The nature of my freelance work is to be actively communicating with the client to get the project done by the deadline time. (This is a hard deadline like "noon, on Tuesday" or "Thursday by 10PM), as it is usually my job to send the files to the printerby then.) I never know if I should bill for "on call time." Once I send the final proof to the client, I am basically still chained to my desk to be able to make any final corrections or get the final approval to send to the printer ASAP. Some times this can be 30min, but other times it can be 2-5 hours. There are definitely wait times throughout the project (waiting for assets to be uploaded for me to work on), and I do not bill for those.
But my work is a deadline driven industry (newspaper/magazine design) and once I've submitted the final proof, I'm still not finished as I need the final OK and then upload the files to the client's printer. And if the client has a problem or issue at any point after the final proof, they expect me to make the edit right away, "becuase we are on deadline."
So, my question is: is it OK to bill for wait time between the final proof and the PDF for printer? Prior to remote work, if I was physically in a company's office, the employer would be paying me hourly to sit there waiting for pages to be proofed.
**to clarify: if there is another project I could be doing while I wait, I absolutely would not bill the client I am waiting on. But often times, I create my schedule so that deadline day is solely devoted to the client with the deadline.
My work is also very deadline-driven, but I normally only charge for the hours that I'm actually working on a project. An exception would be if a client asks me to block out an entire day for them - then they do get charged whether they use the time or not (otherwise, I can't guarantee instant service, as I'm usually working on 4-6 projects at a time). I don't think it's reasonable to expect to be paid in the same way as if I were physically present in the client's office, but that's why my freelancing rate is higher than my full-time rate would be; I only expect to average 20 billable hours per week. I think your hourly rate may be too low.
That's the thing, the client(s) expect instant service for the day (or days), but often some of them miss their own deadlines leaving me sitting around refreshig my computer waiting for them. Sometimes I do have other projects I will work on (and I would not bill my time if I was working on another's project) but often I do block the day out and then lose the day because they don't have the "sense of urgency" on their end, even though they do have a hard deadline to the printer. That makes my window of work time even shorter since I am the one against the hard deadline/printer window.
As for my rate, I 100% agree that it's too low, but after years of experimenting with it, it seems to be the sweet spot since clients aren't willing to pay more than that and a lot of people are willing to work for much less. I wish Upwork would give clients a broad outline of category skills and their rough costs. Some clients post for a 24 page magazine with a $100 budget. Um, no.