Jun 30, 2007

Freelancer’s Hourly Rate Calculator

A lot of our MailChimp customers are freelance designers and web developers.

So we thought you’d be interested in this hourly-rate calculator over at Freelance Switch:


At one point, when our company was developing websites for a living (as "The Rocket Science Group"), we had an hourly rate. Even if you charge "per project" you still need to know a baseline hourly rate as a reference point. We revised our hourly rate every year, using some crazy Excel spreadsheet that we hacked together by trial and error.

I just tried the Freelance Switch calculator using numbers that I remember from our web-dev days, and it was spot-on. Wish this thing was around back then.

One thing to take note of—it’ll ask you how many days you can work, and how many hours you can work each day. That’s common sense. But the real question to ask is, "how many hours do you realistically expect to BILL for?" Very few people ask that question. Kudos to Freelance Switch for including that. IMHO, it should be in a big red box, because it’s the most important question to ask a freelancer.


Most freelancers think, "Well, I work 12 hours every day, so I’ll bill for 12 hours." But if you actually track your invoices (note that I didn’t say track your "time," such as with a stopwatch) you’d be surprised how few hours in the day you can realistically bill for. In our company of high-strung, burn-the-candle-at-both-ends workers, we found that 3-4 hours a day was a good average (depending on the role). Shocking. It’s why we included that metric in our PunchyTime product. It’s not really for freelancers (who also need billing and invoicing). But if you’re a small agency with multiple designers (and you already have invoicing/accounting software), PunchyTime will tell you what the average billable time per employee really is. It’s crucial for agencies to know that.

Anyway, very few hourly rate calculators actually take that question into consideration, but the Freelance Switch one does. Very nice.