What should I bill for as a contractor?
February 1, 2011 7:21 PM Subscribe
I recently took on some hourly contract work. I'm running into some grey areas about what I should and should not be billing for.
posted by Diplodocus to work & money (17 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I recently became a contract worker. My field is engineering for electrical/embedded design. I have a few years experience in this area through internships and the like, but I am still finishing my degree and doing contracting part time. In all my previous jobs I was on salary. The people at the (very) small company I am contracting for were already familiar with my work before they hired me as a contractor.
I work entirely from home (fitting my work around my school work as time allows) and this causes me some confusion about what time I should be billing for.
Essentially I want some rules as to what I should be and should not be billing to the company.
-Since I’m not yet very experienced, sometimes I have to spend a few hours reading up on a general topic to enable me to complete my work. Should I be billing for this? If the topic is extremely specific to a project I wouldn’t hesitate to bill for that time, but what about reading about general things that it might be assumed I already know?
-What if I spend some large amount of time floundering or failing on some task before I figure out how to do it right and if this initial failing was just because I’m still inexperienced? For example if I spent 6 hours getting literally no-where trying to do some task that only takes 30 minutes if one knows how to do it right or has done it before?
-What about any initial meetings to have a project introduced to me? For example, should I be charging for 4 hours spent having someone explain to me what the project is before I’ve officially taken it on, or should this be more of a “free initial consultation”.
All this boils down to not being sure to charge for time spent that did not actually produce work for the company.
I’m nervous about this whole area because I asked for (and got) an hourly pay rate that is much higher than I’ve had in past jobs and haven’t yet convinced myself that I’m producing that much value of work in an hour. I don’t want the company to look at my first few bills and the work I’ve produced in that time, and wonder why they are paying so much money for what they are getting!
I am confident that I can produce good quality work in the end, but I want to seem like I am a good value for what they are paying and I also don’t want to miss out on large amounts of money that I should have claimed.