Figuring out Billable Hours & Rates

Need help calculating billable hours? Or figuring out the rate you should be billing at? Here two of my favorite cool tools — they work well for freelancers of all sorts: designers, programmers, artists, and more. I almost lost track of these links. I couldn’t find them in google so I had to grab them from a bookmarks backup. So I’m saving them here, along with my two cents…

For the billable hours calculator, all you have to do is create a text file for each project. Open it in Windows Notepad. Press F5 to ‘clock in’ — add any notes you want on new lines, then press F5 again to clock out. When you’re done, run it through this cool tool: http://monsterguitars.com/hours/… and that’s it!

Along the same lines, have you ever wondered how much you should be charging per hour as a freelancer? Who hasn’t really at one point or another? You know the feeling.. all the professionals charge hourly rates that seem out of this world, and even if your really great work seems just as good as theirs, you can’t seem to justify charging as much as THEY do. Well guess what? They wouldn’t be professionals if they couldn’t actually survive doing their thing. When you try to charge, say, an hourly rate you’d expect if you were employed full time by another company, you can’t make ends meet — or you’re forced to take on tons and tons of projects, making you work overtime, or squeeze in the work after hours. Quality suffers … or you suffer… and suddenly you don’t feel so professional anymore.

What’s the problem here? It’s all the non-billable hours and other costs it takes to make a business work. As a web developer, for example, you need to take time to stay on top of technology. You also need to hire a marketer and/or work on marketing yourself. Plus there’s software purchases, your connection to pay for, not to mention the equipment and your office space. Or, as a designer, I for one have hard time charging for the time I spend soaking in the bathub hoping aromatherapy will somehow restore my creative brain cells; my projects are on my mind even then. Or if you’re a musician, how do you bill your practice time? Need I say more?

This nifty Hourly Rate Calculator from FreelanceSwitch will help you get an idea of what you have to charge to live the way you want to live. And if you plan to live as exorbitantly as you previously thought the Pros did, you’ll notice your rates are QUITE high. Be sure to plan for time to hone your skills! Be Great!

And, just for fun (Don’t worry clients of mine, I’m not this exacting.. then again I do work TWO jobs .. ;-))

And, if you’re a client wondering whether you can afford a real profesional, don’t forget the value their services provide. I’ll write more on that another day.

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