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Time Is On My Side

Like most of you, I’ve been thinking about how to improve my business this year. I’ve spent the last 19 months working on a content marketing project designed to help people find mining jobs and other careers in the Australian resources industry. I’m still working on that gig but I’m turning my attention back to my own business – and my own blog. I know it’s essential to make sure every minute of my day is productive. One area I’ve been working on improving is my record keeping. Sound boring? I thought so too until I discovered improvements in the amount I’m invoicing clients.


Sun Dial by Khirol Amir, on Flickr

Here’s the issue
As a freelance copywriter, I want to spend as much time writing as possible. I’m happiest when I have a document open on my laptop and I’m trying to get words arranged on my screen in the right order. I’ve always tried to avoid dealing with numbers – spreadsheets, accounting packages, software. Not only does it take away valuable writing time, it makes my head throb. But this ‘numbers avoidance behavior’ (NAB) cheats me out of billable hours because I’m never sure exactly how much time I’ve spent on a piece of work. It’s no coincidence I always propose ‘fixed price’ projects.

Addressing NAB
While complaining about my plight, a friend told me about 88 Miles. I’ve used online time tracking tools in the past without much success. They tend to be fiddly and unreliable. My work schedule never seems to fit with the system settings of the product making the reporting features relatively useless. She assured me I would have a different experience with 88 Miles. She lured me in with the tip that it’s a product made in Australia and extremely affordable.

The scoop
I’ve been using 88 Miles for two months and have fallen in love with it. The software is extremely easy to use. (I know; they all are.) I haven’t had a single instance of the software being ‘down’ or sluggish. The time tracking allows me to add notes for every entry which is incredibly useful at the end of the month when I wonder what I’ve been doing with my time. It’s also given me insight into how much time I’m actually spending writing. It’s more than I thought – and more than I was billing.

Why it works for freelancers
The reporting feature is fluid – I decide what the date parameters are for a specific project or task. I love the ‘on-demand’ reporting that tells me at a glance how much time I’ve spent. You can set up tags to help you filter your project work even further. It’s all pretty fab. I haven’t used the budgeting feature yet but you can get the product to let you know when you’ve gone over budget on a project or task. For a NABber like me, I find it very intuitive and appreciate that I can download my data into a number of different formats.

Thank goodness for small miracles
It’s affordable, for sure. A single user pays $5 Australian a month. You get ALL the functionality of the product for that price so you’re not hassled with constant “Upgrade to the Pro version” messages. If you bill less than 40 hours a month, you can use it free of charge, month after month.

I recommend 88 Miles to any freelancer or small business. It’s ideal for copywriters but it would work well for any creative profession. It’s improved my business and given me more time to write. What’s not to love about that?

How do you keep track of your time?

Join me at Content Marketing World – Sydney in March. I’m conducting a Content Marketing 101 workshop and will be attending ever second of conference. It’s set to be the biggest content marketing event in the Southern Hemisphere with Joe Pulizzi and the gang from the Content Marketing Institute coming ‘Down Under’.

  • http://www.globalcopywriting.com Sarah Mitchell

    Hi Heather,

    Freelancers, in particular, are guilty of giving too much of their time away. It’s all too easy to do a thumb suck on estimating only to find out after the project is over you’ve probably given your client the deal of the century. It’s always those clients that come back, as well, wanting the same good deal. A little old-fashioned time keeping can solve a lot of problems.

    Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • http://www.bizsugar.com Heather Stone

    Sarah,
    Thanks for sharing this with the BizSugar community. If you don’t know how much time you’re spending on projects, you don’t know what your time is worth. That’s a huge problem because it could turn out your business is unsustainable or that it will become unsustainable over time if you don’t carefully keep track. Figure out not only the time you are putting in but what else you could be doing with that time and then figure out whether the compensation is worth the opportunity cost.

  • http://www.globalcopywriting.com Sarah Mitchell

    Thank you, Scott. Once I get my new website up and running, I’ll be cooking with gas!

  • http://www.bcr.com.au Scott Brunelle

    It is great to see your posts are back Sarah.