I’d say about 8 hours to write. But, that’s just the beginning. There is so much more to the ‘how long does it take’ question than the actual work.
Direct time on project.
Consulting: After the contract is signed, typically, there is a period of acquaintance with the client. This is where you understand the brand, their voice, their style, value etc. It might be in the form of meetings. Or as 1-2 rounds of trials and errors. Let’s say this takes 2 hours.
Editing: I generally sleep over all my content and edit in the morning before sending it to the client. 2 hours.
Meetings: Even the best client would need 3 hours of meetings for a project this size. It’s conservative if you include commute, for instance.
Emails: Sending, receiving, scheduling meetings, rescheduling, confirming on WhatsApp etc. 1 hour.
Accounts: Estimating, invoicing, digital signature etc. In some cases, there will also be time spent working with accounts / procurement negotiating contract, filling onboarding spreadsheets, sending cancelled cheque, signing NDA and all. 1 hour.
Follow ups: For feedback, payment etc. 30 mins.
Breaks: For each 8 hour day, it’s only fair to need an hour lunch and 30 mins of breaks. For this project of 17+ hours, you’ll need to set aside 3 hours of break time.
Let’s round it off and say, it takes about 20 hours to just deliver the work.
We are making an assumption that this project will be straightforward and the below will not happen. (Pro-tip: It will)
Client will send half the feedback on WhatsApp and the other half on email. You have to consolidate it.
Two people from the client’s team will say two different things, you need to build consensus.
They’ll give feedback after a month, by then you’ve forgotten what you wrote and need an hour to just refresh memory.
They’ll need two more pages that they didn’t think of before. You have to retro-fit it.
They’ll want a nice tagline (You’ve written 2500 words no ma, can you not write 5 word tagline, please!)
They’ll call and free-wheel, you have to make notes. (God forbid they ask for ‘minutes of the meeting’)
They’ll send reference articles, you have to understand what it implies.
They’ll edit without track changes. You have to compare versions.
The final output won’t fit in their template, you have to edit.
They’ll refuse to pay, you have to hire a lawyer.
This also doesn’t include personal time needs like:
You agonise over calling / emailing and decide to email asking for a time to call.
You hate being called unscheduled, so you don’t answer. But then, when you call back they don’t answer and you’re spending your afternoon in agony.
They say preposterous things and before you know it, you’ve been WhatsApping your best friend for 4 hours.
Now, let’s look at indirect time.
Typically, in salaried employment, this will either not be needed or done by someone else, or during office hours at a full-time job.
Business development: I spend a good 30-40% of my time doing BD. This includes active BD like making presentations, building and maintaining website, responding to enquiries etc. And passive ones like staying in touch with old clients, being visible, posting on social media etc.
Admin: Accounts, paying bills, pay and file 300 kinds of taxes, planning, reporting etc.
Learning: Time spent in upskilling, reading, doing online courses, trying out productivity tools etc.
Mentorship and community: Identifying and speaking to mentors for work.
In addition to the 20 hours of direct time spent, indirect time of about 15 hours is a reasonable allocation for a project this size. So, other things remaining constant, a project like this will take about 35 hours to complete — out of which only 8 hours is actually writing time.
Well, it goes without saying that if you can avoid it, don’t charge by the hour. But the larger point I’m making here is: It takes so much longer to do something than you think it does.
A client once made me sit in his office for over 40 hours during the course of a month, debating inanities. And then at the end of the month asked me why I’ve raised an invoice for ‘meeting time’ when actual work hasn’t yet been done!
To make good money as a freelancer, you need to know where your time goes.
Observe where you’re spending your time.
Identify which clients are wasting your time and which ones are valuing it.
Evaluate if the money (or other compensation) a client is paying you is worth the time spent — if a client is willing to pay a premium for their inefficiencies, I’d accept it.
See what you can do less of and what want more of.
A good project is one where you feel that your time has been worth it. Sometimes, this is more than just money.