what am i worth?

Subject: what am i worth?
From: Bill Swallow <bill_swallow -at- ROCKETMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 09:08:31 -0800

I've seen many discussions like this on the list. You are worth
exactly what you think you should be worth.

[soapbox mode enabled]

I had the opportunity to consult for two years. I was a salaried
consultant who billed time out hourly, and the money taken in went
back to my employer. My going rate was anywhere between $75 and $125
an hour for the following services:
* appraisal
* usability and needs research
* team direction
* online documentation solutions

And this was in the CT/NY/NJ area. And yes, I was working year round,
full time. But I was also working for large financial, insurance,
technology and manufacturing companies (companies in the tens of
thousands of employees).

General needs jobs were billed at the $75-$100/hour rate, while "need
it yesterday" and "help, we're SOL and need to get back on top NOW"
jobs were billed higher.

You have to consider 1) the company that needs the work done 2) what
they need done 3) the timeframe for the work 4) the resources at your
disposal and 5) the conditions (travel, contact time, access rights,

Not to bash anyone's ability, but I wouldn't think that a $10/hr tech
writer would produce the same quality and timely documentation as one
that charges more. I hate to use this analogy, but it's the difference
between an ambulance chaser and a high stakes lawyer. In business
today, the rule of thumb is "you get what you pay for". You may be
missing out on the big opportunities by not charging more (and if you
up your rates, be prepared to back that move up with substantial proof
that you deserve more).

A final devil's advocate thought:
If we all start charging more, will the industry decide that we cost
too much and move the work internally? It's a costly and risky move
for them, but if they hire the right people the initial cash outlay
will soon be justified and replenished.

[soapbox mode disengaged]

For the record, I now work in-house for a flat salary as a staff tech
writer. The change in the environment was nice because I now own
several projects for either their life or my duration. But I have to
admit, I do miss the challenge and perks of consulting from time to

Bill Swallow
bill_swallow -at- rocketmail -dot- com ~*~ http://surf.to/bill.swallow
TWS, f+, w, h+, ?+, lp, p(1), sc(N), si(Y), #(pound), ap-, ds-(impOK),
sty(home-grown, MMS), fs(Arial, Helvetica), fp(ITC Century, Times),
sp(American), re(2), pc(employee)

Be the change that you want to see in the world.
-- M. K. Gandhi

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