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3 min

Introducing Open Heroines #freelance-skillshare: setting day rates

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Published on
September 4, 2020

Open Heroines #freelance_skillshare is a space for women and non-binary people working in open government, open data and civic tech to advice, skills and tools for navigating self employment.

This is the first in a series of blog posts sharing some of our members tips. Get involved by joining the channel in the Open Heroines Slack.

We’ve noticed an increase of consultant and freelancer roles in the Open Heroines #opportunities Slack channel this year — possibly as part of the impact of Covid-19.

Working as a consultant carries extra responsibilities in terms of running your business — from filing accounts to finding new contracts. While freelancing can offer more flexibility, control of your work and opportunities to negotiate pay, this isn’t always a given. If you’re self-employed, your employer isn’t responsible for your sick pay, pension and health insurance — all things that are pretty important during a pandemic.

Thinking about how to set your rates, negotiate contracts and keep your books can be tricky at the best of times. It’s even trickier if you can’t easily connect with and ask questions to other freelancers working in your sector.

As a result, we created #freelance_skillshare, a new channel in our Slack. It’s a space for women and non-binary people working in open government, open data and civic tech to advice, skills and tools for navigating self employment.

This is our first attempt in making a global asynchronous skill share after running a successful session at the OGP summit last year. We’ll be creating more skill share channels in the future.

So far, we’ve talked about how to determine your rates, navigating accounting software, drawing up contracts, promoting your work, and how to say no to an offer. This is the first in a series of blog posts sharing some of our members’ tips (with their consent, of course).

OpenHeroines #freelance-skillshare: setting day rates

May Miller Dawkins on working out billable days:

If you are doing this as your main source of income I think it’s useful to think about what you want your annual income to be including tax, pension, health insurance (if relevant) and other costs in your business. Next think about the potential number of billable days considering holidays, potential sickness and time to work on finding new work. There’s a rule of thumb that I’ve heard and used that freelance/consultant/independent folks can bill about 170 days per year so that’s one number to start playing with if useful.”

I use a sliding scale of rates that mean I charge private foundations more than community organisations or social movements and big NGOs somewhere in between. This also helps me create space for my own advocacy work and pro bono work.

Mor Rubenstein on negotiating location-based pay:

If you’re working in the Global South, you can think about adjust your rate depending on whether your client is local (which means their budget is also in the local currency) or international. For some international clients you can demand a lot more than you will charge a local one.

Edafe Onerhime on self care and setting day rates:

You may need a range of rates depending on the duration of the project, work that is draining and takes longer to decompress, and saving for lean times.

Things to stop doing now:

Letting folks pick your brain for free — if you aren’t getting paid make sure you’re getting something back — money, contacts, dopamine hit. Your insight is valuable, value it.

Working all the hours in the day on delivery — it’s fine to do this for a while but without engagement and strategy work on your business, you might be unprepared for major shifts.

In the next in this series of blog posts we’ll be looking at accounting software and drawing up contracts.

Get involved by joining the conversation in the Open Heroines Slack.

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