Categories
Freelancing

New challenges

A short while about (July to be exact) I published a post about why I got into software development. At the time I was dealing with a bit of a personal crisis. I had reached a point (for the second time) of burning the candles at both ends so much that I was probably not thinking straight. So I had this daft idea to launch a Patreon account to try and crowd fund my goals. No prizes for guessing how that turned out.

What that post did however do for me is define why and more importantly how I want to make my living as a freelance developer. It also helped me realise that perhaps the tools I need to be using are out there and I just need to take the proverbial bull by the horns. So, with that in mind, I am very happy to announce that I am, as of September, one of the newest experts at Codeable.

If you have never heard of Codeable, it is the worlds #1 WordPress specific outsourcing platform. The founders, Per and Tomaz, are WordPress experts themselves and their business model and making huge inroads into bringing expert WordPress developers in contact with realistic clients who appreciate and understand the value of paying a fair price for excellent work. I’m happy to say that I’ve already completed my first few tasks at Codeable and collected a couple of great reviews.

Working at Codeable does mean that (for now at least) I have a little less free time for blog writing and replying to comments. If you were one of the people who commented on my articles during September, this is where I apologise for my lack of replies. Going forward I’m going to try and focus on publishing at least one web development specific blog post a month, so bear with me. I don’t have an army of writers like the guys at Elegant Themes.

Oh, and if you want to hire me to work on your project, just use the ‘Hire Me’ link over on the menu.

Categories
Divi Freelancing WordPress

Please, copy my ideas!

An open letter to all Divi plugin developers:

Please, copy my ideas!

I am, first and foremost, an open source developer. That means I believe that if you have a piece of software, either purchased or obtained freely via open source repositories, you should be allowed to ‘study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose‘ (definition of open source software from Wikipedia). Secondary to that, I am a problem solver. I get great satisfaction when I can solve someone’s problem, specifically if it is with a piece of software I develop.

With that in mind, if I develop a plugin for Divi and you are developing/planning to develop a plugin for Divi that does the same thing or think you can do it better, please don’t stop. Build it, ship it, make it happen.

One of two things will occur.

  1. Your plugin will be superior to mine
  2. Your plugin will be just a copy of mine, with little to no added benefit.

Let’s consider both options

If your plugin is superior to mine, I will (silently, or maybe even publicly) congratulate you. If we ever end up discussing it, I’ll probably even share my original source code with you, if it helps you improve yours. In fact I’ve done this before with the developer of the Image Intense plugin. Image Intense does so much more than my little Image Overlay plugin every will. When I recently ended up in a discussion with the developer (over a totally separate post I shared and he found use for), he mentioned his soon to be released plugin with me. I shared my source code with him on the spot, should he ever find any use for it. Don’t believe me? Ask him yourself.

If your plugin is just a copy of mine, I’ll simply shrug it off and move on with my life. I’m actively working on new plugin ideas every week (literally, I was working on one this week and another plugin idea came to me, via a conversation with a previous client, which I started on the prototype for) so if you make something that copies anything I do, I’ll take it as a compliment. After all, they do say that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

There are some things that I do find reprehensible.

I personally feel that if you are a developer/designer/site builder and you are using a piece of software for a client project that requires payment to obtain, you should at least pay for that plugin. I’ve seen sites where premium plugins and themes are listed free to download, citing the GPL is the legal reason why they can do this. Legally they are not wrong, nor ethically, as the GPL allows for this (see my definition of open source above). But I do feel that if you are selling your services as an expert, but part of your expertise is using a specific plugin to achieve a desired result, you should at least buy that plugin for your arsenal of tools. Having said that, because it’s GPL, there’s not really much anyone can do about it. You’re allowed to, so if you have no issues with doing it, then so be it.

I also do not agree with the concept of just copying and re-branding someone else’s code as your own. So if you buy any of my plugins, or obtain a copy of them via some other means, copy all the code verbatim but give it a new name to sell on your website (and I find out) I will call you on it. However, again because it’s GPL, there’s not really much I can (or will) do about it.

Competition is a healthy, natural part of being in business. As far as I am concerned, competition breads innovation. So please, compete with me, show me what you can do and I’ll show you what I can do. If you can do it better than me, great. My motto is not to be better than anyone else, but just to be better than the person I was yesterday.

At the end of the day the people who really win are our customers. And isn’t that the reason we got into building products in the first place, to solve our customers problems?

 

Categories
Development Freelancing

The definitive guide to calculating your billable rate

Recently on the WordPress South Africa Slack channel, a member asked the following question:

“Can we talk pricing? How do you figure out how much to charge for WordPress Development? What factors influence your pricing?”

A bunch of other freelancers (including myself) piped in and gave our opinions, but it was Nathan Jeffery’s post that really nailed it. (The figures below are quoted for South African currency/costs, but you can adjust it to your specific situation).

“Whether you charge a fixed rate or hourly the important thing to do is figure out your costs and from there work out your billable rate.

For example:

Monthly costs

  • Rent: 7,000.00
  • Adsl/Fibre/3G: 2,000.00
  • Electricity: 1,500.00
  • Food: 3,000.00
  • Hardware (50k depreciated over 3 years): ±1,400.00
  • Accounts and Auditing (10k per year split over 12 months): ±900.00

This makes your target income 15,800.00. Add a buffer of 20% for rainy day and savings, giving you 18,960.00 per month as a target

Potential billable hours

Next we need to determine how many hours can actually be worked in a month (on average).

If we assume you’re willing to work 10 hours per day and 6 days per week, that gives us 60 hours a week (240 hours per month) to work with.

Let’s assume that 60% of your time will be spent doing promotions, looking for opportunities, quoting, doing admin etc. This means you’ve only got 96 hours available in the month to work on paid work which is 4.8 hours of productive time per day, which is pretty reasonable.

Calculate your hourly rate

Based on these values we can work out an initial hourly rate.

Target (18,960.00) divided by potential billable hours (96) = 197.50 per hour, let’s round this up to 200.00.

This means if you’re booked 100% of your billable time, you could survive by charging 200.00 per hour.

The reality of the matter is that it’s unlikely you will be booked 100% of the time, at least not in the beginning, so you need to factor that into your survival costing.

Let’s assume you’ll be working 50% of the time which means you’ll need to charge twice as much per hour, therefore 400.00.

When working out your fixed cost quotes, you can/should use at least 400.00 per hour as your base rate to calculate what you should be charging.

You should also factor in time you need to allocate towards things like:

  • Having a holiday and paying for it (if that is your thing)
  • Learning and continued self development (the more you can do and the quicker you can do it, the more you can charge per hour)
  • Time off sick (it sucks but it is a reality so you need to budget for it)
  • Reserve for tax etc, if you’re invoicing in your own name you’ll be taxed as an individual and probably need to register for provisional tax. You need to make sure you keep enough money aside to pay your taxes when it’s required, don’t want to get in trouble with the taxman

This model can obviously be tweaked but should give you some idea as to what you’ll need to consider.”

Nathan was also kind enough to share a Generic Freelancer Costing Template that can be used to calculate your billable rate.

I can honestly say that is the best guide I’ve ever seen for calculating your billable rate. Instead of focusing on what your competitors are charging and merely going lower, are you billing according to your costs vs available work hours?

You can read about Nathan on his website or follow him on Twitter.