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Estimating your time - is there a secret?

(6 Posts)
watersign76 Mon 12-Sep-11 11:30:33


I (mkting freelancer) seem to always underestimate my time. Does better estimation come from practice or do you just think it will be x so I'll charge y to allow for my under estimation?

Any tips from those that have been freelancing/working for yourself for a long time???!?!?


Thistledew Mon 12-Sep-11 11:54:19

I think it does depend in what you do, and how experienced you are at gauging how long it will take you, but one way of looking at it is to know your market and work out how much your client would be prepared to pay for what you are providing. You can then justify the price in terms of your hourly rate and time you will spend on it.

So, for example, you might think that the client will only be prepared to pay £300 for that job, so I am not going to spend as long on it as the client who will pay £600.

You do need to have a rough idea of how long it will take you and a bottom line of whether it is worth you taking the job, but it means you don't have to be so focussed on spending exactly x amount of time.

joshandjamie Mon 12-Sep-11 12:22:25

Here's an example - let's say the client wants a press release written and sent to local press. You might think you would estimate time as follows:
- write the release
- create a press list
- send to press
- call and follow up.

But what you actually need to factor in time for is:
- taking the brief
- doing a bit of research
- writing the release
- getting the release approved (this can take a while if the client keeps changing the brief)

- creating the press list - if you have an online press list you use, you might think it will take no more than 10 minutes to do this. But do you still need to do some research of your own to find the best contact and research whether the publications are really relevant? Don't forget to count that time in.

- Issuing and following up - this always takes longer than expected

- Reporting back to client - this often takes a lot of time but we seldom factor that in, yet without reporting back results, the client won't know whether you've achieved anything for them.

In short I would say estimate how long you think it will take, then add on an extra 10% of hours to cover things you haven't factored in. If it looks like a crazy figure for what they're likely to pay, then set out clear parameters at the start e.g. I can do it for x price but no more than one proof of release, limiting it to x press, you need to provide background info to avoid me spending time researching etc.

Also use paymo or some other online time management tool so you can track how long these things are actually taking you so that you can quote more accurately in future.

hope that helps

watersign76 Mon 12-Sep-11 17:44:49


Thanks for those replies and suggestions.

I think the issue is that I like to provide an estimate that is attractive, but that doesn't always reflect how long it will take on my hourly rate. But I do appreciate that not orgs can afford the same thing and I do work for a range.

I also lean towards a perfectionist, which is helpful in some respects in my line of work but not helpful when trying to stick to a time scale/limit!

I guess I need to allow a little bit more time than I think, as experience is telling me it is generally taking me longer than I think it will.

Thanks again.


bigbadbarry Mon 12-Sep-11 17:48:04

It definitely comes with experience - and something that can help is keeping a very careful eye on how much you are actually spending on jobs, iyswim. I use "timetracker" on my pc which monitors what I do, so at the end of the day I can see how much time has actually been work vs how much on mn personal stuff. I use a stopwatch if I am doing work away from the computer. Keep notes of how much time it has actually taken vs how much you expected.

watersign76 Tue 13-Sep-11 09:53:53

Just created a paymo account - looks great! Thanks.

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