How much should I charge for consulting work?
September 3, 2009 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I will be doing some consulting work. Basically I will be strategizing with a very small company on optimizing their presence on the web and helping them with social networking. Here's my problem-- I have no idea what to charge for my time. I will spend two hours driving to them and probably an hour or two consulting. What do you think I should charge? I don't want to be too low but I am also scared that I might be too high. What do you think would be a good rate? I am located in the Philadelphia area if that makes any difference.
posted by hellodonna to Work & Money (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Others can supply more concrete responses, but, broadly:
posted by asuprenant at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2009

Travel should usually be billed as an expense, not at your consulting rate: you're not charging them for driving. That is, you add a nice rounded version of what it costs you, whether that's airplane tickets and hotels, or something like fifty cents per mile, and you add that as an additional item on your invoice, at the end.

Your consulting rate itself should probably be some number that is three digits per hour, but beyond that it's impossible to narrow it down because we don't know your competition or the market rate. You may also have different ranges based on the hassle-factor of a small job vs. a large one. One way to "justify" your rate is to quantify what impact it will have on the business, conservatively, and show how little investment in you will bring a large return. In numbers.

When I work for myself (less often lately), for example, I bill my time at one rate for a few hours but at a much lower rate for a pre-defined block of more than ten. The firms I work for bill me out at a higher rate than either of those... but that's not really my business, right?
posted by rokusan at 1:34 PM on September 3, 2009

Hellodonna, I run Consultant Journal, where I've posted more than 1100 articles on starting and growing a consulting business. One of the most popular pages on my site is the post on setting consulting fees. You can find that in my Mefi profile or you can Google it -- I'll avoid the self link here. The post focuses on setting an hourly rate, although my ebook (which is not free) goes into more advanced ways of setting fees, including solution-based fees.

That being said, I'm a big believer in solution-based fees that emphasize the value you provide. But when you have to come up with a number a day or two ahead of time, it may make sense to go with an hourly rate, then go back later and come up with a solution-based fee for future clients. Or, in your case, you may want to adjust to reflect a coaching relationship, since you're aiming at knowledge transfer and advice.
posted by acoutu at 1:52 PM on September 3, 2009

I would chage a half day for this because, hey, it will take up half a day of my time. MeMail me if you want to know my daily rate - a lot of what I do overlaps with your remit.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:40 PM on September 3, 2009

Don't forget Anil Dash's classic advice.
posted by dhartung at 11:11 PM on September 3, 2009

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