In an ideal world, we’d be kept busy with client work every hour of every day and send in lovely big invoices at the end of the month.
But how many days’ work do you actually need to do in order to earn a salary you’re happy with?
The figures I’m using here are hypothetical but, say, you wanted to earn £3,000 a month and your hourly rate is £50, it doesn’t take a mathemetical genius to work out you need to bill 60 hours a month.
Two weeks a month
If you aim to put in six billable hours a day (don’t forget the distractions you’ll encounter and the procrastination), you’ll only have to work two weeks a month to earn £3,000. FANTASTIC, I hear you say. That’s the same salary as I was earning as an employee, yet I only have to work half as much!
But, before you start working out how you’re going to while away all this newly-found time, there’s all the other stuff you need to do that you DON’T get paid for.
I’m talking about the marketing activities you need to be implementing (otherwise how will you get those 60 hours of work in the first place?). Then there are new business meetings to attend, networking sessions, day-to-day admin….and so on.
Here’s a monthly timetable that showed how I spent my time last month.
- Billable client work: 10 days
- Marketing activity: 2 days
- New client meetings: 1 day
- Networking lunches: 0.75 day
- Training seminar: 0.5 day
- E-learning course: 0.75 day
- Admin (VAT, invoices, accounts etc): 1 day
- Meeting with accountant: 0.25 day
- Submitting quotes/work examples: 0.5 day
- Unproductive time: 1 day
- Blogging and social networking: 2.25 days
- Days off: 2 days
This comes to a total of 22 days – that’s the number of working days in a month when there aren’t any public holidays. So, although I’ve spent 10 days on client work, I’ve actually spent 20 days on my freelance business, plus I had two days off.
So, your hypothetical hourly rate of £50 is actually about half this, when you take into account all the time you need to spend running and promoting your freelance business.
How many billable hours do you aim to charge each month?