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Fees & Negotiation

Lesson 7 from: FAST CLASS: Working Successfully with Clients: A Class for Illustrators and Designers

Lisa Congdon

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Lesson Info

7. Fees & Negotiation

Lesson Info

Fees & Negotiation

negotiating fees. This is where things get interesting. Okay, a few things about fees, jobs are typically paid in flat fear royalties and not by the hour, except if you're doing maintenance work. This will sometimes different for designers, but generally speaking in the world of illustration and design, if you're taking a job with a corporate client or a business for a job, they want to pay you in a flat fee or royalties for the sales of something. I've done hourly work, but it's usually after and I think it's more typically if you're a designer may be designing a website, right? And you have to do maintenance after the thing launches and you go in and make updates and you make things. I mean a lot of times that's what the developer does, but sometimes there's design work that needs to be done and sometimes that's paid in hourly rates. But typically these jobs are paid and flat fees. Another thing to understand is that industry standards for fees vary between segments of the industry. ...

So, um, you could do the same exact piece of art or take the same exact photograph or make the same exact design For one segment of the industry and be paid $300 or $500 and you could make the same exact piece of art, the same exact designer, take the same photograph and be paid tens of thousands of dollars more. So there is very little correlation between the complexity of your work, the quality of your work. Um the amazing nous of your work and how much you paid, how much you're paid is really determined by what segment of the industry you're working in publishing books, magazines, online publications tend to have lower budgets and are sort of unfortunately, and I think even people inside of the industry don't like this about it either. They want to be able to pay artists more. It's not because they're cheap, it's just because less money goes into publishing. You really want to work hard to build your community of mentors and colleagues that you can consult around fees. Because over and over again in your career, you are going to get curveballs from people asking you to quote fees or um offering you a fee for a job and you're going to have no idea if it's fair. Another great resource. I highly recommend everyone gets this book or downloads it. Their graphic artists guild, handbook to pricing and ethical guidelines. It's a fantastic resource. This is the website address. It gets updated every few years. But you opened that book and they cover contracts too. And other sort of like ethical issues. But one of the things I love about it the most and I use it for the most is to determine a range for what I should be paid for something. So, they have categories of different segments of the industry, from like album cover art, to book covers, to, oh gosh, you name it licensing betting and all kinds of things. And um they'll give you a range for what you should be paid and then you have to sort of place yourself inside of that range. Okay, so getting to your bottom line is really important. Your bottom line is essentially, I mean obviously your goal is to get top dollar for whatever work you're doing right? Ultimately that's your goal. But at minimum you want to know what's the least I will take for this job. You don't tell the client that you just have it in your head. What's my bottom line? What's the lowest I will go and still take the job. Okay. And that will be important in negotiating fees. However, still important to do research. Like is this a good feed because sometimes you'll get offered a fee but you still don't know it's any good. Don't take anything at face value. Even if it sounds really exciting. Oh my God, they're willing to pay me $2500 for this thing. Like still good to ask and consult. Go to the graphic artists guild handbook, cultivate a group of experienced people. You can consult, negotiate if you learn the fee is low negotiating most of the time means asking for more money and I'll give you an example of what that could look like in a second. But negotiating can also mean working within their parameters. So if they've let you know that the fee is not negotiable and oftentimes they will you, but you still feel like you want to try to make something work. One thing I learned from my agent back when I had an agent was that you can um ask for other adjustments to make the lower pay or work for you. So maybe it's not quite the money you were hoping for. It doesn't seem fair, but the timeline is really tight. You can ask like, I'm happy to do it for that fee, but can we extend the timeline by two weeks? Because that's obviously gonna be less stressful for you will make the lower paid maybe more worthwhile. You can also ask for product samples or to have them throw in things in the contract to compensate for the lower pay, especially if it's a company that makes something that you might want to have some of um, reducing the number of delivery bills for the fee. So if it's a lot of work for a certain amount of money, you can always say, well, I'm happy to do Two illustrations for that fee instead of five, something like that. The budget budget is inflexible, simply ask, how can we make this work in your budget. I really want to work with you. Okay. It's okay to negotiate. Okay. If a fee for a job feels too low, trust your judgment, even if it might be the industry standard. But to you, it's like ridiculously low because believe me, a lot of things that are normal in the industry or in an industry for how much an artist is paid feel ridiculously low and it's okay to be upset about that and it's okay not to take a job even if it's normal for what artists get paid. You are the boss of your business. You get to decide low fees affect every artist in the industry. So when you um take a job for free or you know, you are working for pennies or agreeing to take low fees, it's not just affecting you negatively. It's setting a precedent that is not okay to compensate artists for their skill and talent. Okay. All right. We're going to talk now about the second more stressful scenario when the client asks you to quote a fee, everybody's giggling because the anxiety level rises because this is the most stressful situation. I know, I mean, I've been doing this work for a long time and I have worked with over 75 clients and I have a lot of experience and I still get an anxiety attack when I get an email from a potential client who wants me to tell them how much I want to be paid. And in some cases I know and I'm confident, but in other cases I'm not. And so I have to go through this too and you it's sort of normal for everybody, no matter how long you've been doing this because we're worried we're gonna be asking for too much, right? And they're gonna be like uh huh you're crazy or we're worried we're not gonna ask for enough and we're gonna under sell, right? So Client asked you to name your price, here's my favorite strategy. It works for me about 60% of the time. I encourage you to use it. Just simply ask them, what's your budget or as for a fee, I'm flexible, what's your budget? So I can't get the client to name their fee through those strategies. Again, you want to go to the graphic artists guild handbook and ask someone in your trusted network of friends and ultimately you want to trust your own judgment about what feels right to you. So one of one rule of thumb I have um about fees is what is this job worth to me? How much do I feel like I want to be paid to walk away at the end of the day and feel good because you know when jobs when when assignments get hard because you're working your butt off um and you're kind of maybe even feeling a little resentful if you can at least say to yourself, oh This sucks right now because it's 11:00 at night and I'm still working on this thing and I'm on my third round of changes but in a few weeks I'm going to get a check for five grand, you know? And then you're like okay I can sleep tonight. But if you accept an assignment and you're not being paid for that, those extra hours, you're putting in all that effort, then you're gonna feel resentful at the end of the day. So ultimately, you know, you and you alone get to decide what is your bottom line, what is this job worth to me?

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