We frequently approach marketers with great marketing contract staffing roles and other interim job opportunities. However, one common problem is that they’re unsure what a reasonable rate is for their hourly work. This is especially common in professionals who have spent their entire careers working full-time positions.
These days, marketers can get great work as interim marketing consultants, freelancers, interim marketing executives, contractors and more. Use this guide to get a basic understanding of what a reasonable hourly rate is to ask for your next interim position.
The Basic Formula
One easy way to get an estimated hourly rate is to start with a rough desired annual income and then figure out how much you need to make per hour to hit that number.
Then you can use this formula to get a rough estimate:
Hourly Rate = Yearly Income ÷ Hours Worked in the Year
The total amount of hours you might work varies depending on your circumstances and the nature of the roles you work. A standard assumption is 40 hours per week for 50 weeks a year (taking into account some sick days, company holidays and vacation) which comes out to a nice round figure of 2,000 hours. Once you have that, it’s a simple matter of plugging it in and doing the math.
For instance, imagine you want to make around $60,000 per year. That leaves us with
Hourly Rate = $60,000 ÷ 2000 hours = $30/hour
Pretty simple, right? And it’s easy enough to modify if you expect to work different amounts of hours throughout the year, or want to change the time frame.
You can also reverse the formula to get a rough idea of how competitive the listed rate of an open position is. For instance, imagine you found a contract job online that was offering $42 an hour and you wanted to know if that was more than you’re making now. By reversing the formula, you get
$42/hour × 2000 hours = $84,000 Annual Income
If you don’t feel like crunching numbers, you can use an already-existing rate calculator like this one to help you out. Make sure you keep all the assumptions consistent throughout your calculations!
Things to Consider
Interim Marketing Often Pays More Per Hour Than Full Time Counterparts
Assuming comparable work at comparable businesses, you can usually expect to make significantly more per hour than someone working a similar position full-time.
There are several reasons for this:
- First, interim/contract marketing jobs are by nature riskier and more uncertain than full-time positions. While there’s no such thing as a ‘permanent job,” most full-time roles are offered and accepted with a longer-term expectation. On the other hand, a contract position might last just a few weeks or months, and some freelance work might last just a few days. That means professionals who want to make a career of interim work have the additional responsibility of constantly searching for their next gig, and might have to go significant periods of time between work. Their higher hourly rate helps compensate for that uncertainty.
- Second, these roles often don’t come with many benefits that are common among full-time marketing jobs; especially health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. When working on an interim basis, you take on the responsibility (and cost) of these benefits, though that can be mitigated by working through a staffing firm (we’ll get to that later). You’ll also be responsible for a slew of taxes normally managed by the employer. Keep in mind that, as it stands, the Affordable Care Act requires you to have health insurance and you can be fined if you don’t have it. The higher rate helps offset these additional costs.
Take these risks and costs into account when setting your own rate.
It’s not uncommon for interim marketing consultants and contractors with an in-demand skillset and track record of success to get an additional 20% or more per hour than their full-time counterparts. So if you’re used to an annual income of $50,000, it might be reasonable to start with a base target of about $60,000 when working out the calculation we mentioned above.
Keep in mind you’re likely competing against other candidates for the same role. Set a rate too high, and you might be overlooked for a great opportunity! Also remember that money isn’t everything; sometimes a great opportunity to work with a famous brand or get some key experience is more valuable to your long-term career than a big hourly rate.
Doing it Alone vs Working with a Partner
The severity of the risks and costs mentioned above depend on whether you’re operating as an independent contractor or working through an established party like a marketing staffing firm or agency of interim marketing consultants.
In such an arrangement, you typically become an employee of this party but work as you normally would on an hourly basis for a client. When working with such a partner, your risk is reduced somewhat because they can help you find new work you’re qualified for and act as an experienced mediator if there’s a dispute or problem. And as employers, they’ll provide you with insurance and potentially other benefits.
Be Prepared to Make Your Case
Marketers have more ability than most to build a strong case for a higher hourly wage. Thanks to all the analytics and tracking capabilities available these days, it’s never been easier to show evidence of just how valuable you are. And once you have that proof, you’re in an excellent position to ask for what you deserve.
The more evidence you can provide via hard data that you’re worth it, the more likely you are to get the role at or near the rate you list when applying to interim roles.
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