Um. Yes. Of course. That’s practically a rule.

I’m surprised when I hear this question from other freelancers.

Some wonder if it is fair or ethical to charge one rate to client George, and a different rate to client Miranda.

Others worry that this is vaguely illegal. (Maybe it is, if you’re a supermarket. Or if you live in the Netherlands or Singapore. I have no idea about that.)

I know one freelance developer who charges everyone the same because he doesn’t want the angst of figuring out a new price every time. He is even lazier than I am.

But the fact is, our livelihood depends on matching the fee to the task, to the client’s urgency level, to our anxiety level, and to the client’s checkbook balance.

That must be part of our skills stack. That is how we grow in this business.

Otherwise we’re merely day laborers.

Think of it this way.

Two hours of raking leaves isn’t quite the same as two hours of dragging 30-pound cinder blocks to the top of a hill.

Translating nine pages of text for a bi-lingual instruction sheet isn’t the same as translating nine pages of a communique from an angry Prime Minister.

My friend Sullivan, a roofing and siding contractor, used to mentally adjust his estimate as he drove up to a house. A big house in a fancy neighborhood got an automatic surcharge. “Because those people always badgered down the price, were a royal pain in the butt, and oddly, were really slow to pay.”

This is partly why I’m leery about posting rates or fees on your web site. And why I’m not a fan of hourly rates.

You need room to think. To assess the situation. (Yours and theirs.)

I know, it’s easier to point to some generic price list. But that’s amateur. That’s cowardly.

We’re allowed to say what we charge, case by case. (Even if it’s hard, and even if we guess wrong once in a while.)

We need to be pros about this. This is our living, after all.