There are those public relations agencies which still formally track time spent on an account.
My psychic, who like many in the New York Metro area I use as a sort of therapist, bills in 15-minute slots. Go over, and I incur another full 15 minutes I have to pay for. That's just the way it is. You bet, I keep my eye on the clock.
Yet, some of us free agents have been reluctant to make clear that, well, time is money.
Not that we want to come across as crass capitalists. After all, there should be civility in all forms of business. However, when we accept a project rate and the client is sucking up our time without any seeming useful purpose, then we better get the hang of the mindset of some kind of billable hour.
Twice recently I had to bring this up shortly after an assignment with a fixed price started. The transactions weren't pretty.
In one situation, the client, despite the contract, changed direction. The topic of the book would be different. There would be two authors, not one. Lots more work for this ghostwriter. First I complied. Then I started thinking about time's being money. That's because I was indeed putting a lot more time than anticipate in this project.
I consulted a few lawyers who owed me favors - here is my syndicated legal blog - and they told me two things. There had been a breach of contract. If I wanted to exit I had every right to. If the client and I chose to continue, there should be more money.
The second situation was a fixed price for a monthly column on the client's website. Fine. There were some edits. Fine. The work was considered complete and the money paid. Then came the first conversation. It lasted 18 minutes. When the client indicated that there would be a second very soon, I questioned the need for another consultation. My gut told me that he was picking my brain. Again, I ran this by some lawyers. They said this relationship didn't seem fixable, so exit. I did, nicely and within the terms of the contract.
The lawyers also brought up a good point: At the beginning of any business transaction, we free agents have to get the message across that time is money. If we have high Emotional Intelligence (EI) we will do that with class. And we can prevent downward trajectories as the work commences.
The burden is on us to communicate: Time is money. If the message isn't getting across, we are the ones at fault.