Monday, December 30, 2013

Ask "Stretch" - December

2013 is coming to a fast close and what a year it has been. How strange that it seems to go be SO FAST and getting faster every year. I hope everyone has had a healthy and prosperous year. It's now time for the final "Ask 'Stretch'" of 2013! A question has come up that I get asked about all of the time. If you're a service provider, creative or otherwise, you'll probably be able to relate. Let's get to it:

1. How am I supposed to figure out how much to charge for any freelance gig? I have a prospective client that's asking and I don't know what to say. How much should I charge?

Answer: Ah, the age-old question of how much to charge for services. There are a few variables to consider for your quote:

Know what your "threshold of pain' is:
This one is critical. Every artist/service provider must know what they need to make to cover all expenses. In order to figure all this out, make a list of needs:

Monthly rent/mortgage
Utilities- water, power, gas and so on.
Phone/cell phone
Transportation- insurance (if applicable), fuel, repairs
Medical- insurance (if applicable), prescriptions, doctor visits and such
Spouse/kids/pets- (if applicable)

Work with round numbers to come up with an estimate of what all of the needed expenses total up to for a month. This becomes the monthly amount needed for your earnings and also becomes the "threshold of pain". If you earn below this figure, then you will have some bills going unpaid and needs unfulfilled.

If you're considering a salary job, then multiply this threshold of pain by 12 to get how much you would be asking for an annual salary.

If you are considering an hourly wage and you want to be a full-time designer, then take the monthly threshold of pain and divide it by typical full-time number of hours, 40. This number will give you the hourly wage you need to cover expenses. Ex: if you need to bring home $3,000 a week and are working 40 hours a week, then your rate needs to be $75 per hour. These numbers are a bit high but insert whatever values needed for your individual situation. Anything less than what you work out for your unique threshold of pain hourly/salary is unacceptable.

Know your work habits to get labor and time cost:
When you have the figure that you require for your situation, then now it comes down to being really honest with yourself with your work habits. Will you need 4 hours or 6 to do a colored character concept? Time yourself or at least take notice of the time passing when you're on any one particular job or project you're on. Knowing how long it takes you to do things helps when figuring out your quote. This gives you the "labor/time" for your quote and be sure to factor in a bit of time/budget for a few revisions. Having enough work will help you get to at least break even with your monthly threshold of pain.

These are 2 concepts are key if one is going to freelance at all, part-time or full-time. You will be able to confidently say how much and how long for any particular job a client asks about. Also, keep in mind, that one should never be afraid of this one client walking away. If your services are indeed that good, there will be a niche for you and you will be able to support yourself : )

As always, feel free to take any of what I've said or leave it all. Got a question about being creative or about the industry itself? Shoot me a message by using the "contact me" form on the right of the page. Happy new year everyone and see you all in 2014! Tune in next time for the first "Ask 'Stretch'" of the new year : )

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