Re: Question about price quotes and time estimates?

Subject: Re: Question about price quotes and time estimates?
From: Deborah Hemstreet <dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com>
To: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 15:06:48 -0400


Thanks so much for your quick and clear reply.

For me the issue was indeed the amount of time I would have had to
invest in the writing. The topic matter was one I am familiar with, but
not enough so to do it without spending some time reading, researching
and reviewing to be sure I had it down right. I am sure someone more
knowledgeable could to the project more quickly.

Thanks, as always, for your wise advice!


Geoff Hart wrote:
> Deborah Hemstreet wondered: <<For technical writing time estimates:
> I've been taught that the standard for a new page of writing is
> approximately 5 hours of work per page.>>
> That's an entirely meaningless rule of thumb, and should never be used
> for any kind of serious calculations, such as quoting a price. The
> rate varies enormously among writers, but more importantly, it varies
> enormously among topics for any given writer. For examle, a page of
> text that requires careful testing followed by long discussion with
> SMEs to learn the details can take an order of magnitude longer than a
> page that can be written using nothing more than a functional
> specification or a glance at the interface.
> Though it's tempting to assume that the two types of page will cancel
> out to yield an average of 5 hours per page, it would be unwise to
> make that assumption. The only useful way to figure out pricing is to
> learn your own productivity for different types of work, and then
> apply that to a careful analysis of the nature of the job. For some
> thoughts on how to do this:
> To be safe, make sure you clearly understand the details of the job
> before you even think about creating an estimate.
> <<I was advised that the person wants 15 web pages, no more than 300
> words per page, written within 15-20 hours. Does this seem reasonable
> to you?>>
> That comes to a total of no more than 4500 words in (say) 15 hours,
> which means 300 words per hour. You can probably type that much in
> about 5 minutes, but the real question is how long it will take you to
> research the content for each page so you can produce those 300 words.
> That can clearly take much longer than 5 minutes.
> Never forget that there will generally be at least 1 revision cycle,
> in which the client reviews your work and asks for changes. That can
> increase your time requirement significantly. Be sure to specify that
> they get 1 round of revisions as part of the original price, and that
> all subsequent revisions will be billed at your standard hourly rate
> of $X. It increases the likelihood of the reviews being done right the
> first time, though there are no guarantees.
> <<What if I am only marginally familiar with the subject matter? That
> is, I know what it's about, but I would have to invest time to write
> something better. I've always been told that less is more - in quality
> and in time.>>
> Less is indeed more, more or less. <g> But the problem is that it
> often takes longer to write something concisely than it does to
> blather on for pages until you've covered all the details. The problem
> is that you must come to understand something reasonably deeply before
> you can identify the essence -- that which is essential. Having done
> so, you can then write only that essence and ignore the rest of the
> stuff you might have been tempted to write. But identifying the
> essence can take time, and the less familiar you are with the subject,
> the more time it will take.
> <<The person wants me to base everything on existing material, but to
> avoid plagiarism, I would, essentially need to rewrite everything.>>
> It's not plagiarism if the client owns the existing material. Of
> course, if someone other than the client owns the material, then yes,
> you'd have to rewrite from scratch to avoid plagiarism. But if you've
> successfully written essays and term papers, you probably understand
> the concept of summarizing someone else's words in your own words, so
> that shouldn't be a problem. The only time this is a problem is if the
> sources you're using did the job perfectly, and you'd have a hard time
> doing an equally good job without quoting them. In that case, it may
> be ethical to simply suggest that the client buy those words from the
> copyright holder. <g>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Geoff Hart (
> ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Effective Onscreen Editing:
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 2009 is your all-in-one authoring and publishing
solution. Author in Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word or
HTML and publish to the Web, Help systems or printed manuals.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:

Acrobat 9.0 Professional text edits a no-go: From: poshedly
Re: Acrobat 9.0 Professional text edits a no-go: From: Jay Maechtlen
Re: Question about price quotes and time estimates: From: Deborah Hemstreet
Question about price quotes and time estimates?: From: Geoff Hart

Previous by Author: Re: Question about price quotes and time estimates
Next by Author: Another term for cutting edge or forefront or vanguard
Previous by Thread: Question about price quotes and time estimates?
Next by Thread: RE: Question about price quotes and time estimates

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads