Corralling the Horses


How much is too much? Trying to figure out what’s an appropriate¬†workload is difficult at the best of times, and only made more problematic by inconsistent scheduling on the part of clients, limited to no feedback or communication, and being in the unenviable position of last-one-to-hear.

My ideal situation has me taking work on a basis where I can make my bills, have a life, and also have ample time to complete my jobs. Since there isn’t a deep bucket of jobs to just reach into and pluck out something at random, I have to take what I can get, when it’s available, but only so long as I have time. But, what is this time? How can I measure it? One way is to take work on a per-word, per-page, or per-hour basis. Then just file an invoice and get paid. This is ideal: it allows you to assign billable hours to clients and make a schedule you can stick to.

Flat-rate jobs are turning out to be more difficult. Poor communication turns into bottlenecks, turns into very busy last-minute days, turns into problems booking new gigs, turns into less money, turns into not-worth-the-time. “Oh wow,” you you say loudly to your roommate the cat, “a big pile of hundreds of dollars, just for writing!”

Your roommate the cat barfs on your pillow. Excessive hours of revising nonsense three-word phrases, feedback from a third-party removed from the discourse between you and your contractor, filtered through from a marketing department you aren’t sure exists at all, and suddenly that hourly rate calculation drops from market, to below-market, to laughably low.

Going forward, it’s probably a safe bet to negotiate a different payment method, or ask the right questions about a job.

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