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I regard some of these simply as tools in the process, and the charges for them are built into my hourly fee. On others, like memos adapted from prior documents, I'm wondering whether I should be charging for the work put into the document template, which in some cases is considerable.
It's gotten trickier as I've begun taking on some larger clients as a consultant, where there's an IT person and a content person already on staff, and I'm really advising them on how to do some of the work I used to do myself.
I suppose this would be akin to a designer's charging for page templates or a lawyer for boilerplate contracts. Is there established practice on how to arrive at charges?
What you're asking is very a propos in a situation that's being charged hourly, which is a pretty common basis for consulting.
Let's say for example if someone is charging $100 an hour, just to give a hypothetical rounded-off figure. If it takes 30 minutes to tell a client what to change the main keyword phrase to and why, and how to set up the main site navigation, is that worth a total of $50?
>advising them on how to do some of the work I used to do myself.
So then you're imparting a summation of knowledge to them that took multiple hours of research and study to accumulate and develop over months and years, plus the advantage of your experience, gained by the practical application.
>designer's charging for page templates or a lawyer for boilerplate contracts
I can't quite see the relation as being quite equivalent. A designer may charge an amount for templates that others can also buy, and charge more for an exclusive license. Worth a good amount because of the specialized skill and talent that went into it. But if it sits around for 6 month waiting to be sold, will it be out of date, like optimizing for Excite or Infoseek? Once it's gone, how many hours of research and study will it take to be able to make another to replace it?
A boilerplate contract from an attorney is not worth the same as paying per page for a typist to type up pages of a term paper, which would be by the page. How much knowledge does he need beyond sitting at a keyboard?
There's got to be some criteria for the measurement of the value of the knowledge being imparted. Your question has a broad range of applicable situation; it'll be interesting to see the input.
Well, I've been waiting, hoping someone would jump in.
>>If it takes 30 minutes to tell a client...<<
A fair price then might be whatever your charge would be for the time the boilerplate saves if you explained it verbally... perhaps a little less so the boilerplate becomes a special deal.
Would you charge more per hour for "imparting a summation of knowledge" (nicely phrased, Marcia) than for what you'd charge to do it yourself? You might be cutting into how much you can earn with a client if you gave them instructions, say, on searching for targeted links. Inevitably, there are parts of the process you pass on to a client or developer, unless you build and maintain sites entirely by yourself. How do you extrapolate market value from your hourly fee?
Any more thoughts out there?
I spent a few weeks writing templates and extensive help files... for no money (an on-my-own sorta deal). I considered it, in my case, a necessary evil to possibly eliminate hours of my life I'd waste here and there explaining the same thing over and over. Additionally, I used illustrations. If it's 3 am - the help is right there where they need it. They can refer at their leisure. They don't have to guess, they don't get frustrated - and (hopefully) I've told them the right way to do it from the get-go
For something specific to a particular client- I would charge the same as if I was actually "working" (because you are). I would incorporate the time & work necessary to compile and organize their materials into whatever your regular fees are- by the job, by the hour, by the year... whatever. That way, singling these tasks out (what do I bill for this and what do I bill for that) is not an issue - and you've already established a monetary value to those tasks.
I call it the PITA factor.
And no, I certainly would draw the line at offering blueprints in the areas that make you unique and/or valuable. It's the things you know, that no one else knows, and THEY don't know - that makes you an asset and worth what you are charging. Last I heard - this country revolves around capitalism - and you don't need to "help" others into your job.
Rather, smile and charge for it.
Any additional work to make the plate work with their site becomes the regular hourly charge.
I know exactly how you feel. ;)
>>I certainly would draw the line at offering blueprints in the areas that make you unique and/or valuable.<<
That would make it very difficult to work on projects where there may be a developer or writer apart from myself. It would also prevent me from consulting, where someone wants to bring me in and pay me to tell them what to do, but then let them run with it.
As you say, this knowledge is an asset I should charge for, but the valuation is very difficult. It's even trickier when you're dealing with developers than with end users, because you know that developers will (try to) apply the information themselves without bringing you in the next time.
Also, I don't track the time I spend learning all this stuff, so figuring out how long it took me to build my file of documents is almost impossible to do. I might be able to guess how long it would take me to relate the information verbally or type it up, but as Marcia pointed out, typing isn't the same as coming up with the content.
In such case - I'd charge a lot. As in... alot more. Assume their goal is to do without you as soon as they feel they've picked your brain enough to fly solo, and adjust your consulting fees appropriately.
But I bet you already know that :)
In the last couple of years I was casually consulted on some large projects managed by overpaid and underqualified 'marketing experts'. They assumed they could call *me* at any time to ask me the most basic of information, turn around and act as though this was all part of a well-formulated plan on their part. Meanwhile, they wanted to pay me as absolutely little as they could get away with.
I thought at first a free tidbit here and there would lead to a more illustrious position, but all it ended up being was responding to ploys to gain what I knew for little or no money. (Yes- even idiotgirl knows some secrets.)
Waking up one morning to answer more stupid questions, I finally cut loose and let them have it. I voiced my opinions of their talent as a group and made clear my desire not to support their sorry a**** as they stumbled through a marketing campaign they were completely unqualified for.
Can you spell r-e-l-i-e-f?
I've been approached about doing other consulting since that time. Up front I tell them my fees. Usually, they go away. It seems the simple acid test for the 'time-wasting-brain-pickers'.
Thanks. Yes, I am clear on this point and should have phrased my question more clearly... What I'm trying to arrive at is some way of deciding how much I should be charging for a particular document.
I'm sure lawyers charge differently for different pieces of boilerplate. In law, there may be a customary range of fees for certain kinds of agreements, for example, but I'm sure the variety of documents possible is too large for them all to have a standard price tag. So there must be some other kind of yardstick lawyers use to arrive at an hourly figure for these documents. Any lawyers out there? Lawman....