Monday, June 18, 2007

The Cost Of My Time

One of the problems with being a professional is that people want your services, and often for free. If you're a doctor, people want you to tell them what their ailments are. If you're a real estate agent, people want you to tell them how much they could get for their house.

Being a computer guy is no different. When people find out you're a computer _________ they want you to fix their computer. (Most computer professionals aren't technicians.) I am a web programmer. I don't fix computers. I hate fixing computers.

So, instead of telling people "I'm a computer programmer" I tell them "I develop web-based database driven applications." When I tell them "I'm a computer programmer" people hear "I am an expert at fixing your computer and I can't wait to help you with any problems you may be having." But when I say "I develop web-based database driven applications" they hear "I blah blah blah blah."

But that doesn't work 100% of the time. Sometime people hear "I develop web-based blah blah blah" then they ask me to make a web page for their cats. Then I tell them my price. Then they say "Oh. Ummmm.......we've been getting a lot of rain lately, haven't we?"

In the past couple of months I've gotten two "clients" and I've hardly looked at the work I said I'd do. But these are not paying clients. So my motivation is somewhat lacking.

If you remember my typical week you'll remember I don't have a lot of disposable time. I work for 8 hours a day on web programming. Minus sleep, eating, bathroom breaks, and commuting, I have exactly 37 minutes and 23 seconds to myself each week, and I don't want to spend it doing your work!!!

If you have work for me to do, fine, but understand it's going to cost you. Not only are you buying my skills, you're buying my time. And my time is in short supply. When I had more time, I charged $25/hr. But my time isn't as plentiful now as it once was, so I'm upping my rate to $50/hr. However, if I can solve your problem in 15 minutes or less, I'll give you the 15 minutes for free.

Since I hate fixing computers my rate for that is even higher. (That $50/hr price is for development work.) I have to charge $75/hr to make it worth my while to figure out why you're not getting your email. But, since I don't use Windows I don't have much experience. So my expertise is probably worth about $15/hour. So, your best bet is to go ask someone else. Besides, I'd probably accidentally erase your hard drive.


Ken said...

The main key in discouraging leeches is price. Professionals usually included a minimum charge in any service, the same as in other fields. If you point out that no matter what the issue it is a 3 hour minimum bill, you will discourage anyone without a real purchase order...

Andrew said...

Yeah, maybe I'm too much of a nice guy. :)