Re: Hourly Rates for Contract Writers

Subject: Re: Hourly Rates for Contract Writers
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 1995 08:36:43 PDT

>This seems like a good time to bring up the subject of how consulting
>techwhirlers set their rates. Guidelines anyone?

It depends on the market, it depends on your expertise, and it depends
on what your services are.

If your role is basically that of a temporary employee, where, conceptually,
they give you a desk next to an existing tech writer and you do similar
things, the rule of thumb I've heard many times is to charge double
what you'd get as an employee. An easy (and mostly accurate) conversion

Contracting $/hour = Employed ($/year)/1000

So a $50,000/year technical writer should, by this rule of thumb,
charge $50/hour as a contractor. This seems to be a common ratio.
I don't claim it has any inherent merit.

In a traditional consulting role, where you are brought in to perform
services that do not exist in-house, and working to the client's specifi-
cations, but not under direction, then the money tends to be better.
Doctors, dentists, accountants, and plumbers tend to fall into this
category. The money is better because the consultant is paying for
all the overhead. Temporary employees (and most contractors) use
client-provided equipment in client-provided offices under client-provided
supervision. Traditional consultants provide their own equipment,
offices, and supervision. (Rather than being supervised, they write
the proposals themselves, and work on their own once the client signs
off. You don't expect to look over your accountant's shoulder, for

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon * Writer * robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (408) 321-8771
4271 North First Street, #106 * San Jose * California * 95134-1215
"Writing is like plumbing -- even people who know how to do it will
pay top dollar to keep their hands clean."

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