CR Blog

Question of the Week 25.08.09

Graphic Design

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 25 August 2009, 10:56    Permalink    Comments (67)

This week, we want to know how you go about charging for your creative work...

Tim Fendley, creative director at AIG, recalled the late Alan Fletcher's advice on how to charge clients on the CR Blog in 2006:

"Think of the right number and then double it. If the client doesn't have a sharp intake of breath then you've shot too low," was Fletcher's inimitable take on it.

So how do you go about the business of making money from your work?

Do you work out a day rate for jobs? Charge per hour? Does the size of the client involved make a difference to your pricing?

How do you ensure you get a good rate of return with each job?

Do you ever take on a client knowing that you might even lose money – but that the long term benefits of doing the job outweigh the initial costs?

What about those jobs you do just for the money? During a debate between Rick Poynor and Pentagram's Michael Bierut that we featured in CR in 2004, Bierut said:

"Speaking as someone who enthusiastically sold out, every time I've done something just for the money, no matter how much they paid, it was never enough."

Let us know what you think.

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67 Comments

In the words of my Grand farther, "charge as much as you can as painlessly as you can." I have followed this as mantra all my life as did my farther!
Trevor Collins
2009-08-25 12:18:32


I don't charge enough! That's what everyone keeps telling me. I really need to value my time better and charge accordingly. I'll get it one day!
Jodi
2009-08-25 12:37:20


I'm doing graphic design work for a company I was hired to do tech support for so I'm not charging anything. I'm just on a monthly salary. But when I do freelance stuff... gee... it's usually family or friends of family or friends of friends and it's the worst to settle on payments. Any suggestions?
Kári
2009-08-25 12:42:37


Depends.

Daily rate. Hourly rate. Fixed fee rate. Mates rates. All apply.

Take on clients and lose money? Yes. It does happen but the rewards can be more work from the same client.

My accountant told me to 'be greedy'. I was quite shocked at this, as I'm not that way inclined. But it's no different to Alan Fletcher's advice (as above) really. I priced a job high recently (because I didn't want to do it, and new it would be a headache)...and I didn't get it, it was a relief.
gridula
2009-08-25 13:07:33


You are doing your job to make money. To pay your mortgage. To go on holiday. To eat. To cloth your kids? etc. Are you good at what you do? Honestly...?

Then with plumbers and motor mechanics charging £60-£80ph I see no reason why with all my 18 year's experience I should charge any less.

Or your other rule of thumb is, what do I need to earn a year? Be realistic but keep some ambition. Divide it by 48 (weeks you work a year). Divide it by 40 (hours you work a week). And what's left is the *minimum* your should be making an hour.
Simon Watson
2009-08-25 13:15:44


Simon, I have to disagree with that formula! As a photographer I spend more time on other business activities than actually 'on the set'. By the time you add up all the time spent on making quotes, client meetings, marketing, accounting, managing staff, etc, the time spent actually doing the paid work is a small minority.

So in my case, every hour of actual photography work has to support me for a half a week. I'm sure I'm not alone in that.
Graham
2009-08-25 13:41:39


Look at the job » wince » suck in teeth » shake head » ask which cowboy did the work previously and then tell the client it'll cost 'em.

Most of the comments here are sound. We are in the business to help others get exposure or sell more of whatever they're selling so we can't afford to undersell ourselves. You worked hard to get were you are, lawyers, dentists would do the same so why shouldn't good design cost more? In life you can always buy cheaper if you look harder but most of the time you'll need to buy twice before getting the desired results.
Hon
2009-08-25 13:56:30


Starting to wonder why I did a Design Degree and two years at college, as I'm constantly coming across people who were office assistants and 'technical support' turning over to design it makes me soooo mad!!!! Maybe I should of trained as a secretary and moved over. Ridiculous!
Jon
2009-08-25 14:08:04


I think the price you set is a balance between Simon and Graham's post especially as a one man band. Work out the maximum time you actually spend creating and get a day rate set for that - mine is 6. Charge by the day - not per hour. The rest of the time goes on admin, getting more work in and writing posts like this one! This will give you a more accurate chance of hitting what you need to earn, in order to live in the manner you want to, and actually completing the work in the time you allocate to each project.

There is an interesting article in the latest .net magazine about charging for work as a web agency by Mark Boulton and an online calculator here: http://freelanceswitch.com/rates/
Jon Elliman
2009-08-25 14:08:32


I charge what I think will be acceptable to the company I am working for, the project that I am intended to work on and the amount of enjoyment/stress/pain/pleasure it will generate.

If it's going to be a tough slog, with lots of stress, then the price rises.
If it's a good project, with the potential of giving me pleasure and the possibility of more work or a spring board to something else, then I drop the price.

I have a maximum price, a minimum price and in between I have the negotiation prices.
Asking the right questions during your initial work meetings allows you to work out what pricing you should be charging... It's not fail-safe but it usually returns a win-win situation, which in todays economic climate is a much needed part for any business.
Craig
2009-08-25 14:14:49


I find myself charging down quite a lot. My rate for graphic design is usually £50/hr. Even if something has taken me a day and a half (£600) I can't help but look at the what I've produced and how much it will benefit the client and what I can justify and how productive I was during the 12 hours and how long I took for lunch and how noisily my daughter was distracting me and all these other things and eventually charge a bit less. It's the nice guy in me, or maybe it's a remnant of when I was starting out 12 years ago when I didn't value my time very much, being a beginner.

In most cases these people couldn't care less whether it's one thousand or two thousand so really, I'm just ripping myself off. We as designers need to value our time highly so that others will too.
Keir
2009-08-25 14:15:46


A decent rule of thumb for freelancers is that your billable rate should be the same figure as your desired annual salary. For example, if you aspire to make $50k, you should charge $50/hr. Unfortunately, we usually don't bill a solid 40 hours a week, but more like 20-25.
Prescott Perez-Fox
2009-08-25 14:29:23


@ Graham

I said the "minimum"... ;-)

Also, I would include the time I spend estimating and preping for a job as part of my costs for a job (overhead if you like). But agreed, no foolproof formula, but you have to start somewhere and once you have a notional cost you can then 'adjust' if required.

The trick though is not to undervalue your time / experience etc and work for nothing...
Simon Watson
2009-08-25 14:36:16


It all depends on who the client is and exactly what they want from you. The client wants it as cheaply as possible and you want as much as you can get for the job. If you know the client well you can afford to haggle as you will have already established an idea of what can be charged from previous work with them - aim high and, if necessary, settle lower. If not you need to make an educated guess which is neither too greedy nor too little. The final figure is a combination of hourly/daily rate multiplied by the estimated time it will take plus a consideration for any hassle involved (in the sense of changes anticipated and goalposts moved). You also need to take into account the type of client. You are not going to get huge sums from a publishing company for an illustration, for instance. Whereas an annual report cover for a large agency is sure to earn you a better rate.
Paul Wootton
2009-08-25 14:45:18


It ain't the hour it took to do the job that should set the price … it's the many. many years spent in learning how to do it well.
Andy Sellers
2009-08-25 14:46:30


As a fashion Photographer based in London, I ask my clients their requirements and quote them a figure. If i get the sharp intake of breath, I go:

'But that's including hair and makeup'

If they're calm as a breeze and don't bat an eyelid, i casually drop: 'Oh and of course, hair and makeup are on top'

I guess it's about assessing your client and their budget properly...

Another simple one is to ask them: 'What's your budget?' and frequently people will be honest...
Hugh O'Malley Fashion and Beauty Photographer London
2009-08-25 14:57:44


Double it and add thirty.

Oh, wait, that's temperature.
Vic
2009-08-25 15:10:13


Working out what to charge is one of my greatest career challenges.
It takes years to get the balance anywhere near right.
It also depends on a number of other factors - how many people do
you employ or is it priced on yourself as a sole trader ? is this a
regular client or a new client ? Judging the charge for regular clients
is an easier challenge because you've set the parameters on previous
jobs. Working out the charge for new clients takes real vision and and
acquiring a sense for what type of client they are likely to be. Calculating
time, rates per hour, cost of goods are all necessary but judging your client's
brief and the type of relationship or creative engagement they wish to have,
could mean financial success or failure.
Mark Blenkinsop
2009-08-25 15:12:45


That flash of brilliance can take a week to come after exhausting every avenue or it can take a second.

How do you charge for that.. a... tell me!!!

Oh it only took a second so the design fee will be 28p or that took a week so it will be £3K

Artwork is a simple by the hour rate and I guess how many hours before a job and charge accordingly.
Got that down to a T.

Authors changes are always a challenge. They think its only changing a comma, but as I point out it's not.
Its stopping what you are doing. Opening the job, making the change sending a new pdf and administering the change.

One of my clients once said... " It must be a good deal we are both unhappy"

I never forgot that.
Paul Phillips
2009-08-25 15:12:59


The cheapest is not usually the best. Try to be competitive within the level of work that you deliver. But always remember - you can always reduce a price in negotiation but never increase it!!
John Giles
2009-08-25 15:22:13


As a photographer my quote consists of a dayrate plus production costs and in most cases a buyout, specifying the usage.

Some clients immediately balk at this model, for budget reasons, if the client is interesting enough for me (i.e. I need money og the job is fun or great for my book) I can lower my dayrate and give up the buyout. I explain to the client that I have no stake in the production cost, but I am happy to advice clients on how to optimise their production budget (finding a cheaper location, hire studio, lunch etc) this way I may get a client who feels that the total budget would be too expensive. Often if the client has a smallish budget, they may sometimes be open shooting fewer images of a higher standard, instead of more images than is feasible on the budget. This way they may be so happy with the images that they go and find the budget to shoot more...

When initially approached I state a dayrate and if the client is concerned I try to get the client to reveal their budget, in which case I can try and make the job happen, or decide if they have not got the money it takes. I always try my best to meet the clients budget requirements, in the most friendly and professional way. It may be that the job doesn't happen, but the client may come back later, mayby after shooting too low budget, or simply because their budgets may have grown, and the liked how I met them the first time.

I think it is generally a bad idea to do the job if the client doesn't have the money, for several reasons: The jobs that earn me too little tends to also suddenly turn annoyingly difficult. The clients come to expect the unreasonably low price to be standard. The job may not turn out as good, because it is done on a shoestring and when the client has more money, they will go hire someone else who charges more.
Anders
2009-08-25 15:32:01


"Look at the job » wince » suck in teeth » shake head » ask which cowboy did the work previously and then tell the client it'll cost 'em."

I LOL'ed

Remember the old addage: expensive, good, quick; pick 2. Build your business plan around this.

Charge what you think you're worth; simple as. Assuming you're taking into account extra costs and the time taken to find clients/merket etc you'll be fine. But please, I urge you, don't undercharge; it brings your whole industry down a peg; and you'll end up failing and dragging everyone down with you; if anything charge more. Work out your budget, costing etc etc, come up with a sum and add 10%. Most of the time that 10% won't seem like an extra 10% once you're finished.

I knew a guy that would intentionally charge more than every alternative to give the impression of prestige ... it worked; if you can afford to, give it a bash :P

Personally ... Im a webdesigner and half of what I do is persuasive design, i.e. cognitive psychology; I use that same psychology to make money, I don't waste it all on my clients customers :)
n
2009-08-25 15:41:44


Whatever happen to "Commercial Value"? The realisation that everything we creative types produce should have a commercial benefit to our clients..in other words, improve their profitability. Now of course, in that scenario, hourly rates are just a guide because creative brilliance deserves much more value than a day rate. Here's a great example: my agency once produced a brilliant ad that won many awards. It ran in the national agricultural press and it was for a very well known British tractor manufacturer. The concept came in a blinding flash to the creative director and literally took 2 minutes to scamp up (anyone remember magic markers?!). I took it as it was to the client...who loved it. It subsequently helped the client sell over £2million in products...it was an immensley successful campaign. Now, here's the question....do you charge the client for the 2minutes (at hourly rate) or what.....? Of course you don't (and we didn't) but it does put the value of we do into context. The task of course is to educate and manage the clients expectations. My view is to set your stall out as you mean to go on and stick to your beliefs. If you are doing great work the chances are you'll attract great clients who will appreciate your talent. The other key thing to remember is that it's vital to undertake research and measurement of the campaigns effectiveness . Many clients fail to do this, so there's never a commercial benchmark to value the creative idea.....and charge more next time.
Roger Moggs
2009-08-25 15:46:19


Don't forget to factor in client management; those quick emails, IM's and phone calls all add up!
Dean
2009-08-25 15:47:17


When a client asks how much a certain project would cost I tell them I'll send it to them in a minute. Then I go into a super application called iBiz and fill in the different tasks needed to execute it. The program has my different rates in it.

I few minutes I send the client an estimate which is usually at least twice the amount I would have told him over the phone.
Sigurdur Armannsson
2009-08-25 15:47:52


Set it at half your age +10 in pounds. Simple algorythm for level of expertise vs price worth charging.

I'm 28, so I'd charge £24p/h.

If you're 40 with good experience, You'd charge £30.

Ok, so you may tweak these for big budgets or small ones, but it's a good guide to start out with.
http://www.grahamcreative.me
2009-08-25 15:47:54


We usually give a price range, eg £1500-£2000 and state that 'it depends on the complexity, number of correction levels, etc. This usually works well in that the client is usually happy to end up paying somewhere in the middle which, of course, is the price we want them to pay!
Peter Goodman
2009-08-25 15:49:00


Andy Sellers has it right but convincing a client of that fact is very hard when dealing with small companies and one man bands (like most of my client base).

The old saying about the plumber in the basement charging £8000 to fix the heating system in the huge corporate building by whacking a pipe with a hammer (taking less than 10 seconds) holds true. 'It's £1 to whack a pipe with a hammer' says the plumber 'the other £7999 is for knowing where to whack it'.

If only convincing people of the value of design was so easy.
Carl Brown
2009-08-25 15:52:22


It goes up in proportion to the size of the Creative Director's office.
Huw
2009-08-25 15:57:51


Regarding Interactive creative or production work: If it's a friend or something I truly believe in, it's okay for me to charge less. Usually I will come up with a rough quote of hours to complete the job. That number is usually 2 or 3 times more than is originally quote. That way, if you get the job done in less time, everyone is happy. Sometimes doing barter work for someone that would otherwise never seek out your services is the most rewarding. Here is Pittsburgh, PA - USA, I found a VW mechanic that worked on my Vanagon while I helped get him more exposure to customers via online with Google. He only has a telephone (and a mess of VW parts). It was the most rewarding work this past year.
nirav v. patel
2009-08-25 15:59:29


Weigh your crap and times that by 10.
Dave
2009-08-25 16:02:05


"Starting to wonder why I did a Design Degree and two years at college, as I'm constantly coming across people who were office assistants and 'technical support' turning over to design it makes me soooo mad!!!! Maybe I should of trained as a secretary and moved over. Ridiculous!" Jon.

As Onassis said – maybe you should learn to do something nobody else can do.

Here's tip how to double your rate. Learn to write attention grabbing, engaging Ad.s, learn to draw, learn how to sell products that fly out the door and learn to do something the computer can't do. When you stop pushing buttons you might actually be able to make a living.
Telly
2009-08-25 16:15:33


As a photographer my quote consists of a dayrate plus production costs and in most cases a buyout, specifying the usage.

Some clients immediately balk at this model, for budget reasons, if the client is interesting enough for me (i.e. I need money og the job is fun or great for my book) I can lower my dayrate and give up the buyout. I explain to the client that I have no stake in the production cost, but I am happy to advice clients on how to optimise their production budget (finding a cheaper location, hire studio, lunch etc) this way I may get a client who feels that the total budget would be too expensive. Often if the client has a smallish budget, they may sometimes be open shooting fewer images of a higher standard, instead of more images than is feasible on the budget. This way they may be so happy with the images that they go and find the budget to shoot more...

When initially approached I state a dayrate and if the client is concerned I try to get the client to reveal their budget, in which case I can try and make the job happen, or decide if they have not got the money it takes. I always try my best to meet the clients budget requirements, in the most friendly and professional way. It may be that the job doesn't happen, but the client may come back later, mayby after shooting too low budget, or simply because their budgets may have grown, and the liked how I met them the first time.

I think it is generally a bad idea to do the job if the client doesn't have the money, for several reasons: The jobs that earn me too little tends to also suddenly turn annoyingly difficult. The clients come to expect the unreasonably low price to be standard. The job may not turn out as good, because it is done on a shoestring and when the client has more money, they will go hire someone else who charges more.
Anders
2009-08-25 16:28:30


Or another method: Charge in relation to the car they arrive in.
http://www.grahamcreative.me
2009-08-25 16:30:17


Well, what I normally charge is a flat rate of what I think the job/labor should amount to. Then if the job goes past that allotted time frame/complexity then I charge my hourly rate. People enjoy seeing a final number at the beginning, also that hourly rate at the end keeps most people on time with proofing and changes. Hasn't failed me yet.
WMDunkin
2009-08-25 17:04:21


@jon

There's a difference between someone who can use photoshop and a designer. I'm a designer; and I'm highly skilled in usability, persuasive design, user interaction, cognitive psychology in design ... the list goes on. These things aren't picked up by receptionists drafted in to paste a cat into a comp; this is what makes me a professional. I remind every employer and client this whenever I get the chance, and everyone who calls themself a webdesigner just because they downloaded a copy of dreamweaver and worked out how to change a tables background colour.
n
2009-08-25 17:54:12


PS, in relation to my first post, the adage is: cheap, good, quick .... i accidentally wrote 'expensive'. That would just be silly :p
n
2009-08-25 17:55:25


IN MEXICO GRAPHIC DESIGN IS NEVER VALUED AS IT SHOULD WHAT I DO IN MY AGENCY IS SET A FIXED RATE AND DEPENDING ON MY CLIENT´S SIZE WE CAN GO UP OR DOWN A BIT, THE FIXED RATE I ESTABLISHED IT ON MY OFFICE COSTS THAT WAY I CAN HAVE AN AVERAGE OF HOW MUCH MONEY WE´RE MAKING EVERY WEEK
PABLO ROJO
2009-08-25 18:17:23


This is the most important and interesting question asked so far!
Its never an easy thing to deal with especially now, when people are tightening their budgets. I often feel like i am walking a fine line between charging a decent amount and losing future work or going cheap and guaranteeing more work in the future.
George Foote
2009-08-25 18:54:49


I note that no-one has yet told us how much they actually charge, even in the broad context of the type of work involved. Here's how I worked my costs out:

1) Look at any of the design blogs every day for one year.
2) Assemble a Top 100 list from good to not-so-good.
3) Place yourself and your portfolio in that list. Are you as good as Number one? Or are you definitely at 100?
4) If you're in the top third, begin quoting jobs at £100 per hour.
5) If you're in the middle third, begin quoting jobs at £60 per hour.
6) If you're in the bottom third, begin quoting jobs at £30 per hour.
7) Assemble the quote using experience to determine how long the job would - and should reasonably- take.
8) Double it.
9) If you yourself get butterflies with the final amount, pull it back a bit until you can look in the mirror.
10) If you then feel hard done by, remember how much the taxman will take.
11) Quote client with a straight face. Now is not the time to waiver.
12) Insist on stage payments, listing what is covered in each stage.
13) If you probably don't deserve it, you probably won't get it. Bad luck. Go back to the Top 100.

This year I have charged:
- £1200 for four typographic posters for a local company. They took me fourteen hours.
- £500 for a 24-page annual report, because I really like the client, and they normally pay well, and they're a charity, and they said I could do what I wanted with the cover, and they'd name me as a benefactor.
- Some £250 per day freelancing as I had the time.
- Some £250 per day teaching, which I love and which reminds me that talent is fucking everywhere.
- £4000 to a big ad agency for a rough idea which they wanted to develop into an ad.
- £0 for Steve Gorman Sports podcast to design a T-shirt. Took me 14 hours.
- £4500 or so for a medium-sized re-brand, including guidelines.

So you see, things change on a day-by-day basis. But ultimately, you make your own decisions. Nonetheless, I've found it crucial to know what you're worth, even if you then decide to take less. At least that way you can do more / fewer discounted jobs accordingly.
Jeeves
2009-08-25 18:59:41


Half the issue is clarity and being open and honest with clients. A client should never need ask "what does this cost involve" as the quoting process should spell it out clearly. It then allows you to keep a watchful eye on scope creep and allows you to go back to the client and discussion additional fees.

Honesty has always worked for me.

And never do any work for friends, it never pays!
Ryan Dixon
2009-08-25 19:21:32


Roger Moggs has it right, we need to make sure we think about commercial value to the client which can also be a valid reason for a difference in price between small and large clients - the work you do for a larger client will generally generate more actual revenue for them ie, if I add 10% to their revenue from an improved website then a client who has a turnover of a millon is going to generate more additonal revenue than a client with a turnover of £100K.

Another thing to consider is the amount of admin clients require. From my experience, larger corporates and public sector clients have a longer decision making process and require more servicing than smaller owner managed businesses.

Having said all of that I still get it horribly wrong occasionally! Some projects just take longer than you ever could have imagined.
Ian ODonnell
2009-08-25 20:16:23


Never mind what to charge. How do you get clients to pay their invoices on time?
Kay Koyama-Gore
2009-08-25 20:57:30


i have 2 rates. One is half the price of the other. people always ask what the difference is. I say that the half price one takes twice as long. Then we have a discussion about whether they are happy with the overall quote. if they are, the hourly rate is fairly irrelevant. Also if quoting for a whole job, give them a range (upper & lower) and make them aware that their faffing around will push it to the upper. they soon buck their ideas up if they know they can influence the cost.
steve harris
2009-08-25 21:18:41


These days I quote for a job depending on the client. I'm often approached by individuals or small companies who have limited budgets so I am always flexible. This inevitably has led to me working a lot more for a lot less, but I fear the alternative would be no work at all.

Where once I would charge £50 per hour the reality is I now charge a fraction of that.
David Hutton
2009-08-26 08:37:25


What Jeeves said. Your rates should reflect your skill and experience.

I usually charge €40 ph for jobs I really want to do because they're fun and I get to do what I want, €45 ph for returning or smaller clients and €60 ph for add agencies and big companies. This is not the highest rate. A high rate in Belgium would be €65 or €70 ph.
Not Another Graphic Designer
2009-08-26 09:47:08


I was once told that self employed 'consultants / designers' can expect to work 100 days a year (or 700 hours). So if you want to earn £30,000 a year, divide it by 100 and you have your day rate.

I think this roughly holds true.
Mark Epton
2009-08-26 09:53:42


Im a freelance graphic designer working from home. I live in the Lakes and find it very hard to get a decent hourly rate - I charge £20ph, but sometimes have to dock the final invoice just so that its acceptable to the client. New clients are always the hardest to convince it’s money well spent on promoting themselves - hard to believe in this media led world I know. But I find my regular clients are more than happy after the first job has gone through smoothly. Those that give me grief I avoid working with at all costs again, its just not worth the time and money!

I love Jeeves comments - too true!
Sarah
2009-08-26 10:55:18


I have worked out two perfect methods of charging, but they need images to help so I popped them both on my blog:



http://wp.me/pziWr-8S
Graham.Creative.
2009-08-26 13:19:00


something is missing here. where is the good old price / service?

"you want a logo/website/online campaign and i CAN provide on THIS price".

if the problem i solved was costing you $XXXXXXX , then you need to give me Y% from the savings i made for you.
mande
2009-08-27 00:07:12


we use a set price list for everyone. It's a bloody good deal for our big clients and not too frightening for the smaller clients.

we've just undertaken an exercise in how to set our pricing while pitching for a music industry job. Based on previous jobs, I wanted to charge £3500 for an album and £2000 per single, £300 for a logo re-design and £80 per press ad. The music industry is so spazzy lately, that i ran these prices past a management company and a major label product manager who both said the album & logo were too high, while logo & ads seemed ok. Soooooo, we quoted £2000 for album, £1000 per album and kept the rest the same.

The client said nice one, cheers, thanks a lot and then told us his entire campaign budget was £3k.
Gemma Mercy
2009-08-27 10:03:36


Charge whatever you want...

That's the beauty of working for yourself.

If you get the job - that's good.
If you don't - that's bad
If you really want the job - charge less
If you really can't be bothered with the charge - charge lots more
ross
2009-08-27 10:08:37


Charge whatever you want...

That's the beauty of working for yourself.

If you get the job - that's good.
If you don't - that's bad
If you really want the job - charge less
If you really can't be bothered with the charge - charge lots more
ross
2009-08-27 10:34:54


Really interesting to see the range of opinions on this old chestnut of a topic....and I would like to add this to my previous note.

The reality is that clients are paying much less for our expertise than they did 10 years ago. The whole industry has dumbed down in my opinion with smaller budgets often driving mediocrity in the quality of solution provided...I am going to generalise here but largely, clients don't really understand the value of the creative solution...be it design led or strategic/propositionally led. They like us to put a smile on their face with the original idea but don't see the value and want to pay as little as possible because their budget won't stretch to paying a commercially valued rate. The MAC has not helped the process either! At MOGGS, we still sell "scamps", "roughs" and magic marker concepts...our clients are educated (by us) as to why we do this process first...and they come to really appreciate the fact that they can focus on the raw idea rather than a pretty picture produced on a MAC. I guess this would be reagrded by some as the Old Fashioned way of producing marketing communications...but it still works and it means that we can focus the client on the value of the idea. We also work hard to put measurement in place so that we can get feedback on what has worked and the resulting improvement in the client's bottom line. It's not always easy to do this but if you're going to try and get a remuneration appropriate to the quality of your talents then you have to work on the client to get them to appreciate this cruicial factor.

We work with many designers, art directors, copywriters, photographers etc and I see lot's of portfolio's....some contain very competent and brilliantly executed work...many display quite average work. When we discuss rates I am consistently surprised at how cheaply we can buy it. I feel that in some ways the market has polarised between those people who "knock it out and get by" and those who consistently try to break new ground and produce brilliant solutions. Remember, if you're a freelancer working, for example, with a sizeable agency, they are going to mark up your day rate by a considerable factor...what does that tell you about the value of your work?

In summary: market forces drive what we can financially achieve or not and we all tend to 'bend in the wind' depending on our current circumstances...sometimes we feel bold and confident...other times we are grateful to get the work in. The critical point is that, whatever we produce, in 99.9% of cases there's a requirement for 'it' to generate revenue for the client and it's on this area that we should focus our attention in order to achieve a reasonable fee for what we do.
Roger Moggs
2009-08-28 11:24:37


Interesting comments from Mr Moggs. But your portfolio of work invalidates the majority of your points.
Luke
2009-08-28 15:02:53


@ Luke

I think that was a little unnecessary - Roger makes some excellent points. I don't think there is any need to insult his work

@Roger
Thanks very much for your contribution
CR PatrickBurgoyne
2009-08-28 15:08:01


We charge a straight £60.00 p/h - £10.00 more than the local rate but that extra budget enables us to over-deliver that bit more and produce better work! - Which of course leads to more work!
Rich
2009-08-28 16:22:26


Does anybody auction their time? I would have thought the more in demand a person became, the more they could charge for their work, fairly self explanatory and a fair way to find a level in any market.

Alexander Facey, AbmosCreative. (If they ask, I made it up).
Alexander Facey
2009-08-29 00:34:30


It's definitely hard sometimes coming up with prices, you always want the most money you think you can make out of it but at the same time the client will want the lowest amount to pay you, so there's always the question if you charged enough or if your getting low balled.
Adam
2009-08-30 17:56:40


For the right client, I'll traded Web design for cooking lessons and eyeshadow. It all comes down to how much I want or need a project, in my eyes.
Jen
2009-09-01 03:00:04


Mr moggs makes some good points. and i do like the fact that you still magic markers!
number8
2009-09-01 16:00:58


I've always had little regard for money, so regularly undercharge and undervalue my time. Since last year, freelancing has been my sole income, so I've learned to charge a bit more, out of necessity. As my experience grows, I've increased my prices bit by bit - new clients don't know the old price, and I'm still getting new business, so I'll keep pushing my prices up until I get to a natural point where I lose business because of it.
I offer a range of services, from web development & graphic design, and I'm also a professional photographer. My web/design rates are about £30ph for students/charities (I do lots of work for Cambridge University colleges, departments & societies - as an alum, I like being able to give back without ripping them off) - and then about £50ph for medium/large corporates. If it's an individual, or a small company, I'd find a figure somewhere in between. At the moment, I'm getting rather busy, so will push the price up a fair bit for any new leads - if they say yes, I earn bonus money for my overtime. If they say no, I don't have the hassle of having no free time. I still shave my final quote down if it looks too big to show the client, but that's for me to grow out of, as every time, the client is very happy with the job done, and doesn't mind paying.
For photography, weddings and headshots are the main things people pay for, and it's quite easy to get pricings from competitors - as my experience has grown and I can know produce professional results to compete, my pricing has increased accordingly. I charge an hourly rate for my time taking photos (around £75-£100ph), which takes into account my post-production time. I then charge additional fees for extra prints they want processed, or a few hundred pounds for a disc of all photos taken. Some headshot photographers charge £150-£250 for a session - I'm currently on £80 for students, and £125 for non-students for a 1 hour session, web album, and 1 processed hi-res digital file. I'll put my prices up soon, as many people tell me my prices are very reasonable.

I know people are cagey about what they actually earn, but I value honesty, so hopefully people here will appreciate seeing my figures out in the open.
www.ClaudeSchneider.com
2009-09-01 20:53:01


"Good work aint cheap, cheap work aint good."

I saw that quote on an advertisement a while ago and won't soon forget it. I like to think that any client that I work with would agree with that statement.

Mark Loundy has a great site with a series of photography business columns here: http://www.loundy.org/commoncents/

One of the items that Loundy brings up in a column is the danger of charging by the hour, or by time in general, when working on photo projects. Under this business structure, a talented photographer who can finish a job in half the time as a novice will earn therefore half as much as that novice. A posting above indicated that we should not be charging for the time it takes to complete a job, but for the years of experience that were invested in attaining the ability to do the job as well as we can.

Lastly, it's best to offer client's an estimate rather than a quote. This way, there is flexibility for you to pass on unforeseen costs to your client instead of absorbing them yourself and cutting your bottom line.

A great program for photographers to estimate their work is Fotoquote: http://www.cradocfotosoftware.com/
Another reason to consider when bidding for the best possible result is that we all want repeat clients. If a repeat client calls, they already know what to expect of your rates as you've set the standard with the first job together. Those rates ought to have been well thought-out long before a client calls a second time.
Brian J. Morowczynski
2009-09-01 22:30:42


Hi,

Im currently trying to set up as a self employed graphic designer after leaving a full time job with redundancy I re-skilled myself but the credit crunch bit and eventually needing to sign I got Job Seekers and Mortgage Interest Help, I'm now in a position to pitch for some work and whilst I know what I need to earn and what the clients budget is the work will not last very long. So i will be back down the job centre signing on, my question is what is the best way to get through these periods if you have no savings?

1. If it is a weeks work and over 16 hours I have to sign off and sign back on, which makes it almost negative earnings.

2. if it is under 16 hours I have to put it through as part time and loose a large percentage of my benefits, so that it is almost as if I'm doing a smaller job for free, whilst I under stand the exposure, I also have bills to pay. I really do want to come off benefits and go self employed.

Please don't say cash in hand...

it seems like Im in a catch 22 position but have found it too competitive in the job market and clients want everything cheaper than the next person...

Thanks
David
2009-09-04 09:38:31


Competitive advantage +/- Creative opportunity = Size of wedge
Kevin Blackburn
2009-10-03 07:35:38


Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.


http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com
davidbaer
2010-01-07 10:13:52


I realy like this quote "Good work aint cheap, cheap work aint good."
Andy
2011-05-18 21:23:29


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