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Karma, the best client you can have

03/05/2014

On how being kind can be good for your career. Really! Recently I was asked how I got started as a freelancer. “Oh it was Karma really,” I replied. And this greasy sort sidled up.“Who’s Karma?” He said. “Are they hiring?”

Come to think about it, maybe ‘they’ were:See, it all started when I was agency side… Once a year I would host a day for visiting US students. It started off as a favour for a client, but we loved engaging with the students, so sunny and bright and we became a regular stop on the US tour. And this lone kind act, helped counter-balance those days when I used to lock myself in the office bathroom and recite, “I’m not paid to be popular,” before marching back out there to rain on someone’s parade.

A few years passed, then one day in 2010 the US tour organisers asked me if I knew of a senior comms consultant that could head up a London internship programme for media post grads for The USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.And I thought, that could be me that could…And within a week of resigning I was jetting off to LA

So that became my first freelance contract, going to LA and working with the sunniest people on the planet. We are on our fourth contract now and it’s one of the most satisfying projects I have. But it doesn’t stop there…As a result of that work, I gained a great understanding of the whole PR landscape, not just my bit. I also experienced first-hand how incredibly difficult it was to secure internships in our sector. So I volunteered my services with the Taylor Bennett Organisation  to share what I had learned with our home grown talent, helping the trainees prepare for their first roles in PR. I have been working with TBF for the last three years now, and I love it. I stay in touch with many of the trainees and it’s a huge buzz watching them develop and succeed in their careers…

And it didn’t stop there, either.  Chuffed to announce The Comms Crowd has just taken on our very first freelance junior. A TBF alum! You can only imagine what a difference she has made to the team, and by all accounts she’s pretty happy to be working with us too, being able to execute agency-calibre work but with the freedom of the freelance lifestyle.

But wait! There’s more! Courtesy of a recommendation from another TBF alum we have a new client, which is great of course, but this client happens to be the UK’s foremost skilled volunteer and charity matchmaker and itself is a massive force for good. In the UK alone GWYGA has enabled professionals working in IT, Finance, Marketing and HR to donate £12 million worth of their time to some 3,000 charities around the world.

And now we are helping out with the PR around that, spreading the word, which has to be a very good thing right?Thank you Karma, a pleasure doing business with you.

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The third year – finally finding our feet

01/03/2014

sam didn’t get a promotion or even a shoutout but she did get accredited

Sam Howard celebrates three years of being an independant PR person and shares the sometimes painful lessons learned.

The fabulous Victoria Wood once told this joke about how you lavish so much attention on your first child, that you go so far as to score the wall recording for all eternity your firstborn’s height with wonder and awe (since my 13 year old son is already clocking 6ft 3′ we are adding a soupçon of morbid fascination in to the mix now too). Anyhow she went on to remark that by the time you have your third child, you merely note their vertical progress by the rising  tide mark of nose smearings on your coat sleeve…

And so it is for freelancing. First year I had a cocktail party and people came from miles around, Second year I at least opened a bottle of champagne and shared it with those that happened to be passing. Third year, Feb 10th completely passed me by. Writing this, with a vodka and tonic in hand is as much as I can muster to commemorate the occasion. Just like a third child – it’s not that I love the freelance life any less, far from it, but just that I’m really busy – new clients, new projects, new sectors, new territories and I got accredited. Even the dog behaves pretty good now.So as is now customary, sharing a few random lessons learned this year:

Cautionary tale – Be careful how much time you allocate to individual pitches.

I have a strong agency background so I like pitching, the smell of the chase, and all that. But it is easy to get carried away, do some sums on the back of an envelope look at the potential gain and then assign a realtive cost to winning it. I completely lost it over the summer chasing a big account but where my personal gain was quite insignificant. I blame the heat.

Motivational moment – spread the skills spread the love

As you get busier you may feel inclined to focus on just the high value projects or to really specialize. For example, in line with the industry’s increased appetite for credible content, I have seen a surge in demand for copywriting  skills this year, but if I just did that all the time I’d burn out. Much better to have several diverse projects on the go, it keeps the mind agile. And even when you are busy, don’t’ forget to fill your boots with psychic income – my work with the Taylor Bennet Foundation continues to be the most fulfilling aspect of my freelance career.

Cautionary tale – mates rates have outstayed their welcome

So I’m still working at 2011 mates’ rates for my early retained clients and now I know them so well, asking for an increase on the day rate feels kind of #awkward. But the nicest client in the world is unlikely to suggest you take a pay rise. I’m just going to have to man up – distasteful as it is. Suggest to avoid getting into this situation in the first place any day rate deal you agree comes with the proviso ‘to be reviewed in six months’, ample time to prove your salt and get you on more equitable terms.

Motivational moment – When pickings get plentiful, share the spoils

Share the stress, share the funds, share the love, keep delivering above and beyond. Officially forming the collective was the smartest thing I did this year.

Cautionary tale – Now it’s seven days a week 11-7, and that’s normal

The weekends have become the time to do the behind the scenes stuff, the banking, admin, marketing etc. So to make sure you don’t lose sight of why you turned freelance in the first place, in my case – to spend time with that gargantuan boy of mine – take enforced breaks, ( I’m averaging about eight weeks leave a year). Anywhere that is a Wi-Fi black spot will do nicely.

Motivational moment – I’m really proud of myself

Three years ago I turned my back on the security of an established and respected career, with the attitude of how hard can it be? That was the wrong question. I should have asked, ‘how intense can this be?’ Flipping intense actually. But it turns out, when you learn not to measure your worth by your job title, not to value security above freedom and control, you become infinitely richer, eventually!

 

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Less Superman, more Supermulti-tasker

01/01/2014

sometimes it can all just get a bit too much

Possibly I have been spending too much time with children this festive season, but I got to thinking if I could have one super power what it be? I ponderd several fabulous skills but came down to, The power to be in several places at once. As a single parent and freelance PR, multi-tasking is more of an adrenalin sport than an art form.

And it’s not just about prioritizing. Recently a client has a PR crisis, the day the dog got bitten by a snake, the day of my son’s school play, the day I had a hot date and just for once wanted more than seven minutes to get ready. It was all important. In the event, sorted out client on the fly, ignored the dog in a fingers-crossed kind of way, missed only a bit of the play, looked crap for hot date but picked somewhere dark and dog survived to tell the tale.

But even the none-emergencies fight for space along the time continuum:
· Get in a regular swim to stay healthy v update blog lest it looks like I’ve died altogether.
· Pick up all the apples off the lawn v source all the coverage for my client – if only less was more.
· Do my Sunday book-keeping v take child to the movies, he’s even offering to buy the popcorn.

Here’s my top three multi-tasking tips for us overwrought mere mortals.

  • You need a list but you need a multi-tasking list as life does not proceed in a linear fashion. Think of it as a grid not a list. And you need to be selective about what even makes it onto that week’s grid and give equal weighting to all the varying pull factors that particular week. So that by the time you cross everything off you have moved forward several of the most pressing projects in your life and so have some sense (however deluded) that you are in control of your life. To sustain the plate spinning analogy indefinitely, make sure the grid strikes a balance between the good, the bad and the accountant, make time for exercise, for a big walk with the dog, for meeting up with mates. I aim to complete 30 things off my grid each week.
  • Unlike a world leader, you can’t get by on four hours sleep as, unlike a world leader, you can’t get away with shouting at people who really don’t deserve it. If you need to work at optimum performance, all day every day and be civil – you need to sleep the sleep of a hibernating hedgehog on Tamazipam. Go to bed with your children, train them to sleep in late.
  • Guess what? You can’t have it all and the only price to pay is a slightly tousled hairdo. Know your limits. My social calendar as well as my fridge operate on a need to know basis. The first time my son and I watched The Great British Bake Off, he thought it was a Sci-Fi series. I catered an entire party over Christmas with all the food coming from the local petrol station (admittedly it had an M&S nestled in the forecourt). Friends obligingly text me what, where and when I’m set to enjoy their company, calls only get returned when I’m walking the dog, texts on the train, while holidays are agreed without even clicking on the links. My advice – avoid organising anything for anybody – you’ll only cock it up or shout at people in the process.

This post is based on an artcile for Parenting Solo Magazine profiling lone parents in business.

 

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The free-range freelancer

05/10/2013

spring 2013 with elli in zante

Never lose sight of why you went freelance. It’s all too easy to constantly be hunting down your next job, but the people (and animals) you love are right here, waiting for you to switch off that laptop.

So I’m comparing tans and my friend and the puny one says, ‘So how come you keep taking all these holidays?’
’Cos my boss said I could.’ I smirk.
My pithy repost was met with a sigh of exasperation.

summer 2013 with mum in devon

Obviously what my mate meant was, ‘So how on earth do you manage both to afford and to maintain client service levels when you are away for much of the summer and you are just a humble freelancer and therefore at everyone’s beck and call 365 days a year?’

summer 2013 with bestie lynne in puglia

autumn 2013 with moby in cornwall

But one of the main reasons I went freelance was to get closer to a good work/life balance. And I’m guessing that’s why you did too and spending time with the people that matter most is a big part of that. I can’t imagine you turned freelance to earn loads of money – so once the bills are paid, ‘affording’ to take time off is really just a matter of priorities. New bike, or a cycling holiday? New wardrobe, or a tan? It does help that I usually share the work I have got, so it’s easy enough to ask one of the collective to be at the end of the line if a client needs urgent advice while I’m away.

 

Some freelancers just enslave themselves to their desks due to lack of faith, both in their own worth and the proverbial uncertainty of the future, rather than any real concrete reason. Do your best the rest of the year to look after a good client and a good client will look after you – afterall who needs a bad client

It should be remembered that the proverbial lament of the self-employed, ‘If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.’ Can be flipped on its head to also mean, ‘If I’m ok with not getting paid, I can take time off.’

So this year I did.

Time off in search of half term sunshine on a farm in Greece, country house coddling in Snowdonia, armed with a dongle, we holed up in Devon for weeks, and then went quite AWOL on a vast eating tour of Puglia  with the annual 50 miles trek around another bit of the Cornish Coast to get back into all our clothes.

Ok so the blogging, the marketing, the banking, and the admin, the networking, the reading, erm they are in need of tending – but the clients and I are back on track and the house hasn’t been repossessed, theres plenty of time for filing when it’s cold.

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The second year – pining for external validation

03/02/2013

Major validations, minor tribulations and lessons learned – two years into Sam Howard’s career as an independent PR.

no more awards for you my girl think on

Smug moment: Ongoing clients have expanded their remits, project clients return for more projects, growth rates are healthy.
Dark muttering: So how come I haven’t won employee of the month? Been given a round of applause, a certificate, a mug or anything?
Note to self: Stop hankering for external validation. Ain’t ever gonna happen.

Smug moment: So stress levels are down, inner contentment levels are up my aura has never been so glowy – everyone says so.
Dark muttering: When you have a bad day they can be astoundingly bad, and the temptation to cry is immense – after all no one is watching. Usually it’s just a matter of keeping the faith,but it’s easier said than done.
Note to self: Just read the contract you stupid, stupid girl.

Smug moment: I’m getting to do more stuff with more people, getting back to a more integrated approach.
Dark muttering: Peer collaboration is all very well, but where’s a lovely, enthusiastic junior when you need one? Media monitoring – at my age.
Note to self: Get over yourself, it’s the same day rate.

Smug moment: Blog’s doing good.
Dark muttering: I’m a bit behind on sorting out my own brand. What brand you say? Quite. I abandon it as soon as client work comes in. Worse still, I keep changing my mind. I have so much more empathy now with past employers that could never ‘get their act together’, turns out neither can I.
Note to self: Use your project management skills, dummy.

Smug moment: I’ve enjoyed getting back to my roots, direction, content and outreach. I still get a huge high when I see client content getting picked up.
Dark muttering: Why did I think setting up on my own would get me away from the spreadsheets?
Note to self: There’s software out there to do this stuff, decide where your time is best spent, and spend it there.

Smug moment: So as a reward for going freelance, I got a rescue puppy. He’s a black lab, crossed with something, maybe a kangaroo. But our daily walks give me head space and I’ve dropped a dress size!
Dark muttering: I somewhat underestimated how wildly distracting would be the dogaroo’s ebullient puppy-hood and protracted adolescence – there were days… I’m telling ya…
Note to self: Don’t be tempted to spread yourself too thin. Even by a puppy.

Smug moment: I’ve rejected any pretense at standard working hours, standard dress, standard working practices – and it all works well for me.
Dark muttering: Ask any of my former bosses, I was always borderline employable. Are there rescue shelters for feral freelancers, offering warm and loving forever contracts, doing the filing in the basement for some kindly brand?
Note to self:  Better stick with the programme kid and as Fat Boy Slim might say:

‘We’ve come a long, long way together

Through the hard times and the good

We have to celebrate you, baby

We have to praise you like we should.’

‘Cos no one else is gonna do it for you.

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Is it freelance for life or just ’til Christmas?

12/10/2012

Take Sam Howard’s festive freelance quiz to find out. Tot up how many of these apply to you:

1. If you spend longer than six minutes getting ready of a morning, you consider yourself to be ‘faffing’.

2. When it comes to the three minute lunch break, soup bowls seem an unnecessary middle man, and are no longer required.

3. It never occurred to you before, but now, instead of religiously visiting the salon every six weeks, cos you’re so worth it – every so often, you just yank your hair into a big ponytail and lop off the top bit with the bacon scissors.

4. Your City client asks for an 8.30am briefing and you have jet lag for the rest of the day.

5. You get a pair of sheepskin house boots to keep your tootsies warm all winter long, spending over a hundred quid on what are effectively a pair of uggly slippers.

6. When asked what are doing at the weekend you look at people blankly, then reply, ‘working’ I mean what else would you do?

7. Next bank holiday, instead of gallivanting off on a City break, you’re going to re-grout the kitchen tiles as they are looking really grubby – funny you never noticed that when you had a proper job and was out of the house for 60 hours a week.

8. Your City high heels haven’t seen daylight for six months and when you do eventually try them out, you now walk with less grace than a lad in a frock on a stag do.

9. You catch up with a City friend. She regales you with tales of ridiculous internal politics, bodacious power plays and incompetent bosses – but all you can contribute is that the dog ate your Amazon parcel this morning.

10. Dress down Friday has become dress up Friday as that’s the day you go to the supermarket.

If you scored:
5 or less: It’s too late for me, but you must save yourself, book in for a weekend spa retreat, a full make over and hire a personal shopper, so no one need ever know what happened here.
6 and more: Consider yourself utterly unemployable and welcome to our world – we are your people now.

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Freelance! Glorious Freelance!

06/08/2012

Sam Howard looks at how to survive and thrive on the freelance diet…

Most freelancers say they took this path to have a better quality of life. Most ex-freelancers say they gave it up because the feast and famine aspect was completely counter intuitive to achieving the work life balance they craved.

Ergo to sustain independence you need a strategy for coping with the Cabbage Soup Diet one week and the All You Can Eat Buffet the next. Here’s mine:

Feast: I love the pace, the focus, and the fear of The Feast! But this year, instead of doing my impression of an overworked Scrat and chasing down every last acorn, as the work ramped up I pulled in fellow freelancer experts to do the bits that they do best, leaving me to what I do best. Net result – very happy clients (several experts for the price of one) and several happy experts instead of one, which karmicly is a good thing right? In the short term slightly less acorns for me, but by delivering really good work (i.e. better than I could manage on my own) hopefully we planted a few metaphorical oak trees for the long term.

Famine: So I could stay in bed, stare at the ceiling and wonder if I haven’t completely ruined my career… or, instead I could actually look forward to the downtime and line up a load of projects designed to get out of the office, rest the brain and exercise the brawn. You might of heard the whoop of joy as I slammed down the lid of my laptop on 15th May, 10.45am. Over the coming weeks I finally redecorated the bedroom after nine years of dreaming in bloody magnolia. Net result – I swapped eight hours a day for a twelve but achieved an almost zen like mental status and when the ‘real’ work kicked back in, both client side and the house-keeping I returned to it quite refreshed and with rather shapely upper arms.

Regular meals: I struggle when, to my mind, there is not enough ‘real’ work to lace the day with the Fear – so I don’t do it at all. Instead I sand down the kitchen worktops. After several days of this, yes the worktops are very shiny but the real work has insidiously mounted up. The Fear has a genuine reason to be there and I’m in a self-induced state of work bulimia.

Grazing seems beyond me.

But at least if ever I do feel tempted to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and ponder the vagaries of freelance – I can also admire the paintwork.

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What price freedom? Part III: When to offer a discount

08/07/2012

Third of three posts from Sam Howard on the commercials of freelancing: How not to give away your work as a PR freelancer: 

The last two posts, looked at how to calculate your base rate ( how much do you need to charge to survive) and your ceiling rate, (what the market will bear).

Hopefully the first calculation is lower than the second one, if not please stop reading this now and use this time to send out your resume. You’re are not going to be able to make it work as a freelancer.This post briefly covers what factors to consider when contemplating discounting your work.

Reasonable reasons to discount                                                

  • Do you know the client? Sounds obvious but if you know them already, then proving you’re the right person for the job, aka pitching and then over-servicing, shouldn’t take too long as your immaculate reputation will proceed you. So the time you save in not going OTT in the early months can be passed on in a discounted rate for the same period. (not indefinitely)
  • Do you know and like the client? By that I mean do you know that they are really easy to work with? That your judgement is valued, that the client will take risks, that emails can be six words long (and four of those spelled incorrectly), that decisions are made in real-time and it’s OK to vent rather than labouring over such a delicately worded email you might as well have crocheted it. (This is my idea of a perfect client, I concede you may have a different set of selection criteria.) If you have a perfect client, then treasure them, working with them is a pleasure and you’re rate should reflect that.
  • Is it something that will help you grow? OK so moving into an adjacent sector, expanding your skill set, working with a client that you can learn much from, these are all reasons to invest in your portfolio and discount.( again just for a while say six months while you ‘come up to speed’).

Just double check the sum total of all these discounts isn’t lower than your basement rate and for every client you take on that skims or even dips below that rate you need to take one with a higher yield, remember this always has to be win/win.

Rubbish reasons to discount:

  • You’re really broke: So you’re staring at your laptop, willing for that one email to arrive, that will put a smile on your face and some cash into your account. But when it comes, (and it will) think carefully about pricing. It’s so tempting to come in really low, ‘cos you’re desperate. But what does it say about the value of your work? As scary as it is, put in the right price, that reflects the skill and effort involved to do a great job. Yes, you may end up negotiating down, but no one ever gets to negotiate up.
  • They’re really broke: Whether they’re those sparkly eyed start-ups or family friends, those customers that really, really want to work with you, but have no money… FYI they’re not customers, they’re window shoppers. So move them along and find someone to work with that can treat you with the respect you’ve earned. And with the money generated from real work for real customers you can afford to buy the sparkly eyed start-up or the family friend a pint – or three if they really do need your support.
  • Discounted trial projects: Not convinced myself. You need to be hanging out with people that know how to be professional in business, after all you have to represent them. If they come across as timid amateurs to you then that’s how thy are going to come across to press.

Doing it for free

I hate working on the cheap, feeling like someone has got something over on me, de-valued my contribution – but I love working for free. One of the best bits about working for yourself, is being able to contribute your skills and expertise to a cause you believe in and make a small difference in the world. Maybe it’s providing your professional services to a cause, or painting fences or washing out kennels. But if you’ve managed your finances and time sensibly, then you can afford to give it away and come home with your pockets full of physic income and your conscience having had a spa day.Image courtesy of wallpaper.com

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What price freedom? Part II Finding your ‘ceiling’ rate

06/05/2012

Second of three posts from Sam Howard on the commercials of freelancing: Following on from my last post, which looked at how to calculate your bottom line day rate as a freelancer, this one looks at the ceiling day rate.

My child’s first bake sale, he was about seven and asked to make scones.

“How much are you selling them for?” I asked dispensing with the niceties.He hadn’t given it much thought, but guessed 10p each.

“Why?” I asked. He didn’t know.I told him to think harder. “OK cost of ingredients,” he said.

So how does that help the charity you are making them for? “OK cost plus 10p,” he said and so we discovered the concept of profit.

“So what about packaging and wastage?” So we got up to 30p. And he hoped that might be the end of it.

“But then,” I said triumphantly, “have you thought of what the market will bear?” He looked pretty annoyed at this point. “No”, he said, he had not.

Part 2 What the market will bear

 

So I explained what people paid for a scone in a nice tea shop at one end of the scale and how much you paid for a pack of scones in a low-end supermarket. We decided that if ours were fresh baked and prettily presented with a winning toothy smile, we might be able push that up to 50p a scone. It was a pretty successful bake sale by all accounts…

So what will the market bear for your services, given that you are not baking muffins, all proceeds are not going to charity, and that you’re probably not as cute as the average seven year old salesperson?

Local rate

First stop, so what are local freelancers charging? Here’s a jan 2010 survery that I found that might be helpful, and this on a freelance website, but I’m not sure how fresh it is. Do they compare to you and your skills? Make sure these are valid, long term freelancers/independents. It’s a competitive market out there, but if people are offering to work for ‘silly money’ like you see on the bid sites, are you really going to compete with them, what are you competing for? To see who can go bust first?

Agency equivalent

You need to understand what local agencies are charging. if you’re former agency this is a no brainer. If you’re not, then you need to do some research to try and understand where you map on to the agency hierarchy, don’t go on your old salary (probably higher) but more on your experience and responsibilities, here’s a very very rough guide:

  • 1 -3 years PR experience – account exec: Support role – admin, research, supervised outreach, supervised content creation, no direct reports ( not sure this is a good time to go freelance myself unless you have very low out goings), reports to account manager.
  • 3 – 6 years PR experience – account manager: Implementation role, heads up tactics, main outreach person, day to day client go to person, directly manages juniors, reports to account director. Possibly knows the account better than anyone else.
  • 6 – 8 years PR experience – account director, lead role, heads up strategy, leads client relationships, oversees budgeting, heavily involved in pitching, manages account managers, reports to group account director/director. Tasked with making money.
  • 8+ years PR experience – group account director, senior account director etc – same as above but entrusted with more clients, more accounts, bigger budgets, bigger teams, and some development initiatives, reports to director.
  • 10+ years of experience – director, running division, sits on key strategic accounts, leads new business drives, develops new services/territories, leads team, responsible for financial health of division, runs P&L, reports to CEO. Tasked with making profit.

Once you can map your role to an agency hierarchy, find out the local day rates for this role. Then to my mind you don’t just round your rate down, but you slash it. You don’t have the group expertise or the combined reach of an agency, also you don’t have the overheads. I tend to charge under half as this makes me viable for agency work too.

The bitter pill
Now you compare your market research to your notional day rate If your notional day rate tops the market rates, you have a problem. Really why is any one going to hire you in this climate if they can tap into the same services and expertise elsewhere for less? And if you take on a loss leader project, there is only one of you, while you’re not making enough money, there is no one else to make any money at all. Every day you work at the ‘wrong rate’ only puts even more pressure on the other days to over price. You need to think long and hard about how you are going to make this work. Possibly this is not the right time in your career to go freelance, mayber you need more skills/experience, so you can charge a stronger day rate or you need to wait until there is a time in your life when you don’t need to earn quite so much (eg the mortgage isn’t making your eyes water, the kids day care bills aren’t making you wish you’d got a dog instead.).

The sweet spot
The sweet spot for a freelancer is having a low cost base and a high/in demand skills base. If your notional day rate is at the low end of the market rate scale, you’re looking at win/win, you can round up your notional rate, still be extremely competitive and know you are going to be earning enough to be able to sustain the freelance life over the longer term. Who knows perhaps you can develop a side line in home-baked goods too…

Next blog looks at the variables that allow you to tweak the day rate.

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What price freedom? Part I How to find your ‘base’ rate

25/04/2012

First of three posts from Sam Howard on the commercials of freelancing:

If you are good with words, I’ve noticed, sooner or later you need to get good with maths. The first of three posts looking at how to price up your freelance comms work.

A recent survey in PRmoment, showed that most freelancers charge between £200 and £500 a day. So where might you fit in? The next few posts share my ideas on how you decide what to charge. Hopefully useful if you are considering becoming a freelance comms consultant, starting out, or just sense your business model might be a bit broken.

Part 1: calculating a day rate AKA what do you need to charge to survive?

Step 1) What do you need to earn?

Did you really go freelance to become rich? Really? Most people I know have gone freelance to take back control of their lives, to be able to make their own decisions, to be there for their families and generally to feel like they are living a more balanced and healthier life. And in that sense we are all very successful, though none of us ‘rich’. So when you are working out what you need to earn, if you really want to be a freelancer, I doubt if it’s anything like what you used to earn. Do a monthly budget of what you can cope with, (you’ll be surprised freelance currency goes along way).
This gives you your base line figure of what you need to clear after tax. For easy maths’ sake lets say that’s a £1,500 a month so £18,000 a year. So how does that convert to a day rate?

Step 2) How many days in the year do you have to earn it? Answer: it’s not 365

Though this is where you start.
– Days in the year 365
– Less main public holidays 5
– Less weekends 104 (don’t actually schedule to work weekends)
– Less holidays/family/emergency days 25
– Less sick/jet lag/ hangover days 12 ( just being realistic)
– Days available to work 220 ( standard industry figure)

Now assume that 50% of that time you are not doing client work, either because there just isn’t any, or because you are working but not being ‘paid’ for it, eg admin, networking, training, research, marketing, pitching, preparing materials etc. That leaves 110 days to cover your budget, plus tax plus expenses.

Step 3) Not all that money is yours you know; provision for tax and expenses.

So sticking with our notional sum of £18,000 a year,

Plus expenses say 15% £2,700 ( if you are working from home, can easily be more if you are not),

Plus tax, say 25% £4,500.

So in theory you need to earn around £25,200, to give you £18,000 and meet that £1,500 budget.

Step 4) Calculating the notional day rate

So now just look at how much you need in total, and divide it by client days.

In our model that’s
£25,200 /110 days = £229/day notional day rate.

You’re welcome

Next blog: how does that compare to what the market will bear? Favourably we hope. After that, take a look at when to discount your work so that you find that sweet spot that keeps your clients happy and your finances healthy.

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