New Freelance Writer - Any Tips?

Subject: New Freelance Writer - Any Tips?
From: Linda Gallagher <73654 -dot- 1420 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 18:45:52 EST

I've been an independent for two years now and here are my thought on
your questions.

How do you estimate projects?

Estimating projects is more art than science and depends on your own abilities.
I lean toward working on an hourly basis with an **estimate** of the total
included. I started to use benchmark of 2-4 hours per page to start, but then
that I work at the low end of that range. The most important thing I have done
improve my estimating is to track my hours for every project and calculate the
hours per page at the end. I keep the summary on one piece of paper and
jot notes about the complexities of the project. I use that summary to help me
estimate new projects.

How often do you bill?

Billiing depends on the type of project. If it is a project price, I ask for 1/3
I start, 1/3 upon delivery of a draft, and 1/3 upon submission of the final
Some clients are OK with that and some are not. For an hourly project, I
ask to bill biweekly. I always seek payment in net 10 days. If clients balk, I
to net 30. I always put a due date on the invoice itself so there is no

How do you itemize your hours for clients?

This again depends on the client. Some require a time sheet that shows the hours
I spent each day and a brief description of what I did. I always put a general
description on the invoice, such as, "Drafted xxx manual and tested help file."
I put the total number of hours @ $xx and show the total.

If you write user documents, do you *have* to use Frame- or Pagemaker?

I own WordPerfect, Word 6.0, and FrameMaker. I avoid WordPerfect like the
I find many clients want me to use Word 6.0 which I can live with. I would like
use FrameMaker again, but have had no opportunity to do so. If you know one or
more of these tools, you can learn another. You may have to convince a potential
client of this. I have been able to.

I hope this helps the new freelancers out there.

Linda Gallagher - Certified Doc-To-Help Consultant
TechCom Plus
73654 -dot- 1420 -at- compuserve -dot- com

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