Different Freelance Pricing Models: Making It a Win-Win

Within the realm of freelancing, while the hourly pricing structure stands as the prevailing norm, alternative models exist. Delving into and carefully considering the most suitable model for a given situation can yield mutual benefits for both the client and the freelancer.

2/26/20243 min read

Different freelance pricing models
Different freelance pricing models

In the dynamic landscape of clinical research, where precision, expertise, and adherence to stringent protocols are paramount, freelance and contract professionals play a vital role in advancing medical knowledge and improving patient outcomes. From conducting trials to analyzing data and writing regulatory documents, freelancers in this industry encounter a diverse array of working arrangements and compensation models tailored to the specific demands of their field. Let's explore these models in greater depth, accompanied by insights into their applications.

Hourly Rate

The hourly model in freelancing is a common pricing structure where clients are charged based on the number of hours worked on a project. This model is particularly prevalent in clinical research for tasks requiring specialized expertise and when the scope of work is not clearly defined or may change over time - such as data analysis and biostatistics, regulatory affairs consulting, or protocol development.

The freelancer tracks the time spent on each project using time tracking tools or software, and the client will have transparency into how the freelancer's time is allocated and can budget accordingly. This also allows the client to easily scale the project up or down by adjusting the number of hours worked.

One drawback is that clients may be concerned about the total cost of a project if they are unsure how many hours it takes for a particular task to complete. At Freelance Clinical, we always encourage our clients to have an open conversation with the freelancers on the anticipated hours expected to avoid any surprises.

Fixed Price

Well-defined projects in clinical research, such as writing clinical study reports (CSRs) or preparing ethics and regulatory submissions, often lend themselves to a fixed-price model. The scope of work, deliverables, and timelines are assessed before a fixed price is proposed to the client. For example, a medical writer may offer a fixed price for drafting a comprehensive CSR, or a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) may offer a fixed price for conducting monitoring visits.


The retainer model is an agreement where a freelancer or contractor provides services to a client on an ongoing basis for a fixed fee. Instead of billing the client for individual projects or hours worked, the freelancer reserves a block of time each week, month, or another defined period to dedicate to the client's needs. This arrangement ensures that clients have access to timely assistance and consultation as needed.

Retainer agreements are common for ongoing projects or support services. For instance, a Contract Research Organization (CRO) or pharmaceutical company may retain the services of a regulatory affairs consultant on a monthly retainer basis, or they may retain services of CRAs on a retainer basis to conduct routine monitoring visits at investigational sites throughout the duration of multiple clinical trials. This ensures consistent oversight and compliance with the company's Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and processes. The retainer model fosters a collaborative and ongoing relationship between the freelancer and the client - promoting trust, loyalty, and continuity in the work partnership.

Day Rate

In the day rate model, instead of billing based on the number of hours worked, client is charged a set fee for each day the freelancer dedicates to the client's projects or tasks. The freelancer tracks the number of days worked for the client. Billing based on a daily rate simplifies the invoicing and payment process for both parties, compared to tracking hours.

For instance, freelance Quality Assurance (QA) auditors who conduct audits at client company or investigational sites may be engaged on a day rate basis, or freelance clinical research and Good Clinical Practice (GCP) trainers may offer training workshops or seminars on a day rate basis.


While less prevalent in clinical research compared to other industries, commission-based arrangements may still apply in certain role, such as in business development. For instance, freelancers and contractors involved in business development efforts for a CRO may negotiate a commission based on the number of new clinical trials they introduce to the client company.

In the clinical research landscape, selecting the appropriate working arrangement and compensation model requires careful consideration of project scope, duration, regulatory requirements, and client preferences. By harnessing various pricing models, freelance professionals in clinical research can excel in their endeavors, fostering advancements in medical science and enhancing patient welfare.

This collaborative approach not only benefits freelancers by enabling them to thrive in their roles but also provides clients with the flexibility to adjust resources as needed, potentially yielding significant cost savings. This symbiotic relationship creates a truly advantageous win-win outcome for all parties involved.

At Freelance Clinical, we cater to a diverse range of pricing models to meet clients' needs.

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