🔴 Freelance & Business

Recommended Readings

Item

Links

Documentation / Tutorials

  • The Futur by Chris Do

Industry / Case-studies

Books

Books (value-pricing payment)

  • Alan Weiss - Value- based fees

Tools

Keywords

  • positioning

  • communication , boundaries, expectations

  • value-oriented, ego aesthetic making

  • KPI

FAQs

  • What if your first freelance job pays low but you are just starting out. If you do your due diligence, you have the design chops and know how to speak to clients, you can negotiate for a higher rate. If not, walk away and go find your own clients.

Data data data — Self assessment and information curation

Have a spreadsheet with your:

  • Overheads, expenses

  • Contacts and bookings

  • Projected earnings

Pricing: Breaking even

Cost of living calculator

Putting a price to your the work is never easy especially when you are starting out. You may feel that you are overpricing or under-pricing the work you give. The simple solution to this problem is: basic arithmetic! Let's use the power of mathematics to calculate how much you should be charging per hour.

Let's take the scenario that you are working as a freelancer, and you need to make enough to cover your basic expenses for each month. After which, add 20% of that as profit, and you will have what you need to make each month. Divide that by your working hours, and you have your freelancer rate.

(Expenses+Profit)/workinghours=rate(Expenses +Profit)/working hours=rate
- rent
- utitlies / bills
- workstation / computer / tools
- software that you used
- overheads (vimeo
- tax
* Use a spreadsheet to calculate all these

General

  • Design shouldn't be a surprise, do not spontaneously show client designs after few weeks. Keep the client in loop with throughout the whole process. Design then, is a conversation / service.

  • There is a difference between a business owner and an artist, which one are you?

  • I think the hardest thing in freelance or in business is to say "no" and kill the project in collected unattached professional manner. As such, we end up working with clients with toxic behaviors and bad experiences.

  • Charge $50+ an hour for freelance work, since I’m covering my time, equipment, expenses, and insurance for myself. Note that freelance work is considered a business and is taxed so you’ll want to be setting aside money to cover that when tax season rolls around.If there’s jobs you’re not excited about or don’t really want to do, give them a higher number to make it worth it for you. And the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard is that you should get something besides just money from every job- new contacts, new learning, new plugins, etc.

  • Salvador: 350 sounds reasonable but perhaps just slightly above the “average” starting rate.

  • Crosby Ignasher: My first rate starting freelance in NY was 300 a day. That was after a year at an ad agency where i was making 50k. (2016-2017). I slowly increased my rate 50-100 a year topped out at 500-600 a day this year. When working with clients unless its been discussed I usually include a separate weekend rate, kill fee, and OT that is confirmed with the client before the booking proceeds. Tagged on an email that looks something like thing. I sometimes got away from including OT because it can drive clients away but good to be aware of so you are not screwed on your time.

    Day Rate: 500 / Day

    Weekend Rate: 800 / Day

    OT: 50/ per hour after a 10 hour day.

    Kill Fee: 50% day rate per remaining days booked.

Getting into freelance

  • Definition: independent contractor, work for hire, temp, gig worker, contract employee, 1099 employee > you are a business owner.

  • Do not receive

    • insurance

    • retirement plan

    • paid vacation days, sick leaves, time off

Invoicing

Tips

  • Clients want to follow the money, and see where it goes. Your invoice should have detailed breakdown of your process from ideation to rendering. For each item, state the number of hours you spent and the cost.

  • Your invoice may state your full-rate, but you can put discounts to show generosity when working on your first few-gigs or for friends.

Protecting yourself from...

Not getting paid

  • 50% upfront payment to start the project, and the other 50% upon completion and delivery

  • When you deliver your final cut before your final payment; put a watermark / audiomark / give a lower resolution render

Miscommunication & minsti

  • At the beginning, communicate to the client about fees, payments, *project files

  • Better yet, have an on-boarding clients FAQ PDF

Client on-boarding FAQ

How clients get the best out of working with Motion Designers

  • Deliverables & deadlines

  • Fees

    • project / service

    • kill fee

  • Change orders

  • Payment

  • Communication

  • Revisions

  • Giving feedback & mutual agreement

  • Discovering our client

    • Is this your first time working with motion design? Do you have any past experience with working with motion designers?

    • What are you unsure about right now about the process?

  • Discovering the brief

    • What do you expect of getting this video.

    • How's this going to help your business,

    • and where are you going to put this animation, social media, broadcast, presentations, pitch

Project: animated illustrations

Questions

  • For the PSD,

    • are the elements separated into layers,

    • able to provide redrawn assets? eg. eyelids, hair

    • Is the shoulder covered by the hair painted?

    • is the original artwork extend beyond the crop area?

  • What platforms do you plan to use these graphics, and do you need different aspect ratios for each

  • Others:

    • When you say that you want strands animated, do you also mean the locks of hair as well?

    • How soon do you need this?

Horror stories

Do you know what Glock is? — 17 July 2020

17 July 2020 around 9.15am: The gun threat

One morning, I got a sudden phone call from a client whom my team and I worked with a month ago. Even though the money was good, he was full of red flags (see table below), and we should have trusted our gut in not taking on the project. We had produced a 90s explainer animation for his business, and we thought he was satisfied. We moved on with our lives and were relieved to have him out of our hair. He later told us that he wanted project files.

The call began with the client accusing my team of charging too much for our project files, claiming we were a fraud and how he spoke to his attorney. It was uncanny, unsettling, and shocking. I did not think that someone would actually do that. It's not like we have bad blood or anything. We deliver the animation as he requested previously and appeared satisfied. We have not shown resistance and contempt towards him during production but rather we were understanding and compromise for whatever he wants exactly.

Midway in the conversation, he asked me if I knew what a Glock was, how it looked it, and how I would like to see it. He threatened to come to my house with a gun at noon if I do not give him the project files by then. He also complained about how he was going to spend $5000 to redo the project; to which I asked why he was doing that and was he not satisfied with our work. He did not answer my question and I asked why don't you think the work files was worth what it should be and how much you was willing to pay.

I quickly called my team to tell about the situation. We were so fatigued with dealing with this client that we were okay with giving away the project files for free as long as the client signs the contract that he will not be able to sue us after he received the files.

22 July: Signing the release form

Before we send him the project files, we need him to sign a release but the client was still being difficult. He asked if I can send it through the paid app DocuSigno he can sign it without printing it and scanning it back in. We replied that eh can addd a digital signature from the PDF to which we do not hear back. We had to followup with this matter, and he brought up how he signed it on DocuSign, and pressed us to send the file.

Ending thoughts : Going back to phone call, he could have asked why the fee was so high, negotiate to reduce the price, or bring up the terms in contract in collected polite manner. I would have no problem reducing the fee but to straight up demand for something like a thug. It was hypocritical that his business mission was to better the world but it does not correlate with how he treat people.

Red flags

Should have done / Thoughts

Wrong expectations / was not established - Client wanted animation (heavy character animation) instead of motion design.

Sound off to our agency as early possible & kill the project: "This is not what thought we were going to do. We are not a good fit for what the client is looking for"

Client was not clear on the duration — we were approached to do 60s of animation and we thought that was agreed.

Agency monitoring our schedule

Our agency instructed us to use Zoho to manage the project so they can review what our production plan is but the application UX was terrible and hinder creativity; Google Sheets sufficed for my team.

We were not given much creative input and not respected as experts in designs and visual consultants — he just wanted us to fulfill his vision and ego.

We could better use the time to work for more agreeable clients.

Client is unagreeable, adamant, arrogant, rude, aggressive — Client did not take our script revision notes or listened to our concerns about condensing the duration and recommended visuals. Instead he was aggressive in defending his script

Client is a "creative" but do not have formal training — would ask us to make these classic film easter eggs in the animation eg. The Shining Hallway, Cheshire Cat, Looney Tunes thermometer,

Client does not know boundaries. Despite being done with the project, he still treated us like his workers. He would tell us to send whatever files he wanted to the production company he was working with.

Client was irresponsive — Once or twice, he needs to be prompted for a response to our email. He did not read his email or only review our content during weekly meetings.

Client disregard copyright laws — by telling us to copy existing media that he likes

Gun threat / violence

Phone call should have been recorded to document his threat and use against in court or police report.

Takeways

  • Pricing skills got better - what was a $500 project became $5850

  • Clients need to be educated from the start about fees and expectations

  • If you want to be a freelancer, do invest in a lawyer and a bullet-proof contract

  • If you end up in such a situation, be sure

Extended saga

Unsorted notes

  • On presenting incomplete work > cancel the meeting > Push the meeting: "We have been working on it non-stop and it is not meeting my standards and i hate to do this but I think it would be a deserve to present works that we don not believe. Give me 24 hours so I can this thing right."

  • Pricing / bidding - We underbid because we offered an individual artist hourly rate instead of a shop rate. Our hourly rate should be charging $50 an hour. We did not kill the offer at an earlier stage We shoul have offer a flat project rate. Low day rate for project management. -

Kristinka's wisdom [1][2]

Rule #1: Always sign contracts. In 2015 (so I was 2 months of working as a full time freelancer), I found clients that wanted a package design for their online store. When I submitted the final design, they asked for a few adjustments. I did what they wanted me to do, and then they requested another revision. It kept going for an entire month, they received 34 different package designs from me. Throughout the project they demanded more extra work, growing progressively impatient, disrespecting my time and work. Since we did not sign a contract, I told them that our partnership was over. So they never paid me and we all moved on with our lives. Rule #2: If someone you know commissions work, treat them as if they have no emotional connection to you. Another time, in 2018, I was a single lady with an escalating obsession for Tinder. I went on a coffee date with a very charming fellow. I mentioned to him that I go to SCAD, and freelance during my time off. He then commissioned a painting. Since I knew him, I thought it would not be necessary to make him sign anything. Two days later, He received a final design and loved everything. He scheduled to pick it up next week and then he postponed. He kept rescheduling the pickup date until we stopped talking. Rule #3: Accept beforehand commission (30%-50% of the final price). During new year eve of 2019, I had a logo commission. The client loved preliminary sketches, agreed to all of my conditions, and promised to send the upfront payment soon. I put all of the eggs in one basket of trust, and designed a logo for him before I got my deposit. I told him that I will send it to him as soon as he pays the upfront commission AND signs my contract. So he said that he will. Three days later he dropped his startup company and bailed on me. If you would like to get more guidelines on how to create a good contract for a freelance, comment below and I will make my next post about it.

◼️As a freelancer, you ultimately learn that signing contracts before you start the creative process is important. In my previous post, I talked about 3 golden rules that the contract should be based on. Now, I’d like to give guidelines for creating a professional contract. (They’re in order)

◼️Establish who you are working with. Introduce yourself. Make sure the clients know they are signing an agreement, herebly specify the date of the signing, your name and the clients name.

◼️Give details of the commission Specify facts such as type of work, dimensions, dpi, total running time, other things that are relatable to your work.

◼️Give facts about your work ethic Tell them, in a bullet point list, how you work. You take upfront commission? Specify how much. Do you take weekends off? Do you charge them extra for materials or programs? You get the idea. Describe your work process. Oh, and always give them 3 preliminary sketches before accepting the first payment.

◼️Establish a workable timeframe Always give yourself two extra weeks before you’d think this project will be done. You look professional if you hand things prior to the deadline. However, specify that the client shall give you a workable timeframe to work on revisions.

◼️Allow a limited number of revisions. Some clients can endlessly demand things. After you deliver the first draft, allow 2-3 revisions for free, and make additional adjustments for extra cash.

◼️Grant of rights. Typically, you would want exclusive rights (only clients can use artwork) for logos, ads, merch, package designs. However, when you createcredited work, you seek non-exclusive rights. That gives you freedom to re-sell your own art. (Some clients wouldn’t want non-exclusive artwork and it’s ok).

◼️Additional usage of work. If your art is used for publishing and advertising, exceeding original purposes of art, don’t be afraid to ask for sales revenue.

◼️Cancelation policy. To avoid complications due to cancelation, write down how many percent they will be paying if the commission is unfinished and canceled. and how much they will pay if the commission Is finished and canceleled.

Anderson Almeida list of questions

Purpose of the video:

  • What is the goal of the video

  • Who is the target audience?

  • What are my key messages?

  • What emotion are we trying to evoke?

  • What challenges do viewers face?

  • What are the actions you want the viewer to take after watching this video?

  • How will you measure if the video was successful?

Concept:

  • Is the video part of an on-going campaign or a stand-alone piece?

  • Are there branding designs already stablished for this video?

  • What specific visuals should be captured?

  • Are there examples you’ve seen that help describe what you want?

Point of Contact:

  • Who is the ultimate client for this video project?

  • Who will be my POC for modifications/revisions/approvals?

  • Who needs to approve the final video?

  • Will I communicate with the client or go through the POC?

Budget and Time:

  • What is the project budget?

  • What percent of the budget are for video shooting/graphics and animation/editing/filling?

  • Is there a length range you prefer this video to be?

  • What is your ideal start date?

  • When would you like to see a first draft?

  • What date do you expect the final video?

Logistics:

  • Will there be a script? If so, who is responsible for it?

  • are there music or voice over talent already chosen for this video?

  • What is the resolution and aspect ratio? (16:9, 1080, 2k, 4k, others?)

  • What is the final output? (Digital file, Film, DVD?

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