Reality Blog: Just write already!

schoolgirl with pen writing down in notebook homework

Can you believe it’s April already? I don’t know where March went, but I do know I accomplished at least one of my goals: working less.

As a reminder, my goal for this year is to double my hourly rate so I can achieve my dream of making full-time money for part-time work (20 hours per week). This will allow me to have more time for the things I enjoy without taking a pay cut.

The problem is, while I managed to work an average of 21 hours per week last month, I was in front of the computer for over 40 hours per week.

Where did the difference — 19 hours per week — go? That’s about 76 hours for the whole month — over three solid days!

What did I do in front of the computer for that long? And (cringe) what did the wasted time do to my hourly rate?

What’s my hourly rate?

During the time I’m actually working, my hourly rate is all over the place. On some projects, I make a few hundred dollars per hour. (Yay!) But, on some projects, I make closer to $25 per hour. (Ekk!)

My hourly rate depends on a lot of factors, like the project (is it direct response or not?) and how focused I am. But, it’s clear I need to get more projects that pay in the higher range. I also need to waste less time on the computer so I’m more refreshed and focused when I’m actually writing.

If you factor in all the time I spent in front of the computer (over 40 hours per week), I’m making about $65 per hour — before taxes. (Remember, at least half of this time is completely wasted.)

This is unacceptable. If I’m in front of the computer, I need to be doing work that pays or getting work that pays. Otherwise, I need to get off the computer. That way, I’ll enjoy my life more and my rate when I’m actually working will be higher.

Note: When I say “hourly rate,” I’m not talking about the rate I give to clients. I price all my projects “by the project.” For example, if I tell a client $1,000 for a project and it takes me 10 hours, I made $100 per hour. The client only sees the $1,000 figure — not how long I spent on it. My hourly rate is just for me to make sure I’m reaching my own goals.

Time Tracking? Success!

This month, I took a stab at time tracking again. I failed pretty miserably in February, but this month I refocused and used a time-tracking method that works for me (pen and paper). After about a week of this process, something was obvious: I tend to waste the first half of every day.

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Christina Gillick

2 Comments

  • Thank you for sharing this Cristina. Your challenges with time remind me of my own.

    I’m not a morning person and find I’m most creative and energetic in mid afternoon thru early evening. What I trying to do, after the morning basics like breakfast and personal email, is to start around 9 or 10am. Write out copy from existing letters and review course material. Then after lunchtime, go out to run errands and work out. Upon returning is the time that is best for me to write.

    Unlike you, I’m not billing yet as I’m writing student focused on transitioning into Web writing, likely with an IT focus as I most recently worked in IT.

    While different people will have different schedules, the challenge, as you point out, is to avoid procrastination and stay focused on the priorities.

  • Hi Christopher,

    Thank you for the comment! It sounds like you have a very set schedule that works for you. Keep it up and I’m sure you’ll be working with clients in no time!

    Best,
    Christina

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