Hourly Rate Pricing in Action:
A Deep Dive with A Real-Life Scenario

In the digital world, considering the right pricing package can be a complex puzzle for digital marketing agencies and businesses. The hourly rate model is a popular option, but is it still relevant in today’s fast-evolving world? As we delve deeper into the article, we will explore the benefits and risks associated with hourly rate pricing and provide a real-life example.

Hourly rate pricing model explained

The True Essence of Hourly Rate Pricing

In simple terms, the hourly pricing model charges clients based on agency hours spent on the project. It is often the starting point of a relationship between two parts.

It is important to note that hourly rates can have some drawbacks and may be unpredictable. However, there are situations where hourly prices can be beneficial. Therefore, this pricing strategy presents a low-risk, low-reward option for both the agency and the client.

Benefits of Hourly Pricing

For the agency

For the client

  • Low Commitment: The agency can evaluate the client before engaging in a long-term relationship.
  • Reward Effort: The agency gets paid for each hour of work.
  • Low Commitment: The client evaluates the agency before engaging in a long-term relationship.

Cons of Hourly Pricing

For the agency

For the client

  • There is no predictable income.
  • It takes a lot of work to allocate dedicated resources.
  • There is a growing need for more reporting.
  • Not all work is billable hours (reporting, email, phones).
  • It’s tough to calculate the actual cost per hour internally.
  • It is hard to shop around as the hourly rate doesn’t consider efficiency and impact. Our agency might do it in 4 hours, but it will take 12 hours for others.
  • It is hard to have an agency at your service since most agencies focus on clients with predictable incomes.
  • Encourages the agency to devote more time to the task, whereas it’s better for the client if tasks are completed more quickly.
  • On projects with unpredictable scope, it might become very costly.
  • The financial forecast is uncertain and complex to predict.
  • There is a need to evaluate reports.

Summary of Pros and Cons of Hourly Rates Package

Hourly pricing has pros and cons for both agencies and clients. 

  1. Agencies can charge for every work hour but may face the risk of unpredictable income and added extra tasks. 
  2. Clients can choose among flexible agencies, but they may need help in assessing efficiency and budget forecasting. 
  3. Understanding hourly reports is crucial for both parties.

Hourly Rate Pricing Strategy Risks vs. Rewards

For the agency

For the client


  • The agency spends a lot of time onboarding a client who leaves after the initial few hours. 
  • The client is not willing to pay for all the hours worked.
  • This pricing model may result in overpayment compared to other pricing packages.
  • The delivery of the requested tasks may take longer than usual.


  • The ability to showcase effect without asking for a long-term commitment exists.
  • The agency can earn additional income beyond standard retainers.
  • The client can pay for only a few work hours to resolve significant issues.
  • The client can evaluate the agency without a long-term commitment. 

Summary of Risks vs. Rewards of Hourly Rates Pricing Model

Undoubtedly, hourly pricing in digital marketing has risks and rewards for both sides. 

  1. Agencies can earn extra income and showcase their capabilities without long-term commitments but risk investing time in short-term clients. 
  2. Clients gain flexibility but may pay more and face longer wait times.

When is Hourly Pricing Ideal?

  • When initiating a partnership with an agency, you might consider assigning them a trial project to assess their capabilities before fully committing to a comprehensive collaboration.
  • When you have a specific issue and need a specialist to resolve it. For example, your conversion tracking is off, and you need someone to fix it ASAP to keep running campaigns.

Hourly Pricing Tips

Understand Work Hours vs. Consultant Hours

  • Work: I consider our overhead staff rates and margins needed when we work on hourly rates. These hourly rates vary vastly in the industry, from $5 to $300+ per hour.
  • Consulting: The client doesn’t need us to do much work; they seek expertise or insight that might influence a strategic decision. In this scenario, any self-respecting agency or consult will charge more per hour, $750+. The price depends on the uniqueness of knowledge and business impact.

Put Hourly Limits

You can always limit how many hours you are willing to pay for and ask the agency to update you on the hours spent. 

When Hourly Pricing Doesn't Work

For the agency

For the client

The client is trying to get a lot without paying for the required hours. For example, we got an RFP asking to consult the in-house Paid Team and to come up with the first meeting with three ways to improve their existing setup. They wanted to pay for one or 2 hours of us talking to the in-house team. 

However, to provide real work – we would need a lot more hours to audit all of their ad accounts, conversion tracking, and metrics, meet with the team to discuss improvements, develop the strategy doc, and finally talk to them. That’s more like a 30-hour job, considering the size of their campaign.

Deliverables take incredibly long to accomplish. Remember, the hourly rate should consider the whole team working on the project – so if it’s a personal team and in the scope it says 10 hours for deliverables – that’s 40 hours; it needs to make sense.

You are paying for the agency learning stuff; for example, if a person in the agency is unfamiliar with GA4 – you shouldn’t be paying for them to research how to use it.

A Real-life Scenario of Hourly Rate Pricing

The client

FlexFit Studio is a boutique fitness studio that offers specialized workout sessions, including Pilates, HIIT, and yoga.

Project Deliverables

  • Audit: a brief assessment of the current website and booking system to pinpoint the optimal tracking setup.
  • Tracking Setup: implementing conversion tracking tools (like Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel) to monitor class bookings.
  • Tests & Validation: ensuring the tracking mechanisms function correctly through thorough tests.

Pricing Structure

Roman Agency estimates the project will require approximately 10 hours, broken down as follows:

  • Audit: 2 hours
  • Tracking Setup: 6 hours
  • Tests & Validation: 2 hours.

Roman Agency offers these specialized services at an hourly rate of $200.


for FlexFit Studio
for Roman Agency
  • Transparency: The client only pays for the actual hours worked.
  • Flexibility: The scope can be extended or minimized based on the hourly rate, providing flexibility.
  • Expertise On-Demand: The client can access Roman Agency’s premium expertise without any long-term obligation.
  • Immediate Value: There is a swift implementation of a system offering insights into their online booking efficacy.
  • Flexibility: Resources can be allocated in line with the hours the project demands.
  • Opportunity for Upsell: A successful compact project could pave the way for more comprehensive future collaborations.

The Final Thoughts on the Project

Roman Agency efficiently conducts the audit and pinpoints the most suitable tracking tools tailored to FlexFit Studio’s requirements. The setup process is meticulous, and subsequent tests verify the flawless operation of the tracking mechanisms. Roman Agency dedicates 9 hours to the project, leading to a total expenditure of $1,800 for FlexFit Studio

With the new conversion tracking, FlexFit Studio gains a comprehensive understanding of their online booking performance, allowing them to fine-tune their marketing campaigns and attain a superior ROI. The hourly pricing model benefits FlexFit Studio, offering them top-tier expertise without elongating financial commitments.

Making the Right Choice with Roman Agency

To achieve financial efficiency in digital marketing, understanding pricing strategies is crucial. Although the hourly pricing model has benefits and challenges, selecting one that closely matches your business needs and objectives is vital.

Explore our comprehensive services and let us guide you toward the best pricing strategy for your business. Take the first step today!

Roman Zelvenschi
Chief Storyteller
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