How profitable is your freelancing business? How much money do you make an hour? Do you get out of the whole thing with less money than you would have made flipping burgers?
There is only one way to know that, and it’s to log your time. There are other reasons to log your time, since logging your time makes you more efficient at making quotes and it helps you figuring out where you lose your time. It may even help you make a clear difference between work time and fun time if you are like me and likely to think of work 24/7.
To make better quotes
The more logs you have, the more references you have when making a new quote. How much time did you spend on animation on your last project, how much on background tiles? You can use that to estimate the time you will spend on your next project. Of course, every once in a while you will get a project where you have to do things in a way you have never done before, but having a good number of logs will still help you putting a time and a price on these. Depending on how good you are with your logs you might even be able to estimate how much added time you get the first time you do something by comparing it to the following jobs you got.
To know how much money you are making
It’s when analysing your logs that you will also find out how much you make an hour, if you overcharged or if you undercharged on a project. You don’t have to wait until the project if finished either, keeping an eye on your log can tell you to get cracking or else you will finish losing money. Some people work better under pressure and pressure of losing money can (and should) be as much of an incentive as the pressure of making the deadline. If it makes you finish before the deadline, the more power to you, your client should be happy.
To help make a difference between fun time and work time
It can go both way, really. Some freelancers, like me, have problems putting work aside, especially if their work and personal e-mails come in the same software or are on the same address. Others have the opposite problem, surfing the web, chatting and feeding the cats while they should be working (incidentally, it happens to me too.) Logging your time can help, if you have to “unlog” every time you want to reply to a personal e-mail or if you have to “log in” when you want to write a quote late at night when you should be relaxing, it makes you realise the difference between personal time and work time. It also gives you a better idea of how much you work, maybe you thought you were tight on money because you were undercharging, when in reality you were spending most of your day idling and wasting time.
Next article, how to log!