Re: ANON: Billing clients

Subject: Re: ANON: Billing clients
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2013 11:17:38 -0700

If you are online 9-5, then you are working full-time for Client 1. If you also do work for Client 2 during that time, then you are double-billing. If you are a full service business and you are normally online 9-5, then you should not bill for your wait time, since you are already there and being online is a part of your regular business.

I really like Peter's suggestion of getting a retainer and billing a day rate. You may want to do that and to set one or two hours per day or one day per week of exclusive time for Client 1, so they can pay you for thumb-twiddling and you do not have to give up other work just to "check-in" at a cost expense to yourself. You will also bill for the work that you do for Client 1. Gene provided great suggestions for billing for your time even when there is no work.

"My contract doesn't specify hours of availability, just that I am available during normal working hours."

Your contract is too vague. How do you bill for checking email, phone calls with Client 1, and making yourself "available" when you have other work? I would renegotiate the contract to include a clause that defines "availability" and stipulates how the client will pay for availability. This should not be a free service for your client.

Also, you may have state employment laws that come into play. For example, in California, being available, whether the contractor is on-site or remote, will likely make that contractor an employee, unless the contractor is incorporated. Employees are barred from working free when they are paid for working. All hours of "being available" for the client are billable, provided those hours are exclusive to the client.

You should look into your state's laws to determine if your contract complies with state employment laws and if you are complying with state business laws. Under California law, you would likely need a business license to work as you are working. If you can be sued by your clients, then you would also want to consider incorporation, not sole proprietor, but creating a separate entity for your business. Talk to a lawyer or an accountant about these matters.

You could incorporate yourself and make yourself a business. Then bill Client 1 for your daily availability and bill for hours worked on a project. If there is a rush project, then bill extra for those hours. There have been a lot of good suggestions for how to structure that.

On 4/12/2013 6:53 AM, Anonymous wrote:

I have two independent contracts that I'm working simultaneously. On one of
them, call it Client 1, I'm getting old documents to work on very
sporadically. I need to be on line 9-5, checking my email frequently, in
case they send me something, in which case it needs a very rapid
turnaround. The work I do only takes me an hour to an hour and a half per
document, but I might get one document every other day.

Since I'm working another contract during the off-times, I feel like I
should only charge Client 1 for the actual work I do. On the other hand, I
feel like I should charge them something for being so constantly available.

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