Computer ArtsFeature

How much should you charge for your work?

How do you know what your work is worth? Follow Tom Lane's tips to make sure you're getting paid the right amount

1 The first thing to do is work out what your motivations are for doing the job in the first place. Remove money as a factor, then consider through the communication that you’ve had with the client so far whether it’s a job that you want to take on and how it fits in with your longer-term goals.

2 Don’t be pressurised into giving someone a price until you know what it is that you’re pricing up. If you blurt something out after a 15-minute conversation, it’s not particularly professional and you can really shoot yourself in the foot. Just thinking on it overnight can stop you undervaluing yourself.

3 Consider the size of the company – whether it’s an individual just starting up or something larger. If your artwork is going to be the first point of contact that people have with a brand, then you need to take that into consideration with the fee.

4 With illustration and lettering you really have to understand where, how and for how long it’s being used. If you draw some type for £150 but then see it splashed across adverts and magazines, you’ve potentially lost thousands of pounds. Think of the whole project and consider the benefit of you providing that service.

1hundred is a screenprinted project that Tom Lane has been working on for almost two years – it’ll launch in autumn

5 Have the day rate you want to achieve in mind, but there’s no magic formula. Even with big brands, budget can be so thinly spread across different areas of business that they won’t necessarily have all that money for the one campaign.

6 Manage people’s expectations from the beginning and give them a clear idea of what they’re getting for the price. Send an email breaking down what you’ll provide at each stage, in terms of options and rounds of amends. It’s better to have that in place than to be the Mac monkey having to change stuff on clients’ whims every five seconds and not having a leg to stand on.

7 Put a formal document together with the process of how the job is going to work, the fee and some examples of past work. Attach that to an email with a more informal tone, and then it does the stern speaking for you.

8 If a job ends up taking much longer than you thought, check what was initially agreed. You don’t have to be negative, but speak to the client and tell them what your concerns are, explain that you’re doing more than was agreed and ask what can be done about it. The creative industries are too passive about these issues. Stand up for yourself: it doesn’t have to be too bad.

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