Friday, October 31, 2008

A Day of Pay

The other day I had a client request that I attend a seminar, which I am to cover for a custom publishing piece. She asked me how much I wanted to be paid for the day. That took some thought.

In the relatively brief time I've been freelancing, I have grown accustomed to working from the comfort of my home, oftentimes in my underwear. But sometimes a client requests that you actually leave your dwelling and attend something...with daylight. When this happens, you damn well better request they pay you for your time. Because the last thing any freelancer wants to do is wake up earlier than 9 am, wear a suit and ride a train downtown like a person with a real job.

But how do you come up with a day rate? Should it be a different rate than what you charge for writing? Does it depend on the event and how much work you will have to do there? For my assessment, I first broke the day down into hours. A full workday is 8 hours, so I decided to come up with an hourly rate and multiply it by 8. But what hourly rate should I charge? I typically bill a pretty penny for writing work since I provide quick turnaround and top quality. But this part of the project didn't involve writing. It just involved me sitting there and taking notes.

After wrestling with trying to nail down an hourly rate that A) was adequate for me and B) wouldn't scare away my client, I decided to take a different tactic. I estimated 20 workdays in the month. Then I calculated an adequate monthly pay and divided that by 20. And that was how I came up with my day rate. And my client was pleased with the number. Frankly I'm sure I lowballed myself a tiny bit, but mind you the second half the assignment (the written part) pays at my usual rate, so I was willing to give a discount for the promise of more pay on top.

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