I came across an interesting discussion on a work at home parent board yesterday. The question related to how much pay you require per project, and it was a great question for those of us who are involved in some type of freelance or contract work from home, where you set your hours and your salary scale.
Many factors are involved when it comes to determining how much we are worth per project. For instance, how long will the project take? How involved is the project? Does it require travel? Does it require a babysitter?
I´ll share a personal story. I took on a freelance job I´d found online. The job was great. I liked the content that I was writing, and I enjoy developing newsletters. The pay? Not so great. But the hours were such that I could work while my daughter slept, so I didn´t need to pay for her babysitter to come like I do when I have a large web design or brochure project due.
Over the weeks, the project grew and grew until it consumed more than five hours a week. I had to contact my babysitter and, of course, since the hours of the job increased the hourly wage decreased. Here in Southern California we pay $10 an hour and more for a babysitter (most charge $12). So, by the time a month had passed I was expected to complete a large quantity of work for a small rate of pay and I needed a babysitter in order to handle the load. In the end, I was paying out more for the babysitter in an hourly wage than I was bringing in working the project. So, I asked for either more money or less work.
In another example, I just finished writing a press release for one client who is working a side job but had an interview for a second job. While she liked the second job, she found that the money it would cost to travel and pay for the extra time in babysitting would not equal enough to make the job worth the salary.
We all have to balance how much our time is worth. As working mothers, we also have to figure in things like time off for sick children, travel time, daycare costs, and additional factors. So, as I considered all of these after reading the posts on the bulletin board, I realized that the next time around, I would not take a job that pays less just because I enjoy the content. Why? It´s not worth taking the time away from my family and my other jobs.
I developed a list of how I could figure out whether or not the job was worth the salary and I came up with the following. I´d love to hear from you on how else you might determine whether a job would be worth the salary or not.
* Commute time-here in Southern California, forty miles can equal two hours or more depending upon the time of day. Time is money if your children are in childcare.
* Hourly wage-just an obvious here
* Childcare costs-babysitters are at least $10 an hour, and several I interviewed charge $12-$15. The babysitter I have now charges an additional $5 a day because she has to drive over twenty miles to get to the job. I chose her because I really, really like her and the $5 is worth it, but it does sometimes determine whether I use her for the day or not.
* How much time is involved on the project? How much time each day are you spending on the job and how much does that equal out to as an hourly rate? Then how much does that leave over for the rest of the costs associated with working the particular job (commute time, childcare, clothes, etc)?
* What are others making that are doing this work? This will depend upon your experience, of course. If you are just starting out in a field you can´t expect to make the same as someone who has been there for many years. However, you should know the going rate for the job, at least an average, so you know whether or not you are making what you should. Once you have experience, you can and should charge more.
* Is there room for negotiation? If you end up working more hours and the hourly rate slides down, will you be able to negotiate for more pay?