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How much would you charge per hour to do at-home tech support?
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Jun 24, 2013, 02:49 PM
 
One of my friends in the neighborhood suggested I advertise on our neighborhood's nextdoor site that I can do tech support and hardware repair stuff while I'm still unemployed. Seems like a legit enough idea to me, but what would be a reasonable per-hour rate for work?
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 03:00 PM
 
1.Find local tech support options
2.Learn their rate
3.Undercut by a few dollars/hour
4.???
5.Profit
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 03:18 PM
 
^ 4. is "hope that nobody notices I'm running a side business while unemployed."

Or at least, it would be, here in Germany, where such income can be directly subtracted from unemployment benefits… certainly a consideration if you're going to advertise.
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 03:27 PM
 
I didn't qualify for unemployment. Since mid-January, I've been living on my savings and the fact that my boyfriend makes enough to support us both.

P.S. Save the "that's cause your country sucks" BS for another thread. Not interested.
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 03:34 PM
 
That's cause your country sucks.
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 03:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
P.S. Save the "that's cause your country sucks" BS for another thread. Not interested.
Save the "everybody hates us me" bullshit for some other forum.

I'm not out to get you, and made no indication that I was. I had no way of knowing that you didn't qualify for unemployment benefits.


———————————————— ——

Now:

Wouldn't that work qualify as taxable income?
I have no idea how freelancing works in the US.

Tax bureau folks here do scour classifieds for this kind of thing, and I know that they check the web for listed concerts, and compare them to the reported income and shows of working musicians. Yes, they actually have the personnel that gets paid to do this. It boggles the mind.
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 03:46 PM
 
Your country sucks too!
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 04:39 PM
 
The IRS has a little leeway for "hobby income" and there are a few qualifications for what must be reported.

Publication 535 (2012), Business Expenses
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 04:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Your country sucks too!
Yes, it does.

In fact, tax laws here are pretty much universally acknowledged to be the most convoluted and complex pieces of legalese bullshit known to man (that is NOT an exaggeration).

According to a tax accountant I've worked with, the only chance we have is to blow everything sky-high and start over at zero.

He wasn't kidding.

This is hardly relevant to shif's interests, though, so I'll drop it.
     
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Jun 24, 2013, 07:00 PM
 
WRT taxable income: depends on how much it is. I think like under $5k doesn't really have to be reported. If I only made $5k AND I had no other income, the entire calendar year (which is almost correct; I only had one paycheck in 2013), my income would be low enough that I wouldn't owe any taxes and would qualify for various tax credits on the little income I did make, because technically I'm under the poverty line.

None of this answers the original question. What hourly rate is reasonable?
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 12:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
WRT taxable income: depends on how much it is. I think like under $5k doesn't really have to be reported. If I only made $5k AND I had no other income, the entire calendar year (which is almost correct; I only had one paycheck in 2013), my income would be low enough that I wouldn't owe any taxes and would qualify for various tax credits on the little income I did make, because technically I'm under the poverty line.

None of this answers the original question. What hourly rate is reasonable?
It's under $600. If it's under $600 it doesn't need a 1099-MISC, otherwise it does, and these should be reported. If you don't get a 1099-MISC you'd get a W-2, which would need to be reported too, as I understand things.

Speaking of which, not many self-employed dudes know that there are benefits to operating under an LLC rather than a self-proprietor. I'm still learning about what these benefits are, but I thought I'd throw that out there, because it certainly isn't intuitive that people like us are eligible to form an LLC.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 01:22 AM
 
I would charge $20-$30 an hour for family and friends only. Make sure to get a signed contract from everyone.
{{{ mindwaves }}}
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 02:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
None of this answers the original question. What hourly rate is reasonable?
See, that's what I was getting at.

If you were to lose unemployment benefits, it would be a whole different calculation. If it's taxable, it's a whole different calculation, because you have to add the taxes on top of the minimum you need to see. If you have to pay your own health insurance, the rates come out of your income. If this is "under the radar", so to speak, the rates figure very differently, but so do the risks and responsibilities when something goes wrong.
Is this the start of a small business, or a hobby?

When I was still doing freelance support, everything official cost about twice the rate for friends and neighbors, plus VAT.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 02:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post

P.S. Save the "that's cause your country sucks" BS for another thread. Not interested.
When did shif moved to Spain and why wasn't I told.?
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 02:32 AM
 
Spain sucks!
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 08:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
See, that's what I was getting at.

If you were to lose unemployment benefits, it would be a whole different calculation. If it's taxable, it's a whole different calculation, because you have to add the taxes on top of the minimum you need to see. If you have to pay your own health insurance, the rates come out of your income. If this is "under the radar", so to speak, the rates figure very differently, but so do the risks and responsibilities when something goes wrong.
Is this the start of a small business, or a hobby?

When I was still doing freelance support, everything official cost about twice the rate for friends and neighbors, plus VAT.
The question is what will the market bear, not what net pay makes it worth doing.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 10:03 AM
 
This has gotten way more complicated than it has to be. All I'm trying to do is the tech version of babysitting - just my neighborhood, just to make a little cash and keep myself busy while I look for real work.

I'm not looking to start a business. I'm more looking to see if anyone in my immediate vicinity has a computer with a bad hard drive or a busted LCD and doesn't have the time or money to get it fixed by the shitty Geek Squad.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 01:26 PM
 
Just do a quick scope of the competition and then undercut by as much as you can bear.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 01:31 PM
 
If local companies charge $120, then you charge $70-80. Here the rates are $90-100 /hr, so I've seen independent techs charging in the $60 ballpark. Start a simple spreadsheet with customer and repair info, to track what you did and what you were paid. Easy-peasy.
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Jun 25, 2013, 01:34 PM
 
$50/hr under the table is nothing to sneeze at.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 01:52 PM
 
This is probably bad, but...

To me, $60 an hour to fix a computer is highway robbery, particularly since I really like fixing computers. I was wondering in the back of my mind if $20/hr would be charging too much.

Obviously the cost of hardware is another story, but if we're just talking about the cost of labor....
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 02:07 PM
 
Find out what your local best buy charges, and go under that.

$20 an hour is barely above babysitting pay up here, so if you want to be taken seriously prob should charge almost prof rate.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 02:49 PM
 
I guess I'm just out of the loop.

I only made $7/hr babysitting.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 02:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
The question is what will the market bear, not what net pay makes it worth doing.
No, that is the OTHER question.

The combined answers of those two questions is how you decide whether something is worth doing or not.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 03:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
This is probably bad, but...

To me, $60 an hour to fix a computer is highway robbery, particularly since I really like fixing computers. I was wondering in the back of my mind if $20/hr would be charging too much.
The secret to a happy career is to find something you really enjoy doing, that you're really good at, and that other people are willing to pay you a lot for.

The fact that you actually ENJOY doing what you're getting paid for makes you MORE valuable, and if you're good at it and want to keep enjoying it, you need to make sure that you aren't undervalued.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 03:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
I guess I'm just out of the loop.

I only made $7/hr babysitting.
I thought $3 was big money!
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 03:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
The secret to a happy career is to find something you really enjoy doing, that you're really good at, and that other people are willing to pay you a lot for.

The fact that you actually ENJOY doing what you're getting paid for makes you MORE valuable, and if you're good at it and want to keep enjoying it, you need to make sure that you aren't undervalued.
Seconded. I love building/renovating homes, I'm damn good at it and I'm paid handsomely to do so. A side business could easily turn into a full fledged business and given Shif's love of tech that seems like a natural fit.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 04:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
This is probably bad, but...

To me, $60 an hour to fix a computer is highway robbery, particularly since I really like fixing computers. I was wondering in the back of my mind if $20/hr would be charging too much.

Obviously the cost of hardware is another story, but if we're just talking about the cost of labor....
The lower you price your own work, the less people will value it. Offering a good price is one thing, but I'd never go under $40 /hr, no matter the circumstances.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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Jun 25, 2013, 04:03 PM
 
Yeah but I want to own a coffee shop more. Unfortunately operating a business like that is going to require extensive planning and available capital to even start.
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 04:16 PM
 
     
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Jun 25, 2013, 08:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
This is probably bad, but...

To me, $60 an hour to fix a computer is highway robbery, particularly since I really like fixing computers. I was wondering in the back of my mind if $20/hr would be charging too much.

Obviously the cost of hardware is another story, but if we're just talking about the cost of labor....
Me too. That is why I suggested 20-30 which is much more reasonable.
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Jun 25, 2013, 10:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by mindwaves View Post
Me too. That is why I suggested 20-30 which is much more reasonable.
Then people will believe your work is only worth $20-30 /hr and wonder what's wrong with you. That's just how people think. The more you charge, to a point, the more you're respected as a service person.
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Jun 25, 2013, 11:18 PM
 
Also, you're dragging down the expectations of pay rate.
     
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Jun 26, 2013, 04:28 AM
 
Shaddim is right.

People who are happy to pay more are happy to pay more. People who want to pay bottom dollar (I'm guessing many of these are geek squad customers) will expect a hell of a lot more from you for that lower amount. You'll get a constant barrage of "Oh while you're here..." and "Would you mind just....?" If you indulge them, and then try to bill for the extra time they'll try to hold you to your original estimate which was of course for half as much work.

For $20 an hour they will figure its worth the risk if they can con you in to a few freebies. For $60 they won't try and you'll end up with fewer but decent customers who have plenty of money (thus pay on time) who just don't want the hassle of maintaining/installing/repairing and are glad to pay someone reliable, professional and trustworthy to make their problems go away. They'll be more likely to have lots of other expensive tech in the house for you to keep working and probably have like-minded friends as well.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Jun 26, 2013, 04:47 AM
 
^ All that.

I've also been on the other end, and was offered some audio services for crazy cheap from a friend whom I know does top-notch work. It was uncanny: the lower he went in his price ("well, here's what I normally charge, and for you, it's this, and with that number of tracks, I'll go there"), the more he achieved the opposite of what he intended. I could watch my attitude change towards his work until it felt like it wasn't worth having him do it.

That was a pretty strong lesson.
(In the end, I doubled his fee and gave him the job)

I actually do work for free for friends, or on projects I really want to support, or for promo, but I no longer work for cheap.
     
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Jun 26, 2013, 09:27 AM
 
Well, I'm also starting to reconsider because of liability problems. I don't want to immediately jump into anything like an actual business (incorporation, registering with the state, quarterly taxes, etc.), either. If I fix someone's machine, it has a problem later, and they try to blame it on me, I'd pretty much be SOL if they sued me.

That said I'm wondering if it would be adequate to just have some kind of basic waiver/contract to sign for any work (e.g. if I replace your hard drive, data recovery is not a guarantee).
     
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Jun 26, 2013, 01:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
Well, I'm also starting to reconsider because of liability problems. I don't want to immediately jump into anything like an actual business (incorporation, registering with the state, quarterly taxes, etc.), either. If I fix someone's machine, it has a problem later, and they try to blame it on me, I'd pretty much be SOL if they sued me.

That said I'm wondering if it would be adequate to just have some kind of basic waiver/contract to sign for any work (e.g. if I replace your hard drive, data recovery is not a guarantee).


I'm sure a waiver is pretty standard practice. Suing people over technology not working is just lame.
     
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Jun 26, 2013, 01:37 PM
 
Yep, that's never a bad idea. Waiver > $50 /hr (enough to dissuade being "abused") > profit.
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Jun 26, 2013, 01:47 PM
 
The waiver should state that your data is ALWAYS your problem/responsibility. I don't know anyone who ever takes responsibility for other people's data.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Jun 28, 2013, 11:54 AM
 
High school kids do this sort of stuff all the time for their parent's friends and people in the neighborhood. Just require they do a back-up, or back stuff up for them, and do your thing. I second the waiver just in case.

Start at something like $20/hr. Don't advertise the price; the signs can say something like I do discount computer repairs. After gauging the demand and doing a few jobs, decide if your time is worth more. Like you said this is just a light hearted side thing so you don't have to get it perfect right from the start. When people ask you the price they will want a straight answer; not "I charge $20/hr". So estimate how much time it will take you to fix then present it as you charge $20/hr and this will take 2 hrs so a flat fee of $40. Don't charge them for the time it takes OS to install either. One of my neighbors used to go to the shop paying $150 to get his computer fixed each time (removing spyware etc). I reminded him that he could have bought a new computer with just a few trips to the shop. It left a sour taste in my mouth. That shop is one of those that takes advantage of old and poor uneducated people. My philosophy in business is not to try and squeeze as much blood from the turnip as I can; instead just do the right thing, go the extra mile, spend more time with them if they ask (if you have time), the most important thing is making them happy and coming out a little ahead in the process. Just watch out from the government in all this... they are gong to be your worst enemy. Im sure they technically require a plethora of permits, licenses, fees, insurance and taxes to do all this.

A professional shop down here charges $200 minimum for laptop repairs... Just to give you an idea of how far you can take this.
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Jun 29, 2013, 01:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
This has gotten way more complicated than it has to be. All I'm trying to do is the tech version of babysitting - just my neighborhood, just to make a little cash and keep myself busy while I look for real work.

I'm not looking to start a business. I'm more looking to see if anyone in my immediate vicinity has a computer with a bad hard drive or a busted LCD and doesn't have the time or money to get it fixed by the shitty Geek Squad.
One other thing to consider when putting your rate out there: warranty support. ANYTHING that breaks after you touch the machine will be your fault, no matter what. This is especially true with those folks who have another relationship with you (family, friends, etc.) So... set your rate high enough to compensate for the endless hours you'll spend fixing all of the things that you didn't break to start with.

I hate that it's like this, but after staying at the top of the fixit food chain for about 30 years now this is the burden you will bear. It's like this with cars, appliances, musical instruments, electronics, you name it. And the more mystical the device, the more the reliance on superstition to explain problems.
He can be fixed -- you can't.
     
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Jun 30, 2013, 07:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by finboy View Post
One other thing to consider when putting your rate out there: warranty support. ANYTHING that breaks after you touch the machine will be your fault, no matter what. This is especially true with those folks who have another relationship with you (family, friends, etc.) So... set your rate high enough to compensate for the endless hours you'll spend fixing all of the things that you didn't break to start with.

I hate that it's like this, but after staying at the top of the fixit food chain for about 30 years now this is the burden you will bear. It's like this with cars, appliances, musical instruments, electronics, you name it. And the more mystical the device, the more the reliance on superstition to explain problems.
Oh, I know. If someone wants me to call Dell or HP for them or take a machine to the Apple Store (ugh) for them, I'll do that - for a fee, of course. Saves them time, keeps the machine under warranty.

I'd like to become Dell certified and just let them give me work. It's pretty lucrative - they contract out all their onsite support to third parties, and a lot of times, it's a one-man operation. I just need to figure out how to actually DO that.
     
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Jul 2, 2013, 07:21 AM
 
Travel $65 bucks an hour. $125 an hour for basic troubleshooting/hardware support. $175 to $225 hour for software/OS troubleshooting.
     
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Jul 2, 2013, 05:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post

Start at something like $20/hr. Don't advertise the price; the signs can say something like I do discount computer repairs. After gauging the demand and doing a few jobs, decide if your time is worth more. Like you said this is just a light hearted side thing so you don't have to get it perfect right from the start.

...

A professional shop down here charges $200 minimum for laptop repairs... Just to give you an idea of how far you can take this.
You should charge more $$$ for the first hour and then less for the next one(s). That will make sure the "tire-kickers" cover their cost. Those are the folks who want you to reinstall Windows in an hour, that type of thing, and they won't be back regardless. That will also cover for the lost time you'll have to take for the complainers that think you broke their computer once it starts getting pron viruses two weeks later.
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