Getting better at quoting, visitors from Basildon and more – the Farm on 29th November

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On 29th November 2023 our freelancers meet up was in the Battle of Trafalgar pub in Brighton. 15 people came along.

Some of the topics talked about:

  • Starting freelancing
  • Invoicing
  • Self promotion
  • Finding work
  • Finding networking events near you
  • Learning a big, complicated system is hard and you need to remember that
  • Learning Golang
  • Recovering from anaesthetic takes weeks
  • The books Psychology of Money, 4000 Weeks, Die with Zero, and Deep Work
  • WordPress development
  • Visitors all the way from Basildon
  • Getting work from people who do the same thing as you
  • Community support
  • Procopywriters
  • Spotting bad clients
  • Accepting you’ll make mistakes
  • Reflecting on how long it actually takes you to complete a project so you get better at quoting
  • Electric vehicle ownership problems when you can’t charge at home
  • “I have to check this (adult site) for work”


Visitors from Basildon

We were delighted to be joined by Kevin and Klaudio, who’d travelled all the way down from Essex to join us. This lead to a lot of talk about starting freelancing as we tried to give as much help as possible, as you can’t expect people to travel over an hour and a half every week. I hope we were helpful for them.

This caused a situation I knew would happen one day… we were joined by someone who is finding work as a freelancer who was born after the Farm started. As we’ve been going twenty years, this is bound to happen, but blimey, it makes me feel old.

Getting better at quoting

It is hard to get better at quoting as when you finish a project, you can be a long way from when you quoted for it in the first place, both in time and mental state. Often when quoting a problem is new and interesting and may look relatively simple to solve. At the end of a project, you’re sick of thinking about that problem and all of the intricacies you’ve discovered since starting to solve it.

Putting aside the general problems of sometimes needing to give a fixed price for a project that is long and may take up much more time than expected, here’s how I have improved on estimating time…

On every project I keep a timesheet. This is in a spreadsheet and it has three columns – date, time taken, and what I did. This isn’t shown to the client, it’s for my use.

At the end of a project, I compare what I have in the timesheet with how long I thought it would take to complete the project in the first place.

Early on in freelancing, I was told when quoting to work out how long I thought a project would take and double it. This was good advice, kind of, but I found I was still often underquoting. By keeping track of how long projects actually took me and comparing that to my ideas, I was able to get to the point of only needing to times my original idea by 1.5. As this shows, I still have a way to go on accurately predicting how long it takes to get projects done, and as I’ve been freelancing for twenty years, that should tell you what an awkward task it is. Generally, I work for “time and materials” as much as possible, i.e. I keep track of time and let the client know how things are going.