People often don’t realize how much work freelancers do that they DON’T get paid for. Even I don’t usually realize it because I only time myself when I’m doing the “paid” work (like actual web design and development). But what else is there?
- Doing taxes/accounting.
- Marketing your skills and trying to get new clients.
- Chasing leads — talking to potential clients and drawing up price quotes/estimates for them.
- Emailing existing clients to talk about the work (but not actually DOING the work).
- Providing support for pre-made products. (You could argue that’s included in the original price, but these are still hours you’re not regularly being paid for.)
- Updating your own website(s). (It’s important to stay updated and modern to make a good impression.)
See what I mean? That’s a lot of work that you’re not getting necessarily getting paid for!
So I thought I’d spend a week tracking my time and figuring out how many unpaid hours I’m working per week. Honestly, this was a terrible experience LOL. I’d have loved to do this more often so I could get more data than just a single week, but I’m never doing this again. I don’t mind my unpaid hours so much, but it sucks when I have to remember to start a timer every time I go to respond to an email or support ticket. I HATED IT! So you’re only getting one week of data, sorry. 😛
Taxes/Accounting: 1 hour, 17 minutes
This week, I had to do my normal accounting work, which involves logging some transactions into my accounting system. But I also had to do some things for taxes, including signing up for VATMOSS, which required a phone call to HMRC. Blegh. It was not fun.
Book Host Support: 2 hours, 42 minutes
Now arguably, I am being paid for this since people have their monthly packages. The reason I’m including it though is because I kind of do hourly work but I’m not being paid hourly. I get paid a fixed amount per month from each client, regardless of how much support I actually provide for them. So, yes, I’m still sort of getting paid, but I’m including this anyway because I’m not being paid based on the AMOUNT of work I do. Make sense?
This kind of support has two main parts:
- Answering support tickets.
- Performing free migrations.
Chasing Leads: 1 hour, 35 minutes
I probably would have spent more time on this if I was actually accepting new orders. My services page is closed right now so people can’t even fill out the “hire me” form. But I still get some emails from previous/regular clients and I still had some proposal write ups and invoices to send out.
Support for Pre-Mades: 1 hour, 53 minutes
This usually just involves responding to support tickets (for my premade plugins and themes). But now and then I also have to login to a customer’s site to do debugging with the code or their settings.
Emailing Existing Clients: 43 minutes
This just includes emailing my current clients. This is going over ideas, getting feedback on mockups, etc. It’s not the time I actually spend designing or developing; it’s just the email communication we have.
Unpaid Helping / Coding: 15 minutes
Okay it was actually a lot more than 15 minutes.. I was just so terrible at starting the timer for this one. Most of the work I did was just answering quick questions and I’d forget to time myself. >_<
But this was basically doing any work for someone that wasn’t really my “responsibility” (had nothing to do with my themes/support/plugins/hosting/etc.) but they asked for help anyway and I gave it.
Total Time: Almost 8.5 hours
At my hourly rate of $50, that’s $425 per week that I’m potentially not being paid for. That’s $1,700 per month! That’s a massive chunk of money. This is almost like being required to come into work on a Saturday, but not being paid for that day.
Now, I’m not complaining or anything. As I said, I don’t mind these unpaid hours. In fact, answering support tickets is actually one of my favourite parts of the day. I just enjoy them for some reason. But I think it’s really interesting to look at all the hours that freelancers put in that aren’t necessarily in part of their actual services (design/development).
I’m never doing this again
As I said initially, I’m never ever EVER doing this again. Having to log my time was actually more annoying than doing the work itself. So I hope you enjoyed this post because it’s never happening again. 😛