Paydirt Blog

Zapier integration


Here at Paydirt, we're excited to announce our latest integration: Zapier! For those who have used Zapier before, you can probably already imagine how much flexibility this adds to your use of Paydirt. For everyone else, follow the steps below to get started!

Paydirt's integration with Zapier opens up a new world of possibilities for integrating with your favorite Saas apps. Want to automatically sync your Paydirt clients to Zoho CRM? Or maybe you would rather sync your Zoho CRM clients to Paydirt? Perhaps you already have a good task management workflow with Todoist or Wunderlist, and want to have your to-dos show up in Paydirt. This and much more is now possible, thanks to Zapier.

Let's walk through an example of how you might take advantage of the Zapier integration. In this example, we'll create a Zap to create a new Google Contact for every new Paydirt client.

  1. Since Paydirt's Zapier integration is still in beta, you won't be able to find it in the normal Zapier search. Instead, click our invitation link under your Paydirt Settings -> Integrations page. Install Paydirt at Zapier
  2. Then, at Zapier's home page, find the red "Make A Zap!" button. Zapier homepage
  3. Next, when prompted to choose a trigger app, search for "Paydirt". Paydirt trigger app
  4. You'll now see a list of some common Paydirt triggers. Press the "show less common options" link to show all available options, then choose the "New Client" trigger. New client trigger
  5. The next step will be to authorize Zapier to access your Paydirt account. Press the "Connect an Account" button. Zapier will open a popup prompting you for your Paydirt API key. You can find your API key from your Paydirt settings, under Me -> Password. Zapier popup Paydirt API key
  6. Follow the prompts from Zapier to continue. When you get to the "Choose an Action App" step, search for and select Google Contacts. Then choose "Create Contact" as the action. Zapier Google Contacts
  7. You'll then be prompted to allow Zapier access to your Google account. Just follow the prompts to do so.
  8. You'll need to tell Zapier how to map your Paydirt client data to Google Contact fields. The screenshot below shows only some of the fields that you are able to fill in. Use the buttons on the right side of the fields to choose from the Paydirt fields. You can also enter static text, as shown in the Comments field below. Create Google Contact
  9. Now the final steps. Zapier will allow you to test your Zap to make sure that your new Google Contact is correct. After confirming this, you can enable your Zap so that it will run every 15 minutes. Then just name your Zap and you're all set!

New integration for Basecamp 3


Time Tracking in Basecamp 3

We're excited to announce that Paydirt now integrates seamlessly with Basecamp 3! You can now import your to-dos into Paydirt and, if you use Google Chrome and download our Paydirt Chrome Extension, you can log your time directly from your Basecamp project page!

This addition of Basecamp 3 will exist alongside our existing Basecamp 2 integration so, if you're still using Basecamp 2, you won't need to change a thing.


First, connect your Paydirt and Basecamp accounts: https://paydirtapp.com/settings/account/integrations


Now you can import Basecamp Projects into Paydirt.
Head to your client's screen in Paydirt, and select Create from Basecamp Project .

Import your Basecamp Project into Paydirt to track time


Choose the Basecamp Project to import.

Select the Basecamp Project to import

When you import a Basecamp Project, you can import all of your to-dos right away, or have them created in Paydirt as you track time towards them using our Chrome Extension.


If you've installed our Chrome Extension you can now log time on your to-dos directly in Basecamp!

Basecamp to-dos with time tracking

Open the context menu for a to-do, then click Log Time to add a time log, or Start Timer to start a timer ticking for that to-do.


Logging time happens directly in Basecamp, so you can keep working on you project uninterrupted!

Log your time without leaving Basecamp


And to-dos update in real time with their total duration logged.

To-do with time logged on it


We hope this makes time tracking in Basecamp a breeze for you and your team. If you need a hand getting set up we'll be glad to help. Just email us at talk@paydirtapp.com.

Paydirt has a new time tracker!


We've just released our brand new Time Tracker for Paydirt, totally rebuilt from the ground up, and we're pretty excited to tell you all about it.

For the most part, the time tracker fundamentally works just as it did before, so you don't need to learn a new workflow. But there are heaps of improvements and additions which we've included based on your feedback, as well as what we've learned ourselves from years of daily use!

Here are seven things we think you'll love about it:


Start time tracker from end of previous time log

1. Start a timer when your previous timer ended

Ever forget to start a new timer after stopping the current one? Along with our usual options for starting a timer in the past (5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60 minutes ago), you can now start a timer whenever the last timer was stopped.


Start time tracker without specifying a task

2. Start a timer now, choose a task later

Sometimes it's not immediately clear which task your work is going to be for; it depends which direction you get taken in. Now you can start a timer ticking, and choose the task for it later.


Change the task for a running timer

3. Change the task for a running timer

Sometimes it seems clear which task you were working on, but then you end up working on something different. Now you can change the task for a timer while it's running. The billing rate will update automatically.


Adjust the start time of a running timer

4. Easily update the start time of a running timer

Ever start a timer and then distracted for ten minutes? We've added a handy dropdown to help you push the start-time of a timer forwards or backwards in a click. You can also enter any other time manually.


Start the time tracker using keyboard shortcuts

5. Keyboard controls

Start a timer without touching the mouse! When searching for a task, use the [up] and [down] arrow keys to change the highlighted task in the search results. Hit the [enter] key to start a timer for the highlighted task.


View recently logged time within the time tracker

6. Recent time view

Click on the list icon at the bottom of the time tracker to see the time you've logged today and yesterday. You can edit and delete time logs by clicking the dropdown menu on the bottom right corner. You can toggle back and forth between the time tracker and recent time views.

Empty slots between time logs are marked out. Clicked on one to fill in the gap!


7. Finally, it's lightning fast!

Our old time tracker worked great for a small number of tasks, but accounts with thousands of tasks were starting to notice performance problems. Those are now a thing of the past. The time tracker loads super fast, renders fast, and searches through tasks fast, even if you have tens of thousands of tasks.

For this, a lot of credit goes to the contributors of React Project, which we're very happy to be using in Paydirt.


We hope these improvements make your time tracking easier than ever. As always, if you have any issues or feedback, drop us a line at talk@paydirtapp.com or tweet us @paydirtapp.

Time Tracking in Paydirt for teams in different time zones


We've recently made some changes to the way we work with time zones in Paydirt. If you use Paydirt alone, or if all of your team are in the same time zone, this change won't affect you. But if you use Paydirt with a team that works across different time zones, read on.


What's the change?

Suppose Mike, the team manager, lives in California, and his team mate Tom lives in New York (three hours ahead of Mike).

What we used to do –

We presented the start and end of time logs to each user in their own time zone. If Tom logged time between 9am and 11am over in New York, Mike (in California) would see that time log in his own time zone, 6am to 8am.

What we do now –

If Tom logs time between 9am and 11am on Monday, Mike (and everyone else on the team) will also see that time as 9am to 11am on Monday, no matter which time zone they are in.


Why did we make this change?

Displaying times in your own time zone is normally fine, and in some cases good. But it can cause problems when time is logged around midnight, or when time zones are very different. This can result in time logs appearing on different dates to different users.

If you're submitting your timesheet for approval it's important that you and your manager are speaking the same language about what happened on what day.

In short: Our new approach guarantees that everybody sees the same time logs and totals for each day.


What will happen to existing time logs?

Time that was logged before we made this change (Monday 23rd March, 2015) will be shown to everybody in the account owner's time zone.

This means that the account owner won't see any changes, ensuring consistency with reports and invoices that they created in the past.

Team members who logged time in a different time zone to their account owner will see changes to time that they logged before Monday 23rd March, 2015. All time logged before that date has been converted your account owner's time zone. From the example above, Tom would now see his time according to Mike's time zone (California time – 6am to 8am, instead of New York time – 9am to 11am), because Mike is the account owner.

All time that you log from Monday 23rd March onwards will be displayed to you and all of your team mates with the same start and end times, regardless of where they live.

If you would prefer time logs to be converted to the time zone of the user who logged it, we can help. Please email Nicholas at nicholas@paydirtapp.com who will be able to discuss the options and update your data for you.


Confused? Concerned? Want to talk?

Time zones are confusing, so if you'd like more information or have any questions, email Nicholas to chat.

20 Cool Holiday Gifts for Creative Freelancers


Holiday gift for a freelancer

Holidays! The perfect season to slow down a little bit and spend quality time with our families. Some of your freelance clients are enjoying their vacation as well and you feel less guilty of taking the break you deserve. For other freelancers, December is a busy month since clients are developing End of the Year campaigns and projects.

Either way, you’re probably thinking about rewarding yourself with the perfect gift. Or you want to give a hint to your loved ones about what they should give you these Holidays.

We’ve compiled a list of 20 cool presents you may like to have. There’s a gift for almost every budget. Here you go!

Note: We aren’t affiliated with these products or sellers at all. They’re just awesome products we’ve found that would make great gifts.


1. Adobe App Pillows

Adobe App Pillows

Cost: USD 30.00

Imagine using these pillows for your office chair. It certainly gives some personality to your home office. You could also use it to take a quick nap between work hours or to decor your couch.

An original gift for illustrators, designers and animators.


2. Space Bar Keyboard Organizer & USB Hub - Aluminum

Space Bar Keyboard Organizer

Cost: USD 100.00

Keep your desk organized with this beautiful accessory for your office. It has USB ports to connect your smartphone or tablet.

It goes well with an iMac or any other All-in-One computer.


3. Fitbit

Fitbit

Cost: USD 94.00

Working from home is both a blessing and a curse. We don’t have to leave the house if we don’t want to. However, we still need to take care of our health.

This wristband is perfect to track your sleep, exercise and other activities. It syncs with your smartphone and computer to give you detailed statistics about your habits and help you to improve them.


4. My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman

My So-Called Freelance Life

Cost: USD 13.00 Paperback, USD 10.00 Kindle Edition

Do you want to boost your energy for 2015? Start by learning some new skills and motivating yourself with a good read.

This book written by Michelle Goodman has helpful information and great reviews.


5. Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch

Wacom Touch

Cost: USD 99.00

A great gift for illustrators and graphic designers. This pen tablet is great since you can use it as a trackpad or draw directly to your graphic editor.

It’s a basic tool for creatives. It’s affordable and capable of delivering you hours of fun.


6. Bamboo Sunglasses

Bamboo Sunglasses

Cost: USD 115.00

It’s important to protect your eyes not only when you’re working, but also when you go out.

The bamboo sunglasses allow you to protect your eyes while wearing a handmade eco-friendly accessory.

They come in several designs.


7. Samsung Chromebook

Samsung Chromebook

Cost: USD 249.00

Travelling with a laptop may be a little impractical.

Fortunately, the Chromebook offers a light and practical way to stay tuned with your work. You have access to all Google products like Google search, Gmail, YouTube and Hangouts.


8. 100 Film Paper Towel Box

Paper Towel box

Cost: USD 20.00

Paper towels can be fun! Add style to your desk with this paper towel box. You can choose from 4 different colors. It’s useful and it can remind us simpler times.


9. Pebble

Pebble

Cost: USD 99.00

Do you hate when you’re away from your smartphone and get a new notification? This simple but handy smartwatch gives you all your notifications right in your wrist and it allows you to dismiss them.

It’s water resistant and it has one of the longest life batteries on the smartwatch market. The Pebble also has lots of apps to customize it and it works with iOS and Android.


10. Scratch Map Travel Edition

Scratch Map

Cost: USD 20.00

One of the best things of being a freelancer is the freedom to work from anywhere. This Scratch Map will help you to keep track of all the places you've been in. It’s a great decorative accessory!


11. eBags TLS Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

eBags Laptop Backpack

Cost: USD 70.00

If you’re like me, you like to keep your gadgets safe, especially when you travel.

This backpack protects your computer and gadgets and it keeps everything in order with its different compartments.

Take your office with you wherever you go!


12. Tetris Animated Alarm Clock

Tetris Alarm Clock

Cost: USD 30.00

Can you think of a better way to wake up every morning?

This Tetris Alarm Clock will also form each minute from water falling Tetriminos. This way you can start your day with good old memories.


13. Ps Magnet

Ps Magnet

Cost: USD 13.00

Do you like to add some fun to your kitchen with these Ps Magnet Kit? It’s a great gift for everyone who likes photo editing software.


14. Light Show Fountain Speakers

Light Show Fountain Speakers

Cost: USD 49.99

Relax with this water fount. It dances with your music. These speakers will look great on your desk.

Compatible with all USB devices.


15. Mustard Hot Cookie USB Cup Warmer

USB cup warmer

Cost: USD 10.00

Don’t you hate when your coffee gets cold while you work? Well, not anymore!

Great for anyone who enjoys coffee, tea or hot chocolate.


16. Nexus 6

Nexus 6

Cost: USD 649.00

Nexus 6 offers you an awesome work environment. The latest Android version, Lollipop, allows you to create different user accounts so you can have your personal info in another session.


17. Hot Binary Heat Change Mug

Binary Mug

Cost: USD 11.99

“I’ll have a coffee with 10 spoons of awesomeness please!”

Add fun to your coffee with this binary coffee mug that shows the binary for “HOT” in white as the mug heats up.


18. Urbanears Headphones

Urbanears Headphones

Cost: USD 50.00

Whether you want to listen to music or you want to make a call, Urbanears provides you great sound and design. You can choose between any of their 10 styles or 15 colors.

I recommend the Plattan.


19. Macbook Air

Macbook Air

Cost: USD 899.00

We've already mentioned another laptop, the Chromebook. However, Macbook Air is the perfect choice if you want to run video edition apps, design or animation software. It offers you all the advantages of Mac OS and the comfort of working offline.

It has a long battery life and an enviable design.


20. 40" Black Shelves Mobile Ergonomic Stand-Up Desk Computer Workstation

Standing Desk

Cost: USD 195.00

We all know it´s not healthy to be sitting all day. When you work from home you may lose track of your time. With this innovative stand-up desk, you could develop a better posture and it can help you to reduce back pain.


Do you have a wish list for the Holidays? Do you like any of these gifts? We’d love to read your comments!

13 Tools To Automate Your Freelance Business


Although freelancing means you should charge your clients the time you work, it doesn't mean you can't automate most parts of your business to have a better work-life balance or to earn more money.

For that reason, I'm going to discuss a few tools you could use to automate your business and enjoy more free time.

Tools to automate your freelance business

Customer relationship management

Did you ever lose a great opportunity because you forgot to follow up? A prospective client tells you the company is not ready to buy right now, but they're interested in your services. What do you do?

You could create spreadsheets, reminders and spend a few hours setting your system up, or you could find an effective CRM and eliminate all the hassle.

Two apps you may want to try are Insightly and Zoho CRM.

Insightly

This is a great CRM for your freelance business. You can schedule follow-up emails, see custom reports and it has a great integration with Google Apps.

They have a free and a paid version. The free version allows you to do almost everything with a few limitations. Up to 2,500 records, 200 MB storage, 40 custom fields and 3 users. It's perfect if you're a new freelancer. The paid version costs between $7-$9 per month, depending on the payment method you choose (annually or monthly payments).

Zoho CRM

Another awesome app to manage your customer relationships. Zoho offers more pricing options than Insightly.

You can choose between the free version, standard version ($12 per month), professional ($20 per month) and enterprise ($35 per month).


Email marketing

What better than an app that can help you to send automatic emails? If you manage your own blog and want to email your subscribers or if you want to contact your clients after a certain period of time or event, using an email marketing app will do wonders for your productivity.

The best part is integrating your email marketing app to your CRM. Two of the best known apps are Mailchimp and Aweber.

Mailchimp

It's an easy-to-use application. The interface is clean and it can be free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers. However, the free version doesn't include auto-responders.

They have several billing methods: Based on amount of subscribers (starting at $10 per month) or you can buy credits and pay based on emails sent (the cheapest option is $9 and you can pay up to $150).

Aweber

Aweber is a little bit more complicated but you can make more customizations and you pay $1 the first month. They don't offer a free version and the cheapest option costs $19 per month. You can pay monthly, quarterly or annually.


Social media

Social media is a great way to connect with colleagues, current clients and ideal businesses. If you want to update your social accounts effectively, it's a smart decision to use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to save time and schedule updates.

Buffer

This company is known for its transparency and approachability. You can schedule content for your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and App.net) and see your analytics.

They offer a free version and a paid version for entrepreneurs that costs around $10 per month.

Hootsuite

Like Buffer, Hootsuite offers a free version with certain limitations. If you upgrade to the paid version you can create custom reports to understand engagement, reach or clicks on links.

Hootsuite offers more complete reports than Buffer. However, Buffer lets you schedule your updates better than Hootsuite.


Project management

Get organized and deliver a better service to your clients implementing a project management tool. You could also outsource some tasks and communicate with your team members using one of these 3 apps: Trello, Asana or Basecamp.

Trello

My favorite project management tool so far! Trello offers a board where you can add your tasks, put labels, assign to members and schedule due dates. They have a free version and the business class version that costs $5 per user per month.

Asana

Perfect to deal with projects without sending emails. You can create tasks, stages, add links and manage your whole team. The free version is perfect for freelancers. If you manage a bigger team with 15 members or more, you can start paying $50 per month.

Basecamp

You can control your projects, calendar, progress and create to-do lists. You can handle your team with this app and simplify your communication tools. Starting at $20 per month allowing you 10 projects and 3GB storage.


Invoicing and Time Tracking

Paydirt

If you want to keep your time tracking tool integrated with your invoicing, Paydirt is a terrific choice! Not only can you track time with this app, you also have the time tracker as an extension in Google Chrome so you don't forget to track what you do online.

It integrates with Trello, Asana and Basecamp. You're also able to accept payments using Paypal and Stripe.

The price starts at $8 per month for freelancers, and you can get started with with a 14 day free trial. If you'd like to try it, here's the signup page!


Business proposals

Bidsketch

Are you tired of wasting time creating new proposals? With this tool you can automate the process and clients can sign proposals electronically. Their interface is beautiful and it lets you track your activity. The freelancer version costs $29 per month.


Automatic payments

Replace checks or bank transfers with Paypal, Stripe, or Payoneer. You can understand your finances better and decrease your international bank fees.

Paypal

The most popular platform for online payments. You can integrate this platform with most invoicing tools. They usually charge around 2.9% + 1% for international transactions + $0.30 per transaction.

Stripe

Like Paypal, they charge 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. They accept credit cards and support recurring billings. It's available in USA, Australia, Canada, Germany and 13 other countries.

Payoneer

Payoneer issues you with a US or EU bank account number, which allows your clients to pay you directly by bank transfer. You can then withdraw your earnings to your local bank account. Payoneer is cheaper than both PayPal and Stripe - they only charge 1%.


These tools can boost your business because you can save time. When you use some tools, evaluate the benefits of using paid apps vs the time you would spend doing these tasks. At the end of the day, it's about having a better lifestyle.


Do you use any of these tools? What do you like about them?

How To Spend Less Time On Administrative Tasks As A Freelancer


As a freelancer, you're sure to have a busy schedule. You're probably dealing with the day to day work of putting out fires and helping your clients. The last thing you'd like to do is to spend an entire day working on administrative tasks.

You like the creative process behind your job. So how can you increase your time for creativity and decrease the administrative role you play in your business?

A busy freelancer

Find flaws in your current procedures

How do you spend your workday? How many times do you open your inbox or your social media accounts?

If you're constantly switching between your inbox, your accounting app and your project management tool, you're wasting several minutes with your multitasking habit.

At first this isn't a big deal. Now pretend you waste just a few minutes doing this. How many times a day do you check your accounts and write emails? Five? Six? That's about 30 minutes wasted in one day.

Imagine you repeat this process when you enter your invoicing software or your project management app website. We could be talking about more than a few hours in a week.

On top of that, have you tried writing every single email from scratch? Responding to every inquiry like it's the first time you've read the question (no matter how many times you have received similar emails).

This type of inefficiency can slow you down. Spend some time thinking about your potential flaws and find a way to fix them.


Create new procedures

How can you save some time? Well, for instance you could try accessing these accounts once or twice a day. This way you decrease the time spent focusing on each task.

It also helps to set up tools to automate your procedures. You may want to use apps to schedule updates to your social media accounts or have templates saved in your inbox.

You could write a template for prospective client inquiries, guest post pitches, proposals or follow ups. You would only need to customize them for each particular case.

What are you doing today that could be improved?


Write your to-do list

Knowing exactly what you have to do will help you to build momentum. Start a to-do list and assign a due date to every task. This could help you to classify pending tasks and work on similar assignments at the same time.

Try to keep it short and don't wait until the last minute to work on them.


Have everything you need at hand

If you were trying to fill out your taxes, you'd need your expenses, your income report and the form available on your desk.

If you start walking around to find your expenses folder or you don't know where your income report is, you're going to waste more time doing something you may not already like.

Take a minute before you start work on a particular task to ensure you have everything necessary to complete it without distractions.


Work in blocks

Imagine you receive your hosting invoice and you think you should probably get that done sooner rather than later. So you print your invoice (or you save it in a folder on your computer), go to your accounting app and register the expense. There's no harm in that.

However, you could move the email to an expenses folder and wait until you have a few more bills to register. That way you won't have to go through the same process three separate times.


Eliminate unnecessary tasks

Is it really necessary that you create a new bill on your accounting app every time you enter your monthly cellphone bill? Or could you just copy your last phone bill and change the date and invoice number? Taking savvy steps will reduce the time you need to finish your tasks.

Do you write emails from scratch when you could have templates saved on your computer which you could modify for each recipient? Little details save more time on the long run than bigger and complex changes.


Invest in useful apps

Sometimes you need to spend money to make money. It doesn't have to be a million dollar app. There are some great apps you could use without breaking the bank.

Some of these apps require an annual fee or offer a pay per month plans. They eliminate the effort in creating spreadsheets or documents and it makes you look like a true professional.

Use apps for email marketing, project management, invoicing and tracking time, customer relationship management and other tasks. There are many alternatives available online and one may be for you.


Hire a virtual assistant and/or an accountant

When you're working with a few clients it's easy to send every invoice and register every transaction yourself. However, if you want to build a profitable business while enjoying a great lifestyle there will come a point when you won't be able to handle everything yourself.

That's when a reliable virtual assistant makes good business sense. A virtual assistant can handle your email enquiries, client research, invoicing and expense registration.

The same applies for hiring an accountant. Saving a few bucks by doing your own books can cost you hundreds of dollars down the track. An experienced accountant can help you save money when you pay your taxes, and give you valuable advice on what you can do to improve your finances.


Before spending money, do the math

If you could save 30 minutes every day with an app that costs you $30 per month, is it worth it? Do the math:

Your hourly rate: $30/hr
Workdays per month: 20
App cost per month: $30

$30 hourly rate x 0.5 (half an hour saved)
x 20 (workdays a month)
= $300

In this case a $30 Application could save you $270 every month!

Do the exercise yourself:

What is your hourly rate? How much time could you save if you start using an app? (Invoicing, scheduling social media updates, project management app, email updates) What is the app's price?

This also applies for virtual assistants.

Your hourly rate: $30/hr
VA's hourly rate: $10/hr

Assume you outsource 4 hours every week:
4 hours x 4 weeks= 16 hours

$30 (Your rate) - $10 (VA's rate) = $20 x 16 hours = You save $320


It might take you a few minutes or hours to implement these changes to your business. On the long run, you'll be saving a lot more than that so it's worth taking the time to make a few improvements.

What are you currently struggling with? What are your plans to fix it? Share your thoughts below!

Billable vs Non-billable Hours: Learning To Make Better Estimates


We constantly hear the old saying time is money. Every entrepreneur must know how to create better estimates. Otherwise your $4,000 client project could end up making you $10 per hour because it required more time than you first estimated.

With more experience, you can improve your ability to determine the project's complexity . But what if this is one of your first projects? What if you still give bad estimates after years of freelancing?

In this post, I'm going to cover the difference between billable and non-billable hours and how it can help you to improve your estimates and charge what the project is worth.

Making estimates as a freelancer

Identify stages of your project

As you work on more projects, you start to recognize repetitive tasks. A generic workflow might look like this:

1. Initial Contact

You meet each prospective client and decide if you're a good fit for the job. This stage could include emails, phone calls and meetings.

You evaluate a few things such as budget, chemistry and capability of delivering what the client needs.

2. Information Gathering & Proposal

You already discussed the goals, the target and specific needs. Now it's time to get really into it and do some research, write a quote, sign a contract and get a deposit.

Sometimes the client doesn't approve of your proposal and you won't go further than this stage. This time loss could be minimized if you offer consulting services and charge for giving your expert opinion.

3. Planning

You plan what you have to do next and ask your client for documents and assets they need to send you. This could be their logos, brand assets, web copy, or anything else that's required from them so that you can get the job done.

4. Execution

At this stage, you're usually working alone. You code, you design, you take photos or write. Depending on the project complexity, this may have several phases and it could include client revisions and feedback.

5. Delivery & Feedback

You show your results to your clients and make amendments as requested. Now that the job is finished you'd probably collect the final payment, send an invoice and deliver your work.

6. Maintenance

This is a post-sale stage. You make sure your client is satisfied. It may be time for talking about a new project, a referral or keeping the relationship alive so they keep you in mind in the future.


Identify your billable tasks

Now that you've identified your work process, the next step is to determine which activities you can bill to your clients.

1. Scheduled calls and meetings

You may want to include on your estimate the time you use to present your work and ask for feedback. Also add the time you spend in a meetings or discussing project details.

2. Research for the client

This can be tricky. Sometimes it is okay to charge for research. In other cases, it isn't appropriate. Do you want to know the difference? If your research is about your client's competition, industry or products, it's usually fair to invoice the research.

3. Your main skill

You have a skill your client needs. This is the reason the client hired you. Obviously, you have to charge for writing sales copy, designing a company logo or coding a website.

4. Revisions

How many revisions will you include in your proposal? What would be the extra fee if your client wants more revisions than the original scope? And what will those revisions include?


Identify your non-billable tasks

1. Pitching new clients

You can't charge your clients for asking for work. If you spend a few hours every week looking for new prospective clients, there's really no one who could pay you for that.

2. Writing proposals

Unless the client accepts your proposal, you can't guarantee you'll receive any kind of compensation for your invested time.

3. Learning a new skill

Remember I said you can charge for doing research for your client? If you learn a new skill for the project and you can use that skill for future work, it's uncommon to charge your client for the time you spent learning it.

You may want to tell your client you'll be learning on the job and agree to charge a lesser rate. Find the right balance to make it a win-win situation. You learn a new skill, your client gets results and you get paid for your job.

4. Invoicing & following up payments

This is one of your administrative tasks that you're not supposed to include in your bill.

Of course you could add a fee for late payments, but as a general rule, chasing payments is not a billable task.

5. Sending emails

Including every little detail on an invoice can be seen as a bad practice. After all, your client is paying for results, not for every single task.

However, if the client is very demanding and it takes you longer to complete a project than it normally would, you could increase your project fee next time to cover your costs. Otherwise, you're just giving money away.


Create an estimate

Analyze your current data

If you're tracking your time, you probably know the number of hours you spend on every task.

With that in mind, you can filter your average time spent on billable hours and create a spreadsheet (Paydirt offers a report that shows your billable hours, so you may want to check it out!).

Look at this hypothetical case:

Month Hours Worked Billable (Hrs) % Non-Billable (Hrs) %
January 160 140 88% 20 13%
February 145 122 84% 23 16%
March 183 130 71% 53 29%
April 147 110 75% 37 25%
May 166 145 87% 21 13%
June 170 110 65% 60 35%
July 115 90 78% 25 22%
August 154 115 75% 39 25%
September 120 99 83% 21 18%
October 163 132 81% 31 19%
November 149 127 85% 22 15%
December 157 120 76% 37 24%
Total 1829 1440   389  
Average 152 120 79% 32 21%

Calculate

It's time to give a quote to your client based on the information you have.

I'm going to use the minimum amount of billable hours. That way, if you don't meet your average amount of billable hours in a particular month, you'll still be covered.

Current data
Desired annual salary: $60,000
Current amount of billable hours (Minimum): 1,080 (90 hours x 12 months)

Year projection
Annual working hours: 1,920 (8 hours x 20 days x 12 months)
Vacation, sick days and emergencies: 160 hours (8 hours x 20 days off)
Total: 1,760 hours

Billable and non-billable
65% Annual billable hours (Based on minimum): 1,144 (1,760 x 0.65)
35% Annual non-billable hours (Based on maximum): 616 (1,760 x 0.35)

Estimated time
Using the process we discussed at the beginning, calculate the amount of time you'll spend on each stage.

How many hours will you spend gathering information? How many hours will you spend editing your work or going through revisions? Answer these questions before you calculate your project cost.

Project cost
Hourly rate: $52.45 ($60,000 /1,144 hrs)
Estimated billable hours for this particular project: 35 hours
Project cost: $1,835.75($52.45 x 35 hours)


Add time for unexpected events

With the spreadsheet, you have a educated guess of your next projects. Remember not every project is the same. So always add around 5%-20% more to your initial estimate in case some minor details go wrong.

Our project cost so far is $1,835.75. Let's add a 15% more ($275.36).
$1,835.75 + $275.36 = $2,111.11

This may vary depending on every type of project.

If you're not sure about using percentages, just add extra hours to the project. Using the same example, let's say I add 3 more hours.

$1,835.75 + $157.35 ($52.45 x 3) = $1993.10


How do you create estimates? How do you classify your billable and non-billable hours? Feel free to share your thoughts on the comments section!

The Effective Guide to Setting Boundaries as a Freelancer


When you're a freelancer you own your schedule, and you have the freedom to work when you want to, and from anywhere in the world. With such great benefits comes more responsibility.

One big difference you have with 9-to-5 employees is the freedom they enjoy to disconnect from their jobs when they arrive home.

When you own a business, you know it's entirely your responsibility to keep the business running and making an income. Sometimes it comes with a price: boundaries.

Have you ever worked on weekends or answered a call from a client at 7pm? That's okay if you have a side hustle and can't answer personal phone calls at your day job, but if you're a full time freelancer why is this different from a 9-to-5 office where employees leave the company and no one answers the phone?

Everyone deserves some time off. You may not realize you need it until one day you burn out. That's why in this post I'll write about a few boundaries you should set in your business.

Setting Boundaries as a Freelancer

Avoid working on evenings & weekends

At some point, most of us have done it. We all had to start somewhere and if you started side hustling, your available time was on weekends and late nights to meet your deadlines.

As your business starts to grow, and you become a stable freelancer, you should decrease the amount of time you spend working on weekends and evenings.

It's not good for you, your family or your friendships – you'll eventually burn out.


Enjoy your vacation

I enjoy what I do. I loved writing since I was a kid and it's great now I'm able to do it for a living.

When I was going on vacation early this year, I wanted to finish all my pending projects before I left. That way I could enjoy my free time without worries. As the date was getting closer, I started to think:

What if potential clients reached out and I missed opportunities for being out of town?
What if someone comments on my blog and I don't respond promptly?
Isn't working online one of the perks of being your own boss? You should be able to work from anywhere.

In the end, I decided to go with my original plan because everyone needs a break. Even 9-to-5 employees leave work for a few weeks and the world doesn't fall apart. You deserve it. Talk to your clients and let them know you're going to take a few days or weeks off and organize your work to finish everything before you go.


Don't mix work time with personal time

You signed on this for freedom, right? You decide when to work and how to work. It's awesome going to the grocery store on a Monday at 10am when it's not crowded.

You could certainly take advantage of your flexible schedule to save some time. Nevertheless, saving an hour of grocery shopping is one thing, and procrastinating your work to pursue other activities is another. Take small breaks during the day, but avoid distractions like TV shows or playing with your pet in the middle of your tasks.


Set an office space

Granted, not everyone has the luxury of owning a home office. Your house is full. You have your bedroom, you're living with more people and you can't afford to rent an office outside your house.

However, small desks aren't that expensive. Be creative and find places where you can work, like nearby libraries, coffee shops or parks.

You don't want your client calling to your house and your roommate answering the phone with an informal tone or your kid screaming. If you don't have a different phone for clients, at least you can establish a schedule for business calls. This way you make sure you're available when a client calls you.


Have two bank accounts and credit cards

Nothing is more frustrating than mixing your personal finances with your business expenses. Things are simple at first. Until you have a huge workload and you start to forget which expense was yours and which expense was for clients or your own business.

Avoid the headache and separate them from the very beginning.


Limit the amount of personal information you share

Just as with your finances, the same goes for your branding. Keep your personal social media accounts separated from your business accounts. Your client may not need to know your kid learned how to spell your pet's name on your business Twitter account.

It's great to have a friendly relationship with your clients, but it's a good idea to keep certain things private as well.


Set a schedule for checking your emails

We tend to answer clients' emails right away. We think we might lose a job opportunity if we don't give a prompt response. This might sound right, but unless you're a doctor dealing with a medical emergency, it doesn't make a big difference if you answer the email now or in 1 hour.

If you provide a remarkable customer service, a great attitude, referrals and a reasonable price, not answering an email in the first 5 minutes isn't a deal breaker.

In fact, you might be filtering needy and pushy clients. These type of clients usually need an answer NOW and it's ALWAYS an emergency.

Let's say you're a web developer. Of course you're not going to ignore an ecommerce client whose website has been down for 5 hours. But it's important to set limits. Is it really necessary to answer every email immediately? If not, let your client know your usual response hours and stick to that schedule.

You may want to try checking your emails twice a day: Once at mid-morning and once before you leave your workday behind. You can start your day with an important task and then go through your inbox. And once you're finished with your work at the end of the day, answer the rest of your emails. You can experiment a little with the schedule to see what works best for you.

Try to not sync your work emails on your phone, so you don't have the pressure in the palm of your hand every two minutes.


Set client expectations for project deliveries

You receive a new job inquiry by email. The prospective client tells you he or she needs your copywriting services for the company's website. You'd need to write the about page, landing page, home page, services description page, you'd also have to write some copy for the Facebook and Twitter account. Oh, and by the way, it has to be done by tomorrow.

It's a good thing to please your clients, but it's another to lose your personal life. Choose wisely how you want to handle your client-freelancer relationship. Remember you can always earn more money and get more clients, but it's very hard to change your client's expectations if you started your relationship by being totally available all of the time.


Be friendly with your client, but not too friendly

It's terrific when you find a client you truly respect and enjoy working with. It's a gem hidden between your average clients. You feel a great chemistry and you start to get involved in each others life. How are the kids? How was your moving last week? And that's awesome.

The real problem begins when you start doing your "friend" favors. The client asks you to start working on a project without the usual upfront payment. After all, you're friends, right?

Your client asks for a friend's discount. Suddenly, your new friend represents a bad business relationship.

Be polite and stick to your initial agreement. If the client is worth it, he or she will understand.


What do you think? Do you have any other tip to set effective boundaries? Do you usually follow any of these ideas? Share your thoughts below!

Why Successful Freelancers Track Their Time


Tracking your time has multiple benefits. You might know it's a smart method to give estimates and to bill your clients, but did you know you may be missing some huge opportunities to predict your behavior and improve your overall business if you’re not analyzing your time?

It can take a while to get used to the idea of having a time tracking app, but once you start using it you’ll feel more informed.

Want to know why successful freelancers like to track their time? Keep reading!

Why Successful Freelancers Track Their Time

Learn which clients are worth keeping

There’s usually one or two clients that demand more time from you than the average client. They call you everyday and send hundreds of emails. They want to be involved in every little detail and they don’t want to pay for it. Other clients demand high quality work and offer you a lower rate for the job.

Once you realize which clients are costing you money, you have two alternatives: increase your rates or let them go.

At the beginning, it might be hard but eventually you’ll find out it’s the best decision for your business. The time spent on that client’s projects could be better spent on better paying clients.


Improve your workflow

You’re a freelancer dealing with multiple clients and making a living from your passion. Suddenly you start tracking your time and you notice you spend way too much time on every project and you could be making twice your current salary.

You may find out you spend 45 minutes searching for the perfect stock image. You could be interested in finding new ways to simplify your process.

If you don’t make tracking your hours a habit, you’ll never know where you’re spending most of your time and will never be able to develop a better workflow.


Avoid multitasking

Have you ever tried to track your time when you’re doing multiple things at the same time? I have and it’s difficult. That’s why tracking your time decreases the bad multitasking habit.

When you’re focused on learning how much time you spend on an specific job, you avoid surfing the web or reading your facebook updates.

When I’m doing research for my blog posts and I find an interesting unrelated post, I bookmark it and move on. Later when I have time, I can read it. In the meantime, I continue with my work. Since I started doing that I feel more efficient.


Stop procrastinating

When you’re on a deadline, it can be tempting to leave the work up until the last minute. You work hard to finish your job but sometimes it takes longer than you expected.

If you track time you can make smarter decisions. Let’s say you have 4 projects and each project needs 10 hours for completion. Which means you have 40 hours of work to complete. Considering you could work from monday to friday 8 hours, if you waste 2 hours watching TV, how are you going to recover those hours? Working on weekends?

Having this information makes you less likely to procrastinate.


Make financial decisions

People build businesses to make a profit. Most entrepreneurs are following their passion, but at the end of the day you need to cover your bills. If you compare the time spent on your business and the income you earn every month, is your business worth it? What could you improve about your business?

Here’s a practical example: If you’re working on a Wordpress website for a client, what’s a better decision? Buy a template and customize it for your client or begin coding from scratch? Determine your hourly rate and how many hours you need to code it, and compare that to the theme’s price and customization time.


Delegate tasks

We freelancers tend to think we’re superheroes. We don’t like delegating. We take care of invoicing, sending proposals, reaching out to new clients, working on projects, marketing our businesses and so many other tasks I can talk about all day.

Truth is we don’t have the time or the capability to do them all well. It makes financial sense to reduce our time spent on tasks we’re not good at.

If you’re an excellent developer but you don’t have the eye of a designer, hire someone to help you with the design.

If you charge $75 an hour and it takes you 3 hours to do some tasks, we’re talking about $225. When you hire a pro charging you the same amount, but it only takes the designer 2 hours to accomplish the same goal, you’re now saving $75. Besides that, you also have 3 more billable hours to recover that money and triplicate it.

When you have the data, making this decision is easy.


Know your most productive days and hours

This is interesting. If you’re familiar with the human body, you know you have better and worse hours to produce work. Some people feel sleepy after lunch. Some people are slower at mid-morning. Everyone’s different.

Tracking your time will confirm you when you’re productive and when you’re not. Based on that, you can determine measures to minimize the impact. Maybe talking a walk, a quick nap or a change of pace.


Make better estimates

Have you ever underquoted a project because you didn’t know how much time it would take you? Or even worse, have you ever missed a deadline?

This lack of knowledge costs your business real money. If you want to improve your lifestyle and your income, learn to make better estimates by including every single phase and stage of a project in your client’s proposals.


See how much you have progressed

I wish I had tracked every second I spent on my freelance business. It would help me to know better how I improve my skills and if my workflow runs smoothly compared to the industry standard.

It’s rewarding when you analyze your data and you find out your projects are taking you less time because you’re more experienced.


Deliver better customer service

Running your business like a swiss watch ultimately benefits your clients. If you know the ups and downs of your business and you’re able to give accurate estimates, your clients will know exactly what to expect from you and they’ll be happy to work with a trustworthy professional.

Remember you’re a business owner. It’s awesome to work on your own terms and it could be even better when you use your time wisely. It gives you the opportunity to spend more time with your loved ones and to follow other interests.


Have you ever tracked your time? Why did you start tracking it? We’d love to read more about you!