut understanding of what has to happen from start to finish, you’ll miss your deadline and upset the clients whose projects you pushed off to do this rush job.

    I don’t have a special rate but might include a couple extra of billable hours in my quote knowing I won’t be able to multi-task on other projects. But regardless I get paid for these…it’s a premium service you’re providing, just like shipping something Next Day vs. Ground.

    @TheAL – agreed on all accounts.

  16. says

    @Ashwin has a point. I guess it’s not a matter of accepting it anymore, considering today’s business and working world there’s no other option. Working under preassure, being aware of the deadlines and all that stuff is something that cannot be ignored!!!

  17. says

    I think it’s totally dependent on timing. If I have a project/s on the go, but I’m getting slow response times from the Client, or waiting on content etc, I’ll happily take on a smaller quick job to fill the downtime.

  18. says

    I don’t usually accept rush projects, but if I am able to, then I charge higher. It’s stated in my terms that I will charge higher depending on the time frame.

  19. says

    I take rush jobs when it doesn’t interfere with normal workload. I don’t charge extra for regular good clients. I charge double when the it’s a client who makes a habit of doing things at the last minute — and I make sure they know why they are paying so much.

  20. Ricky says

    Sometimes a higher rate for rush jobs is necessary, especially if you have a client that continually flags ever single project as a rush job, even in cases when it’s clearly not. I had one long standing client that hired a new project manager and she simply flagged everything as being ASAP.

    If you’re getting a constant stream of rush jobs each week, from one client, it can adversely effect progress on other client projects. Which isn’t fair to your other clients. In which case, charging a higher rate can help you to identify true rush jobs, while also acting as a disincentive to simply flagging everything as a rush job.

  21. says

    Generally, I always quote the time I’m going to take on a project, at about twice as long as it should take me. If I can do a project in a week, I’ll estimate the project at two. If a project should take a month, I’ll estimate at two.

    So, usually, I have a project or two done, sitting on my drives, about 3/4 into my deadline while I rigorously do quality testing. In this flex time I also develop my personal CMS that I use to speed-up projects. And in this flex time, I’ll also upgrade existing clients if my software will give them new features or fix a security hole.

    Now, I consider a “rush” job as a job that does not give me that flex time. If they say they need it in a week, and I know it will take me a week, it’s a rush job. On rush jobs, I set my rates according to how long the project is still. If it’s a 2-day project, I won’t charge much extra, if at all. If it’s a project that will force me into a tight month of work, then I’ll nearly double my price.

    I never accept a job that will make me lose sleep. I do my best work when I’m alert, so if I’m forced to stay awake through a night it will be because of disaster, and not because of a rush job. I decided when I began freelancing that I would not allow myself to be tortured because a client cannot wait.

    If I have one project on the burner and I’m requested for a rush-job, I will check my time-line and see if it’s possible for me to meet both deadlines. If I can, I’ll, again, charge according to the length of the rush, adding a disclaimer stating the rushed project will be released under “beta” status, giving me my quality-control time after the projects release date. If anything goes horribly wrong during the beta period it will be under my disclaimer. I keep rush projects in beta for twice as long as it took to develop (including development and beta phase, it means a project will last 3x longer than a non-rush project)

    Overall, while this has caused me to lose some otherwise well-paying clients, my schedule will always allow me the time to walk to my coffee-hole, get good sleep, stay alert, not make mistakes, and just live well.

  22. says

    Great post and great comments — keep them coming!

    Yes, I do and will accept rush work, but ONLY if it doesn’t interfere with current client commitments and also if it ‘feels’ right (Ie, I won’t take on a job that has unrealistic deadlines or expectations.

    I do have a policy of charging more for a rush job (which is made clear to any client — new or old), but I waive this for regular clients who don’t make a habit of leaving things till the eleventh hour.

  23. says

    Wow!

    It’s really interesting seeing all of the different approaches. Thanks to everyone who shared.

    I also think that what stage your freelancing career is at makes a difference. I used be able to squeeze in rush work sometimes without impacting other clients, but now I find that I am nearly always too busy to do so.

  24. says

    I’m good at doing rush work but if I’m not sure I have enough time
    for the job, I won’t accept. Quality must never be sacrificed.

  25. says

    I have a couple of clients for whom it’s the norm to give me rush work. That’s the only way they operate!

    If I have spare capacity then, of course, I will say ‘yes’ to a last-minute job. However, jobs aren’t always as urgent as they first might appear: a few years ago I was asked on a Friday afternoon to do two days’ work for Monday lunchtime.

    I said: “That’s no problem but, if you are asking me to work over the weekend, my weekend rates are double.” Their reply was that Wednesday would do fine. :)

  26. Saffron Scott says

    If things are slow, I have no problem with rush work if they don’t have a problem with me charging 150%; but like many others have said //only// if it doesn’t interfere with another project.

    HUGE rush jobs are something I’ve taken before and regretted. Like e-commerce sites with hundreds of pages that some guy’s son-in-law was supposed to build, the direct mail postcards have been printed and sent with the launch date, and son-in-law just admitted he really only knows Frontpage with a week to launch. That I regretted, even at an inflated rate.

    On the other hand, once I stayed up on coffee and Wake-Ups for 3 days to design/produce a Commemorative DVD for a not-for-profit and pressed 100 copies with my own computer (killing 3 combo drives in the process); and even though it was a charity gig I don’t regret it at all.

    I guess it depends, but for the most part my answer to “Rush Job?” is “Show me the Money”.

  27. says

    It depends on my workload. I’ll accept rush projects ONLY if I believe I can complete them competently in the time allotted and if I don’t have any other projects with pressing deadlines. I used to accept them without charging extra, but after this started to be abused by clients, I increased my rush rates. For the most part, rush jobs tend to be more stressful for me AND the client, so I definitely think a premium fee is in order for something like this.

  28. says

    Rush work can be a great thing to do and complete for your client! I always try to accomodate rush jobs when possible, and never at a higher rate than normal.

    Not raising the rate when it is a rush project goes a long way in telling your client that you are working WITH them, not for them. I have several clients that have become regular clients because I took on their rush work, did a great job, and charged them my normal rate to do it. They loved it!

  29. says

    I accept rush work if it’s a previous client or friend or someone who was directly referred from them.

    I find that with some rush work, the ‘rush’ part is figure of the client’s imagination. They say they need something done ASAP and you take time out of some other project to quote them, do some research, etc and then takes forever to get back to you with the actual project.

    That’s (thankfully) few and far inbetween. Rush jobs from people I know are usually something pretty easy, and even something that was quoted in their original project, but was set to the side until D-day.

  30. says

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  31. says

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