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Subject:Re: New Freelance Writer - Any Tips? From:Yvonne DeGraw <yvonne -at- SILCOM -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 6 Dec 1995 08:05:16 -0700
Marie Clear <Mclear3000 -at- AOL -dot- COM> asked:
> I've already got some consulting work looming (if all goes well in
> an upcoming interview) but I'd love some advice from other independents:
I just got started as an independent a few months ago, so I'm no expert.
But, here goes. Feedback from the real experts is welcome.
> How do you estimate projects?
So far, I've been charging by the hour but giving the client an idea of the
maximum time I expect the project to take. I'll probably do some bids by
the project in the future since I work pretty quickly. Most clients seem
happy paying by the hour. They probably end up paying less that way (hence
my incentive to start bidding by the project).
I learned to make estimates when I was an employee. I made a point of
tracking the amount of time I spent on a project (excluding ever-present
interruptions) and estimated my pages/day on a variety of projects. This
wasn't required by my employer, and I didn't always tell them the results.
The numbers were for *me* -- so that I could make better estimates the next
time around. Remember that different projects have different degrees of
difficulty -- so you'll never get a fixed number for pages/day.
Then for a project, you have to make a guess at # of pages or "page
equivalents" if this isn't for paper publication (or write a *really*
> How often do you bill?
Once or twice a month depending on the number of hours I'm spending on the
client's project. If you bid by the project, you may just bill the project
in thirds at startup, the middle, and the end.
> How do you itemize your hours for clients?
I use Quickbooks software to print invoices. I itemize hours if I am
working on different deliverables -- like different pages in their Web
site. "Shenson on Consulting" by Howard L. Shenson has a good section
showing the advantages of itemizing the invoice -- basically it's to make
the accounting people feel secure paying the bill.
> If you write HTML, do you have to know how to script for forms?
It helps. There are some fairly simple shareware programs out there if all
you want to do is email the form contents to someone. You install the
program and point to a text file that contains the formatting for the mail
message. (I think it's called cgiemail and you can probably find a link to
it in Yahoo.)
> If you write user documents, do you *have* to use Frame- or Pagemaker?
No. But it helps to know enough software to be quick at learning the next
one. Often, you can get the client to buy the software license for you.
Hope this helps ... or at least fosters useful discussion.
Yvonne DeGraw, Technical Services o Web Authoring
yvonne -at- silcom -dot- com o Technical Writing http://www.silcom.com/~yvonne/ o Database Design and Publishing
Tel: 805/683-5784 o User-Interface Design