Blog Post

Do You Charge For Your Phone Time?


An announcement from Freshbooks got me thinking about how I monitor and bill – or not bill – for the time I spend on the phone with clients. As a web worker, I haven’t felt compelled to consider phone time as consulting time because I am always thinking more in concrete deliverables.

However, when I saw the information about a new add-on to Freshbooks that makes it easy to bill clients based on cell phone records, I began to wonder if I’m thinking about my billable time in the wrong ways.

Leave it to my online invoicing system to get me once again re-examine how I am charging for my time and services. Last time it was looking at recurring revenues.

Freshbooks just partnered with Skydeck to automatically match the calls logged into a free Skydeck account with your client’s numbers in your FreshBooks account.

Skydeck helps you keep track of cell phone calls and text messages to map out your call and messaging history. To get started with their FreshBooks add-on, all you have to do is log in the time you spent on the phone with your clients to your timesheet and you can bill your clients.

  1. First, make sure you have your client phone numbers entered into their accounts in FreshBooks. (I don’t so I’d have to do this).
  2. Sign up for Skydeck (US compatible only – sorry rest of the world).
  3. Connect to Skydeck through FreshBooks.
  4. Start tracking call time. The add-on matches calls from your cell phone with client phone numbers in Freshbooks.

I’m sure this is something lawyers and other consultants who charge by 15 minute increments already have all worked out. But as a web worker, I just haven’t really thought about this before. Since I do all my business phone calls on a cell phone, maybe I should be not only thinking about it but looking into the Freshbook add-on to implement phone call tracking.

Am I the only one not tracking time on the phone with clients? This is different from phone consultations. I just finished a 1-hour phone consult and will be invoicing the client for that time. I just watched the clock – I didn’t need any fancy widget for this. But I’m talking about the time we spend troubleshooting with a client or answering their questions during the work process of a project. (See some more discussion about how we charge for time in this joint post with Celine Roque.)

Do you build your phone time into your project price? Do you write down a log or use a time tracking widget from start to finish of the call? Are you tracking and charging for phone time?

8 Responses to “Do You Charge For Your Phone Time?”

  1. We do bill for time on the phone mainly because it’s time we could be using to bill another client. You only have so much time to give. And regardless of what medium you use to communicate your expertise, you need to bill for that time. In other words, if you don’t bill for your phone time, you are decreasing your billable time.

  2. When I first started my writing services business, I tried to build a phone consult into my rates but most clients didn’t take advantage of it. However, a select few would want to do a call and stay on the phone forever. I felt like the way I was charging wasn’t fair to those who didn’t want or need a call. Now I do charge separate for consults but I am thinking of reintroducing a fifteen-minute call with each project.

  3. Great post and an interesting point. I tend to build it into a quote, but would certainly bill the client if it was above and beyond my expectations.

    I would however, make it very clear that I would be doing that, as otherwise I would foresee some problems.

    Skydeck looks great and have already emailed them saying UK service please!

  4. I build “normal” phone/communication time into my project price, as I expect an honest amount of communication about a project. This way, small phone conversations don’t get too nit-picky when bills are presented.

    Sometimes, I have to bill extra though for long conversations. A couple of months ago I spent almost 90 minutes on the phone with a client, which I should have taken only 15 minutes. He got billed for the time.