ART OF: PRICE SHEETS
Last Month I wrote about self promotion and how vital it is for any freelancer to grow their business. Once the self promo piece is out, hopefully you’ll receive a phone call or an email asking about your services rates. If you don’t have a services page on your website, you should. At the very least, you should have a pdf listing your services and your rates to send to an asking client.
Hourly, Flat, or Hybrid
Charging an hourly rate seems like the easiest way to go, but I don’t suggest it for young creatives that can’t accurately estimate the time it takes them to complete a project. It’s only natural that clients will request an estimate for the job because they want to make sure they can afford your services. If you can’t accurately estimate your hours, you run the risk of pissing off your client who didn’t budget for the extra time. Along with giving an accurate estimate, you must also count your hours meticulously so that you can accurately invoice. I tried this starting out, but found that more often than not, I underestimated the time it took to finish the job and ended up eating money to appease my client.
So then I tried a flat rate approach. Which worked very well in the client’s favor, because I didn’t have a handle on how long it took me to complete a job, so when all was said and done, I’d end up working for less than minimum wage.
I learned my lesson several times over and decided to adopt the hybrid approach. Of which I discuss in pricing below.
Here’s an Example of My Price Sheet:
Or click to view: LorettaMay’s pricesheet example
Branding and Contact Info:
This should be self explanatory, but some people forget this stuff. Not only does it look professional, but it also contributes to the consistency of your brand.
Write out everything included in the package. Clarify any terms that may be confusing like “mockups” “prototypes” or “wireframes”. Put a quantity to everything. Tell them what file formats they will receive (usually I don’t promise to give the working files, but anything else is fair game). Just make sure however you format it that it is clear and easy to read.
If you have them, show examples (and captions) of the packaged items. A previous project could work great or make a dummy project. What’s important is the visual impact of seeing everything they get in one place. Sometimes it’s difficult for clients to see the value of your rate when they don’t have an exact idea of what they are getting.
So now that they’ve seen what they get, they want to know how much it costs. Because these rates are flat, you must also factor in how many edits they get for that price. Leaving the number of edits undefined will lead to certain doom. If a project requires extra rounds, I revert back to my hourly rate until the project is complete. If you prefer to put a flat rate on your extra rounds, that’s fair too. Just make sure to make it clear the infinite rounds are possible, so long as they pay extra for it. Lastly, include any other fees that may be applied: Material fees (i.e printer paper or ink), printing fees etc.
Why do we include this? Defining your rate package down to the nitty gritty actually protects both creative and client. It keeps the client honest and protects you from indecisive clients as well as scope creep.
A Note About Printing:
If you’re creating a physical product, costs of production should be noted whether or not they are included in the price. I don’t include it because the pricing will differ from project to project depending on materials needed, number of colors etc. I also don’t like to handle paying the vendors directly because it means I actually have a physical deliverable to send to the client and I’ve been told that some states require a deliverables tax as well. I admit I don’t know much about the deliverables tax because I’ve never had to deal with it myself. It’s discussed in the Graphic Artist Guild book of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. To avoid the headache, I note that printing costs are not included.
What to Charge:
Pricing is always a huge topic amongst freelancers. There have been dozens of blogs and even books dedicated to how to price out your services and which methods you could take. I’m not going to tell you what you should be charging for your services, because a ton of different factors go into rates, such as your experience level, how long it takes you to complete the project, overhead costs, and the size of the client to name a few. To read more about pricing, I suggest you buy the Graphic Artist Guild book of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. You can also use this rate calculator here, but I almost find that it really only good for people who have expenses and have been doing this a while.
Leave room for customization. Don’t broadcast that the packages are open for customization, but if you fear your client might pass because they don’t think the package fits their needs, offer to make a custom package for them with a revised quote based off their needs.
A lot of times, clients already have an idea of what your services are worth and have therefore adjusted their budgets accordingly. They may have even been tempted by the forbidden fruit of crowdsourcing sites so if they push back with “it’s too expensive”, you can offer them a payment plan, spreading out over a number of months (depending on the cost and the client’s budget). By showing your flexibility and willingness to cater to the client, they are more likely to choose you.
So that’s what I put into my price sheet. I do one of these for each of my services. When a client contacts me for work and requests a quote, I send them which ever packages seem a good fit for them. Most of my work is in the logo and identity world, so I often send the differences between logo and identity packages for them to decide between. I hope this has been helpful!
Stay tuned for the next installment: “Art of : Design Questionnaire”. What questions should you be asking to get the best out of your design brief?