ADVICE / 10
you wanna know what is really difficult about freelance? maybe even one of the hardest parts, actually. deciding what the heck to charge your clients. you have to go down this path of “what am i worth?” or “what’s the magic number?” well, here’s how we do it. hopefully this helps a little!
someone i follow on twitter quoted someone else from a presentation at alt summit that said something along the lines of “if your fee doesn’t make your stomach flip, you’re not charging enough”. it’s one of the things i think about when figuring out that special number. it took me about a year of trial and error to figure out how to quote an estimate on a project or decide on an hourly rate. part of it was learning how long it would take me to accomplish things and learning what the expectations of clients were.
base your pricing on what it costs you to live. tally up your monthly expenses + more for savings and adventures. divide it down until you figure out your hourly rate. joy cho’s book creative inc. has a great chapter on figuring out how to do that. you could also increase that rate based on your talent and experience. find a number that feels right and makes you happy. that is so important because if you’re unhappy with the rate or quote you just gave a client, you will resent the project, not want to work on it and be miserable. your rate can change case by case. you don’t have to stick with something if it isn’t working for you. there are also certain clients that already have a set budget. you can choose to work within that budget or move on. figure out what works for you.
and then there is the other area of charging for licensing and rights managing. this part makes my head spin, so i’m going to direct you to jessica hische’s article about that. good luck.
getting paid. it should be the fun part! but a lot of the times it can be a headache. you want to give people deals in exchange for “exposure” and pretty soon you have done a ton of free work and can’t pay the electric bill. so you have to figure out a balance. (and believe me, i still do free work if i think it’s a good opportunity. don’t get me wrong) the first logo I ever designed, i did for around 100 bucks. and it was for my dad. and he had this idea for his construction project: “bri, can you make me a logo of an anaconda snake wearing a hard hat?”…let’s just say that was a very painful 100 dollars.
i wish i had a price sheet to refer to every time i start with a new client, but more goes into it than that. i don’t believe that design is so clear. let’s be honest, some people are much easier to work with than others. if i am going to design a website for my mutual friend who i know has great taste and a similar aesthetic, than I can assume this project will take me less time than average, which could mean a lower price. (be careful, this can also backfire!) and knowing how long a project is going to take you only comes from doing a lot of projects. so trust me, that part will get easier.
and i totally agree with the quote katie referred to up there. sometimes I send out a quote for a project and i feel all nervous inside, thinking to myself “oh man, they are NOT going to agree to this number.” but more times than not, they do. clients appreciate artists who know their worth. and you have to be confident that you are going to provide that client with something that is going to change their brand for the better! and that is worth a lot.
i wish i could give you a number chart. but i really can’t. maybe try this…design a logo for $350. the next logo you design, charge $700. and so on…until you feel completely satisfied with the number. like i said, i did my first logo for 100 bucks. eight years later, i charge anywhere from $2500-$5000 depending on the company. it’s always going to feel a little like a guessing game.
oh! and make sure to charge a little extra for project management. you would be shocked how many emails go back and forth when you are designing a website or a brand package. and that takes a lot of time. pad it a little so you don’t lose your mind.