What is your time worth?…

I haven’t been in the mood to post recently. There have been a number of things I’ve been tempted to post on, but thought better of it. I’ve no stomach for much of it any more and prefer to sit back and let it wash over me. But did wonder about the title of this post…

If you turn full time, and by that I mean as a living not as a non-tax-declared activity, then what is your time worth? What hourly rate do you need to achieve to pay yourself something and cover the overheads? I think that most of the time we are guilty, I certainly am, of forgetting that and working for the sake of bringing something in rather than nothing. And whilst the immediate boost of a few coins in the cash box is always nice, it doesn’t always pay the bills. So why do we do it?

I decided a little while ago, after speaking to a couple of people who know far better than me, to address this.

A couple of weeks ago a clock restorer asked me to make ten simple wooden thumb pegs. Nothing difficult there you’d imagine. The disc is about 13mm thick, 25mm diameter, and has a hole in the 13mm edge to take a 9mm dowel. So the marking out and drilling has to be precise. You don’t want burst walls. The wood used is basically scrap, in fact out of the firewood box. But what is the job worth? I told him I though there was an hour’s work so £25. And he looked like I’d said it would cost 30% of his annual income.

And it was a good hour’s work: machine the stock to thickness, mark up, drill the ten holes, turn down to a cylinder and then turn 13mm beads, cut the beads to discs, cut the dowels, glue the dowels, stain the dowels, abrade the disc top flat, oil and wax to finish.

So what is your time worth? Was/Is £25 for a hour’s work excessive? These things cannot be bought over the counter, they are bespoke in that sense, and in truth not many people will have the equipment and tools to produce them as a uniform batch.

He collects them today so we’ll see what his reaction is.


5 thoughts on “What is your time worth?…

  1. Andy, I think your pricing is pretty fair. I charge just slight less per hour. My usual rate is $36 USD per hour. $25 per hour is the very lowest I will go.


  2. Pretty amazing that you could do all that in one hour, and at uk25 and hour you hardly pay for the set-up time, the discussion time beforehand, he is lucky that you were available to make them at all.

  3. I think for £25, he is geting a remarkably cheap deal from you , Andy. Most people who don’t understand these things are employed, rather than self-employed. They have no conception of the outgoings a self-employed person incurs. These days after much wrangling, I charge for every scrap of time – emails, phone calls, planning, set-up, travel – everything.

    I also choose to do things voluntarily sometimes for the joy of it. That’s volunteering to help a charity or good cause, it’s not selling myself cheap…

    Having a rate card is a good idea. That way people see your time for what it is and it somehow looks more definite being written down rather than given verbally.

    If I’m prepared to negotiate with someone, I will always say that when I send, or link them to, the card. That way they realise that they’re getting a discount and don’t tend to push any further.

    Any more pushing and they can [redacted] push off. There will always be someone cheaper; it doesn’t have to be you. Also, what do they want to sacrifice to get it cheaper – a poorer finish, less detail, less precision? When planted with the either/or, people often see it differently.

  4. Well fancy seeing you here! I’m flattered you took the time to look.

    It’s a perennial problem I’m afraid. “craft” workers, craftspeople, are always on the back foot. A physical rate card is no bad idea, but it wouldn’t suit every situation. Perhaps I’ll have a think about it and see what I can come up with.

    Many thanks for the input, and see you in the other place 🙂

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