Freelance billing question

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Hls811, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Hls811 macrumors 6502a

    Hls811

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #1
    I've recently started doing some freelance PC support work and have a client that I've been helping for the last 4-5 months or so. Just something to bring in a little extra cash and it gives me something to do. She recently mentioned that she had some video work she needed done, its essentially copying footage of her stand up comedy routine from her camcorder to the computer, trimming it down, adding logos, event info, etc and then either uploading it to a site or burning it to a DVD to try and promote her... Its all pretty easy stuff with the Mac and has become a nice little hobby for me and helped me learn it.

    Here's my question, - For all of hte computer work I did for her I get paid hourly and I was going to do the same for this stuff.. but do I charge for every minute spent working on this, even when I'm just waiting around for the computer to do its work? Aside from the actual time it takes to do the changes and edits, a good portion of the time is waiting... Lets say theres a 30 minute set... It'll take 30 minutes to import from DV Tape to Mac.. Then I'll spend about 30 minutes doing accurate trimming, adding the artwork at the start end, I throw in a few text fields and transitions with the show information and her contact information, and then it gets exported to an MP4 which takes about 20 minutes, and then another 10 or so if I have to upload it, burn it or email it somewhere). So start to finish it took about an hour and a half, but an hour of that the computer was doing the work, not me... Unfortunatly, when iMovie is processing and doing the import/export phases I can't do another clip at the same time, so I can't multi-task. (I'm not sitting at the screen waiting for it to finish either, I'll either walk away or do some of my own stuff...

    In total I've spent about 10 hours on the project so far from start to finish, and probably 3 hours of actually sitting at the computer doing something productive work. How do I charge for that?
     
  2. njl macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Location:
    SAT
    #2
    my advice is to factor in the following to give yourself a better sense of what your hourly rate should be:

    1) Cost and maint of equipment
    2) Cost and maint of your vehicle (including mileage or gas schedules)
    3) Payroll taxes as a self employed and accounting/managing your books
    4) Costs associated with any new software or training you may need
    5) Misc costs associated with your home office (phone lines/internet included)

    i say this based on my experience as a sole proprietor.

    i hope it helps in putting you in the right direction. :)
     
  3. Boneoh macrumors 6502

    Boneoh

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    #3
    I've done a lot of consulting over the years. Most clients are reasonable as long as you discuss the issues before handing them an invoice. Get rid of any unreasonable client, sometime the fit is no good. I saw one client just churn and burn through consultants to get some work done cheaply, then stiff the consultants on the payment.

    In this case, it may depend a lot on the rate you are charging. If you're only getting $10 an hour, go ahead, it's not going to break the bank or create hard feelings.

    I often charge half time for travel out of the local area. Perhaps you could charge half rate for wait times as well. Or perhaps quote the job as a fixed price, not hourly. There are many options. Discuss it with your client. Go for a win-win situation.
     
  4. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Location:
    Toronteazy
    #4
    I've worked freelance in a number of fields, and generally I try to abide by whatever the best practices are for the field. If there are no best practices, I do my best to collect data about what other similarly experienced professionals charge, and charge that. Being consistent within your profession is not only good for you, but it's good for your entire field.
     
  5. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604

    thegoldenmackid

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    dallas, texas
    #5
    I've done some of the same and charge different for what I was doing. For video work I looked at it like this: Even if the computer is still rendering, I still am not using the computer - therefore I'm going to charge you. Obviously if you can still work while the computer is rendering then it might be different, but I always thought of it like that. I charged people to do basic video stuff a fairly low rate and gave them an estimate of how long it was going to take and included telling him it will take x to render and they seemed fine with it. (Either that or they nodded their head because they did not know what "render" meant.)

    Oh charge by the hour or the half hour, as cute and funny as 27 minutes sounds, the math involved doesn't make it worth it.
     
  6. Hls811 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Hls811

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #6
    Thanks for your input everyone..

    I already have the hourly rate set and established with her, so that wasn't really the issue, I just sort of felt guilty charging her for 10 hours when I wasn't really putting in 10 hours of effort; the computer was.

    I know every situation is different but I think I'll try to follow thegoldenmackid's suggestion and only charge for when the computer was rendering and unavailable and I'll work out a lower rate. I was just asking in case there was some sort of standard practice for how to handle this.

    I'm sure she'll pay whatever it is I ask without questioning it, she's a great client and appreciative of the work I do - and I really enjoy doing this stuff. I just didn't want to feel like I was ripping her off if that wasn't some form of normal procedure.
     
  7. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604

    thegoldenmackid

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    dallas, texas
    #7
    Just to sort of make things a little bit clearer. If it was my sole job and I had a computer solely for said job. As long as working is going on, I would charge it. At the current place I'm working at we charge clients when things are printing (hourly) even though the copier is doing all the work, slightly different. It seems she would be very appreciative if you are going to charge her a lower rate for the computer only stuff.
     
  8. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #8
    Think about it this way: when the computer is rendering, it can't be used for anything else, meaning it can't be used for another client's work. Therefore there is an opportunity cost to having the computer sitting there rendering. If she were using a professional service, I'm sure they would charge for the time their computer was tied up. There's no reason you can't do the same.

    If you want to cut her a deal, which is fair enough and very nice of you, then I would suggest charging half time or some reduced rate for the times the computer is working, but you aren't. Or just quote her a price for the whole project, and don't talk about it in terms of an hourly rate. That might be the easiest. :)
     
  9. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #9
    I never charge if I don't have to be there watching the screen. Its better for me and better for the consumer. I have better **** to do anyways. :D
     

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