Contracting/Freelancing question: what is billable?

Subject: Contracting/Freelancing question: what is billable?
From: Tracey Bean <traceybean -at- verizon -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 08 Aug 2008 14:28:33 -0400

Hi all -- I'm sure this has come up before, but I've not been able to
find anything recent in the archives.

I'm doing some freelance work at the moment. I'm puzzled as to which
activities are billable and which are not. The client has not
specified anything -- they're a small company. Most of the people on
the project are contracting, on site, through agencies. I'm a 1099
employee, working off site.

When I've contracted as a W-2 employee at a client site through an
agency, I did whatever the client had me do -- learn applications,
edit, write, attend meetings, wash the manager's car... okay, not that
one. Anything I did for them was billable.

The first thing the client wanted me to do was to help them select a
help authoring tool. We agreed what I would do, I did it, I billed
them, they paid me. So far, so good. Their on-site agency contractor
has since left the project. I was asked to take over the writing
duties, create the help, the printed doc, the whole shebang.

I am confident that these activities are billable:
-- learning their application (in order to document it, not to get a
job using it, obviously)
-- creating the various requested deliverables: researching, writing,
soliciting/incorporating feedback... all the "normal" production
-- participating in teleconferences
-- attending on-site meetings

What I'm unsure about:

1. Time spent learning Flare
2. Time spent learning CSS well enough to work with Flare

The client knows that I did not know how to use Flare. Even though I
recommended it to them, I am not an expert in its use. (I could write
a short store, at the very least, on the inherent illogic in this
situation, truly, I could. However, it is what it is.)

So is the time I spend learning to use the tool billable, given that
they knew going in that I would have to learn it?

3. Time spent traveling to on-site meetings (over an hour each way;
hasn't happened yet, but we've talked about the possibility)

Is there a standard approach to travel time?



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