The Cost of Costing

To us freelancers, costing is the scariest thing.
You experience head trauma while these questions plague your brain: "What if I charge too high and lose the project to someone else?" and "What if I charge too low and end up earning a mole hill for my mountain of output?"
Unfortunately, there really isn't a standard as to how you should charge when you're an independent Creative. But you do need to charge competitively. The trick is to research, ask around, get in touch with like-minded/like-careered folks and juice their minds. After that, everything else is pretty much nego and gut feel. In other words… dude, you're on your own.

Some clients will ask for your rate card. When the initial panic dies down, give them one. A rate card marks professionalism. I have a rate card that pretty much reflects the research I mentioned up there. But like me, these costs are pretty flexible. Anything can be negotiated, anything can change --depending on so many project factors.

Since we're on the topic of research, it will do you good to research on your client, too. Typically, if it's a big client, aim high. If it's a smaller, newbie client, aim low. Reasonably on both counts, of course. Now, if it's a straight-out low-budget project, make your sleuth work tell you if this project can lead to more projects in the future. If so, then be more lenient with the numbers and treat this project as a foot-in-the-door.

YES! Us freelancers aren't money-hungry snakes in the grass after all. We do free work, too. Especially if it's for a good cause AND if it means putting your name and skills out there. Advocacies make good opportunities for your creativity and good heart to shine. So grab one, have fun, fatten up that portfolio!
Needless to say, if a certain client just wants to get a freebie for no apparent reason --then walk on, my friend. Walk on.

Now here is where feelings come in. If it's a lousy project but the client is good, a discount or a free AOB wouldn't hurt. If it's an amazing project but the client is an ass, then no. Everything gets paid in sync with the awesomeness of your performance. It all boils down to Creative-Client relationships. If it's the kind that's worth keeping, then charge in a way that would make the client believe you're worth keeping, too.
Crucial note: Perks do not mean selling yourself short. It means selling yourself right, with an extra.

Before diving into that CE document, know anything and everything about the project. If it's going to be crazy-ass work horse extensive with a deadline that's not humanly possible --then think really haaaaard if you even want to work on this. If it's going to kill you more than you usually kill yourself, call the client and courteously back away. Being freelance means being smart. Not desperate.

With that, I need to remind you that no matter how you cost, always --and I mean ALWAYS-- work with the same passion it takes when working for millions. As a freelancer, your reputation is more important than anything in the world. It's what gets you glorious word-of-mouth, future projects, and heftier pay. So do your best and cost accordingly.

Good luck!

And now I leave you to discuss this among yourself.


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