#280: The Problem With Thinking by the Hour

I’m not a fan of hourly billing.

And that’s an understatement.

I actually hate that model!

Hourly billing works against you AND the client.

It creates the wrong expectations and perception of your value.

And it makes it extremely difficult to build a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship with the client.

But the worst aspect of hourly billing is that it devalues your thinking.

Because your writing isn’t the most valuable thing you give to clients.

Nor is your great level of service.

The most valuable thing you bring to the table is your ideas. Your perspective. Your creative solutions to their problems.

In today’s podcast episode, I discuss why you should charge for your creative thinking—and why you most definitely shouldn’t charge for it by the hour.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.

When you sell your thinking by the hour—either as part of a writing project or consulting engagement—you commoditize your most valuable asset.

It tells clients that you’re selling them an hour of your time. When in reality, you’re selling them 10, 20, 30 or more years of experience.

And that knowledge, creativity and perspective you’ve accumulated are what enables you to connect dots, generate great ideas, offer opinions, provide feedback and make suggestions that will help your client make better decisions.

You don’t learn that skill overnight. You learn it over the course of decades.

Stop Giving Away Your Expertise

Many professions regularly charge for their advice, ideas and guidance:

  • Lawyers charge for giving you legal advice.
  • Doctors charge for diagnosing your symptoms.
  • Landscaping companies charge to create a design you’re going to love.
  • Interior designers charge to make recommendations for paint color, flooring, furniture and drapes.

So why would you give away your own expertise?

Is it because you think it will prove to the prospect that you know what you’re doing? Is it because you feel it’s a great value-add that will seal the deal?

In most cases, it won’t do either of these things.

Instead, it will only lead clients to devalue your writing and beat you down on fees.

Of course, you should still qualify the prospect.

And yes, it’s OK to do a preliminary assessment and make a general recommendation or two as part of your qualification process.

But you need to charge for your diagnostic work when the prospect or client needs help figuring out what exactly their problem is AND what they need to do to solve it.

And you should do that as a separate discovery session or roadmapping engagement—even if all you charge is a few hundred dollars.

Because when a prospect is willing to pay for this portion of your expertise, you end up with a client that values everything you do downstream.

They’ll take your advice seriously and are more likely to implement it.

And you’ll become the obvious choice to execute on the advice and guidance you give.

At the same time, you’ll feel great about yourself and your expertise.

Which will boost your confidence and help you close more and better opportunities.

And so the cycle goes!

So yes, you need to charge for the value of your thinking.

And whatever you do, don’t sell that value by the hour.



By the way… whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:

1. Grab a free copy of my book.

It’s called Earn More in Less Time: The Proven Mindset, Strategies and Actions to Prosper as a Freelance Writer. The title says it all. 😉 — Click Here

2. Join my implementation program and be a case study.

I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just email me at [email protected]

3. Work with me privately.

If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.