I've been doing web development for a while and have done a few sites for clients. I've coded several Wordpress plugins and themes as well as some web apps. So I know some stuff
I had a job offer appear out of nowhere and was offered $35 an hour to help on their projects three days a week. This is less than I was billing out at, but I thought the steady work would make up for that and I wouldn't have to hunt around for my own clients. This is also my first job coding.
What I didn't understand when I signed up was that they don't actually pay me for any time spent learning anything new including their code base and the CMS they're using (MODX) which I'm completely unfamiliar with. I told them from the start I've never used MODX. They also don't pay for any time spent talking over Skype about tasks which is usually 1 to 2hrs a day. Basically I only get paid when I'm actually coding and my fingers are on the keyboard.
My hours actually get directly passed on to the client and they take a large cut so if I go outside their estimate I have to usually stop the clock. Right now I'm always over the time budget as all the sites are foreign to me as well as the CMS and most of the code.
One day I billed for 30 minutes and worked for 7.5 hours. I was given a huge block of code for a MODX gallery that I had to make some modifications to. I was unfamilar with most of what was happening because it was using a tonne of MODX stuff I was completely unfamiliar with. I had no choice but to take the whole day just to learn a bunch of stuff. I've had other days where I've worked for 8 hours and billed for 2.5. My best day every was 4.5 billable hours.
When I had my own clients I'd bill for answering their questions, talking to them on the phone, walking them through using their sites, looking up Wordpress functions etc. Basically for every minute of my time the took and they didn't seem to mind as long as my initial estimates we're close and I delivered something they were happy with.
Is this a normal industry practice? I'm seriously already thinking of finding my own clients again. They tell me it will get better as I have less learning to do and I start learning their systems. It's been three weeks now.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated.