Freelance - how to charge contact/worktime outside of booked days?

(23 Posts)
SusanQalent Tue 25-Jun-13 23:22:24

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

buildingmycorestrength Thu 09-May-13 15:59:06

Result, and a good reminder for all of us that we can set boundaries!

WilsonFrickett Thu 09-May-13 15:41:18

We should get this thread stickied - set your boundaries and they will respect them - and if they don't, you don't want them as a client anyway.

tigerlilygrr Thu 09-May-13 14:58:25

Great result! Well done!

chummymummy7 Thu 09-May-13 14:53:29

So client has come back to my on call fee email with an offer of either one full day's work or 2 mornings per week, with anything falling outside this charged on a pro-rata basis.

I'm v happy with this, will mean far less fiddly stop clock business and less email check ins.

Just want to thank you all for your sympathy and advice biscuit

WilsonFrickett Thu 09-May-13 11:34:43

That's more than reasonable - well done.

chummymummy7 Thu 09-May-13 09:12:41

Thanks do much for all the useful advice. I have 2 other regular clients who take up about 3-4 hours each a week.

Tbh the work coming through in dribs and drabs seems to works quite well around the dds, as I can do it in the evenings or when I grab a quiet moment.

As for the 'on call' work, thanks to the advice here I've laid some boundaries about the hours I can do that and asked for a base rate of half my normal Hourly rate for being available, rising to full hourly rate for any hours worked. They might tell me to stick it, but I think that's v reasonable for giving up spontaneous days out with my kids and 'other clients'!

lemonygem Wed 08-May-13 18:52:50

(arrrrgh! S o rry for double post on knee!!!)

lemonygem Wed 08-May-13 18:52:04

My best bit of advice would be to set up an Out Of Office when you're not "in the office", and when you are at work, set up an Out Of Office which states on the responder, "Please note that I only check email at x time and y time" - nothing more annoying than a client assuming that just because email exists, that means you're basically on call 24-7. And don't feel bad leaving an email for a few hours (perhaps even a day!) even when a client says it's urgent, will quite often be magically not quite so urgent when you have the time to get back to it.

Stop responding to all of the emails, because that also just says "hey, I'm totally down with all these emails, keep 'em coming!", and instead email them to say something along the lines of,

"It's refreshing that you're strongly involved in our projects together, but I work much more efficiently when I receive fewer emails with more points to cover. It does eat into your allotted time together, and I want to dedicate that time to writing great copy for you."

It's all about establishing boundaries, and if you don't do it, the client will (and I think most of us here can attest to having that happen at one point or another!!)

Another thing, have you set up a contract? That can often cool the perpetual dribs and drabs of work - not sure if you work remotely or not, but I've used Echo Sign https://www.echosign.adobe.com/en/home.html as a awesome way to have a contract that gets agreed to. If not, at least have your Ts & Cs set up with how you work and make sure the client gets a copy!

Good luck!

lemonygem Wed 08-May-13 18:47:03

My best bit of advice would be to set up an Out Of Office when you're not "in the office", and when you are at work, set up an Out Of Office which states on the responder, "Please note that I only check email at x time and y time" - nothing more annoying than a client assuming that just because email exists, that means you're basically on call 24-7. And don't feel bad leaving an email for a few hours (perhaps even a day!) even when a client says it's urgent, will quite often be magically not quite so urgent when you have the time to get back to it.

Stop responding to all of the emails, because that also just says "hey, I'm totally down with all these emails, keep 'em coming!", and instead email them to say something along the lines of,

"It's refreshing that you're strongly involved in our projects together, but I work much more efficiently when I receive fewer emails with more points to cover. It does eat into your allotted time together, and I want to dedicate that time to writing great copy for you."

It's all about establishing boundaries, and if you don't do it, the client will (and I think most of us here can attest to having that happen at one point or another!!)

Another thing, have you set up a contract? That can often cool the perpetual dribs and drabs of work - not sure if you work remotely or not, but I've used Echo Sign https://www.echosign.adobe.com/en/home.html as a awesome way to have a contract that gets agreed to. If not, at least have your Ts & Cs set up with how you work and make sure the client gets a copy!

Good luck!

tigerlilygrr Wed 08-May-13 18:18:23

The tip about 'other clients' (kids) is genius, I will do that in my job from now on! One of those ideas that's so simple you can't believe you haven't thought of it before!

badguider Wed 08-May-13 17:24:57

fwiw - i wouldn't do 'on call' days, and definitely not after I have my baby. I want to be working and earning, or not working... not somewhere inbetween.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Wed 08-May-13 17:19:45

Lots of empathy and sensible advice on here already.

They need to pay you when you are working. Expecting you to read a 16 page doc (for free by the sound of it) when you are with small kids isn't on and I think it will frustrate/stress you and potentially disappoint them.

As others have said if you want to be on call you might as well be employed and at least benefit from a pension blah blah.

I think they are trying it on...to have PR expertise for a few days a month is saving them so much compared to an employee or retained agency.

As an aside if you do want to track your time, I use paymo (cannot link easily as on phone). It is free and has an app too, it has an easy to use reporting tool which helps for creating invoices.

Good luck.

badguider Wed 08-May-13 15:10:00

Are they under the impression that they've bought you for 16-24 hours a months spread through the month rather than 2-3 actual days? If so, are you ok with that?

How do those 16-24hours to match up with the 'thursday and friday on-call days'? do they expect those hours to fall on those days only? or do they expect to buy more hours at short on those days which you'll then bill for in addition?

Also, what days do you work? Do you have other clients?

I am freelance fwith a bunch of different clients - one gets half a day a week, another three days a week, most others get a set number of days in a given time period.... with my half a day a week client if i exceed that I just say 'sorry, that'll have to wait until next week' and with the 3-day a week job when I get a new request I just say 'that can be done by next tuesday, unless you'd like me to do it instead of the thing i'm working on right now?'. I check email for other clients when I'm on a day for one client but I don't check all the time as I often travel and attend meetings....

Are you clear in your own head how many days or hours a week you work in total vs when you're off work doing family duties?

WilsonFrickett Wed 08-May-13 14:57:16

Yep, I have also dropped in 'Sorry, I'm on the clock for someone else, you wouldn't want my attention wandering when I was on the clock for you, would you?' in a sweet manner...

buildingmycorestrength Wed 08-May-13 14:54:22

I also use the phrase 'not at my desk that day/right now' in combination (as needed) with 'I'd prefer to give this my full attention'. Works well for me and avoids mentioning the k-i-d-s.

WilsonFrickett Wed 08-May-13 14:51:02

Riiiiight.
Reading emails and shit on my days off for no pay was why I stopped being an employed worker! So you need to nip this in the bud.

1. Do you want to do the oncall work? If not, then 'I'm sorry, that doesn't work for me' is your friend. If you do, well I charge my full day rate for on call or standby days. That might focus your client's minds.

2. I'd start talking about 'other clients' rather than 'children'. So the next time they send you something to 'skim' I would email by return saying 'so sorry, I am working for someone else today, I'll get to this x.'

3. How you invoice for your reading time depends if you're charging per job (in which case include it in your overall fee) or per hour (in which case add it to your timesheet and charge as normal)

But really, it sounds to me like they want the benefit of an employee (constantly on call) by paying a freelancer (2 - 3 days a month) and that's not on.

buildingmycorestrength Wed 08-May-13 13:46:36

I found this type of client too much with small kids. I wanted clear terms of reference...that is why I am a freelancer, not an employee.

lovefreelance Wed 08-May-13 12:33:03

Hello, I've been freelancing from home with kids for four years now and have come across these kind of situations many times smile

For your first problem, the way I handle it depends on the client. If it's for a one-off job I factor this time into the quote I give them upfront. Or if they send me (as some do!) sixteen long attachments or emails in place of a concise brief after I've quoted, I go back and say I need more direction/clarity, and ask them to provide only the information that is relevant.

If it's an ongoing client, I generally set some reasonable guidelines for working. By being too polite and too obliging, you'll end up resenting them in the long term and start hating your work - which is no good for anyone. Instead I would politely make it clear that you will be available for working between X and Y hours, and will read through any emails and documents then (when you're being paid to). It's a bit cheeky to suggest that you can continually read their emails and documents while you're with your kids!

For the on call request, I would work it around your convenience. Eg, like you say, emailing them each week when you'll be at home and able to work if they need you. Otherwise, if they want the flexibility of having you on hand 'just in case' they need to offer you some kind of payment - especially if you may be rearranging your life or plans on the off-chance you may be needed to work.

As a general observation, your client is being a bit cheeky - that's not to say they're not a good client! - and you just need to be clear with yourself and with them about what you are and aren't happy to do, and when.

tigerlilygrr Wed 08-May-13 07:37:43

Hmm yes that's a bit off! It sounds like this is early days though so you've got time to set some boundaries. Best of luck!

chummymummy7 Tue 07-May-13 23:16:22

That is all really helpful tigergrrrl, thanks.

I was very hmm when said client sent a lengthy doc that needs reading, adding that I could just skim through it while with my kids . To me, that seems to imply it would be uncharged work - and also really blurs that all important boundary between work and family time.

tigerlilygrr Tue 07-May-13 22:00:32

I'm not a freelancer but I have worked with many of them and these are my thoughts:
1. Yes, you should charge for email time etc, but I would think about how to present it. I think you can either charge for the hours worked, or charge a sum equivalent to say three hours per week for email responses, based on average time taken. I would email then to state your terms, or offer them the choice ... You may find they value the predictable second option even if it's a little more expensive. Ask for everything to be sent to a single email, not a mix of work and home ... I think using two makes it feel like a favour when it's not.
2. It's really up to you whether you want to work extra hours or not, but personally I would be a bit more specific. So for example "I will always let you know within one hour if I can complete the work or not" or "generally I will be free from 2-4pm but before and after that I'm unlikely to be able to help". Hopefully that will help you set some professional boundaries.

chummymummy7 Tue 07-May-13 21:08:11

I'm a freelance copywriter/PR consultant. Recently I picked up a new client, under the basis that I'd be working 2-3 days a month for them.

However, rather than the 2-3 set days of work I had expected - which works well for planning childcare - so far, separate jobs are coming in outside of booked days. I'm also getting a fairly constant flow of emails throughout the day, many of which need responding to -all of which need to be glanced at just in case. A fair few emails have had docs attached, which I've needed to be read/listened to etc.

This takes up quite a bit of my time. I've asked for anything urgent to be sent to my personal email address, but am feeling obliged to check into the work email address regularly as stuff keeps coming through.

Client has now asked to book me in for four further days work this month. Also - they've now said they'd like me to be 'on call' on Thursdays and Fridays for fast response type work. The message was we obv don't expect you to work these days but if you're not going to be around for cover - do let us know so we can arrange something else.

My questions are: 1) Should I be charging for time spent sorting through /reading/responding to emails outside of booked days? If so - how - and do I need to square this with them first or just add it to the weekly job sheet they give me??

2) How should I handle this "on call" request? I don't really want the prospect of work hanging over my head on non-work days with my DDs, but then again, the occasional extra job cld be possible. My mum often comes to help me with DDs (aged 3 and 1). However - I can't rely on that 100% which makes responding to urgent work requests tricky - should I let them know my availability week by week?

Long-winded I know, sorry. It just feels like this client is taking up more time than I'd expected. I don't want to be taken advantage of or be unassertive about charging for my time.

Any advice?? Thanks.

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