Talking about money is a bit crude, isn’t it? But now I work for myself, even with the cushion of redundancy money behind me, I see money in a whole different light.
I worked for it before, of course. But it just appeared in my bank account regular as clockwork. As long as I didn’t do anything crazily extravagant, the money was plenty. But now it doesn’t just appear, and I’m thinking about it in an entirely different way.
How much to charge for a job? How much for an hour? How much for a day? How do I quantify costs for social media support? Will I get travel expenses? How much should I charge for a retainer? What if I don’t do enough hours? What if I do too many?
I’m thinking about money an awful lot more than I used to. I don’t like thinking about money, but I realise it’s the only way.
I’m still charging hardly any more than a cleaner charges, but I’m gradually increasing the amounts. If I push it by another £5 an hour and it’s accepted, can I push it by another £5 on top of that? If somebody thinks I’m charging too much, will they say it’s too much and negotiate or will they just look for someone else to do their work?
My first two clients, who I’m pleased to say I’m still working for, are on ‘cleaner rate’. Newer clients who are just coming on board are on slightly more than cleaner rates. They’re still getting a damn good job done at a very competitive price.
PR firms often charge a lot to do a job – they’re covering salaries and the costs of an office after all. I’m charging as much as the cleaner and they’re getting 17 years’ experience, plus someone who works really flipping fast and gets the job done immediately because it’s currently not stacked up behind a big queue of other jobs (although I hope it soon will be).
My husband was shocked (in a good way) at how much work I’d done in 3 1/4 hours.
‘That’s not three and a quarter hours’ work!’
He thought I should charge more because my three and a quarter looks more like someone else’s five. But I’m not going to do that. It took me three and a quarter hours and I’m happy with my hourly rate. It’s money I didn’t have before I started the job.
I’ve had my first days working out of the ‘office’. What to charge? I worked on the day rate I’d given another firm. But what about food? Food costs money. It would cost me far less money to eat at home. So my husband taught me the noble art of ‘hide your subsistence allowance in your fee’. I really am learning new things every day.
I’m learning to use my blog to make money too, something I’ve never been comfortable with. There was a smattering of sponsored posts a couple of months back and not one, but two, wins of John Lewis vouchers for competitions (I never enter competitions normally). With those I bought the drawers my son needed for his bedroom. I’m training for another half marathon and my old trainers weren’t going to make it. I was going to splash out £90 on a new pair, but then I thought maybe I should just try one email? I’ve seen enough bloggers, who don’t run half marathons or even do regular exercise, get free trainers to review. I could work all day at cleaner rate to pay for my trainers, or I could just email a PR. So I did. I got free trainers.
This way of thinking really is alien to me and it still feels a bit wrong. But this is my life now. Time is money. I have to be brave, I have to step outside my comfort zone and I have to ask. Because someone saying no really is the worst that can happen.