Pricing Your Jobs
You look at this matrix here for a second, I know we kinda keep beating the horse, but I think it's all about massaging it to get it into the right spot. So the deadline and time will 100% affect the cost. Because if you need to hire out, or if you're staying up all night, if you're gonna stay up all night and do a 12 hour job, that costs more than I've got two months to leisurely work out this job. The rate changes. Market rate. This one is a really tough nut to nail, but we need to talk about it. What's the intrinsic value of the job that you've done? So I'm just gonna ballpark this, but it was for a while there that one sheet was $2,500. That was the value. $2,500 to produce a one sheet for a movie poster. Now, there can be outliers. If you've got a cast of 25 and explosions and buildings, well, that's gonna cost a lot more. But if it's a single head in the sky with a little scene, that's gonna cost a lot less, but the matrix you're moving around or the base normal cost is right her...
e. So whatever your industry is, y'all need to figure out what the market value of that is, aside from the time. What's the value of the product you're producing? And I can't answer that for you. You guys have to figure that out for yourself and find out. And we're gonna talk later in the presentation about organizations you can join and you can meet other folks who do what you do, or photographers or whatnot, and then you can help find areas of how you find out pricing. 'Cause you gotta ask. It's awkward as heck, but you gotta ask. On that note, I don't know a single client who doesn't have a budget for their job already. They already have something in mind. Maybe unrealistic, but there's something in their... They already got an idea, and don't be afraid to ask for that. What are y'all thinking? What's kinda your budget? And then you can work around that when you're doing your estimating. Hourly versus project-based quoting. This is really interesting. Everybody on the planet Earth who calls me for a job asks for me for my rate. I never give out my rate. I do not give out a rate. As a general rule. Not never, but I rarely do. Here is why: I'm fast, so I have a high rate. If I say a high rate, it freaks people out. "Oh, thank you. Bye bye." And I'm like, whoa, wait, it will only take me a minute to get the job done. I don't get a chance to say that because I've already scared 'em off with my rate. So we have a tendency to do project-based bidding. Send me the job, I'll bid it. I'll tell you how much that job will cost.
And in the back of your head, you know how much you wanna make per hour, but don't say those words out loud.
Yeah. It scares people.
But then, with that, that's when you take in the whole job and you know that the market value of this one sheet is gonna be $2,500, you say, "I wanna knock that out in two days." They think it's gonna take four days, but you know you can get it done in two. And that's where you balance out those three things. That you're quicker, that you've invested in your speed and efficiency, that gets you the job, and you can knock it out in less time, but don't tell 'em your rate is $500 an hour. They're gonna think four days times $500 an hour and just go, "We don't have the money," but you know that they'll pay this amount, I can get it done in this amount of time. It works for me. Don't tell 'em the breakdown.
Yeah. And it's not about withholding information. It's about giving them information in a way they can digest it. So if you took those worksheets and figured out what the job will take, time-wise, then you start calculating this stuff, and in that way, you can figure out your estimate. So one thing I wanna really remind everybody is revisions. Build in revisions. And that means I often... I don't think I can give you a generic revision, but I will say, for example, on a one sheet finish, I have built in three revisions. Three rounds of revisions in original price, and then I put a rate for how much above and beyond that would cost. So, great, three times. We can come back and forth three times. You come back the fourth time, it's X, Y an hour for those revisions, and I put that in the estimate. And that handles the issue of the mid-level art director who's nudgey, nudgey, nudgey, nudgey. That's how you handle that. Okay. Alrighty. Oh, I love this part. Alright, so let's talk about rates. Hopefully this is not too confusing, but I really feel like y'all have to have a handle. Especially even for yourself if you're hiring people and you're making decisions about what the rate difference is. So I'm gonna do a little Vanna White right now, okay? I'm gonna do show and tell. So you've got somebody who's got two years of experience and they're $40 an hour. You've got someone who's got 20 years of experience and they're $135 an hour. Now, this person, you know, can do some heavy lifting, they're pretty fast, they have an eye, they've got awards. Chances are they're gonna know more about what you need than you know what you need, because they do this a lot. This one needs a lot of direction. No idea, maybe he's pretty decent, chances are pretty slow. Two days to complete an average project, 16 hours at $40, so that's $640, okay? This person, six hours to complete the same job. At that rate that comes to $810. Still more expensive. So the rate difference is $170, but there's a couple other differences that I think clients often never consider. One, you get a day-and-a-half faster. That can be a big difference for folks. 'Cause you know, how many of y'all wait 'til the last second? You know you do. And ah, the printer is waiting. We need to get the job done. In entertainment I'm telling you this is the holy grail. Right there, the time the difference.
Makes everyone look good when stuff comes in on time or before time, so if your finisher brings in the job and you can turn it in to your client and say, "Yeah, that's handled already," everyone looks better.
But I'm gonna tell you there's one thing that most folks don't consider: the quality of the result. I assure you, someone who's got 20 years experience is gonna do a better job on most retouching jobs than someone who's only got two years experience. And, now, there are absolutely situations where the quality is not needed. Those webpage things for that furniture company? They don't need that. The quality, it's not an issue. So you wanna go this way for those jobs, and that's perfectly acceptable and appropriate. And if you wanna go up, you know, quality level, then this is what you want, and not just because the money. So many people are penny wise pound foolish. Do you know what I mean? They'll take that one. And then the piece is like, eh, that's alright. Well, you want alright for a $170 difference? I think a day-and-a-half earlier and about $200 bucks more is worth the better product.
And then if you hire Lisa and her experience, you can say, "Here's a job." She'll ask you the questions, and then she's good. Come back in that day, she'll have that thing pretty much nailed. The other guy who's just learning needs some coddling, needs some hand-holding, so you're getting one guy at $40 an hour plus you gotta put a manager on their and take their time. You need an art director to come back and do, "Hey, what do I do here? What do I do here?" So now you're pulling your art director, who's supposed to be getting paid to come up with ideas and do phone calls and such, he's gotta take time out of his day to keep track of your $40 an hour guy who you're supposed to save money on top of.
Yeah, that's a really good point. I always forget about the fee of the other person. The managing person, so, anyway. Hopefully that gives you guys a good idea about pricing and estimating. Again, there's a worksheet. You walk through it. I wish we could be more specific about how you estimate, but we don't know what your job is. So if it's a potato on a white seamless or a bunch of kids for a lifestyle shoot, that's a different estimation process, so we can't be overly specific. This is the little outlier I wanna talk about, and again, I think it's kinda sad. Designers have a different skillset. You have to be fast, you have to know a lot of tricks, you have to know where to get assets. I didn't put that on there. You have to know where to get assets if you're a designer. It's quick. It's hurry-up. I need skies. Where do you get skies? Oh, Adobe Stock. Do you know about Adobe Stock? Oh, I need a horse with a stagecoach. You need to have these resources in the back of your mind, and we're gonna talk about resources later. Bags of tricks. Those are what I call the bags of tricks. So you know where to get your stuff. And you have to be fast, and you have to come up with ideas, and you make at least half of what we make, if not less. Maybe just under half. It's kinda sad. But you get to be creative. I'm a gun for hire. So I don't look at a movie poster that I've worked on and go, "I did that." I go, "Oh, I worked on that," but I don't feel like I did that. These folks get to own it. It's theirs. So you need to figure out what's important to you. Now, I hope this is not too esoteric. Folks in this arena can move into the arena of creative director and then they make way more money than I make. But there's not that many people who make that jump. So your fee or your salary or your income is gonna be around here for designer. For a retoucher or finisher, you're up here. I'm doing circles. And then if you're a creative director, you're up here, but are you gonna be able to get from there to here? Those are decisions. I very consciously went from being a designer to a finisher. Very consciously, because I wanted more money, and on an emotional level, when the folks make these, ah, it's theirs, it's their baby, and it gets kicked around and told that it's crap, it's a little painful. Me. I have a very thin skin.
I asked you this yesterday when you told me, I was like, "That almost happened exactly to me." I did some design, but what I didn't like was I did good work, three comps a day, and then for that just to die on the vine, I took a little too personal. I didn't have the personality traits to put up with that. I like for my work to have value and be appreciated, and every time I finish something, it gets used. And that's important to me.
That's a really good point, yeah.