I was recently asked by Computer Arts magazine to answer a series of short questions on pricing yourself as a designer. You can find my answers in Issue 200 of Computer Arts or below.
How should designers determine an hourly wage?
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when figuring out what your worth such as what you think you’re worth, what you can get away with, your experience, the amount of work you currently have on, how badly you want an individual project and the terms of the project, as well how long you think each project will take. There are many other factors to consider, but this is a start. See here for more info on how much to charge for design work.
What are the pros and cons of fixed pricing versus and hourly rate?
Pricing hourly has its benefits at times and you should always be flexible in which way you choose, however, I would personally recommend pricing per project as it demonstrates that you will give results, not just X number hours of work.
How can designers ensure they price competitively?
Ask your friends in the industry and also do some competitive researching. How do your competitors charge, and what do they charge? Once you know this valuable information, you will have better judgement on how to price your work, as well as how to position yourself. Learn how to negotiate budgets also.
Should designers take a lower wage for a cut of future project earnings or shares?
This should be judged on a project to project basis. Always be wary when taking on these types of partnerships as it really is a gamble. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. Be wary of people who offer this as it could be a scam and make sure you have everything in writing with a signature.
How protective of copyright and IP should a designer be?
As someone who gets notified of a copyright infringement of my work every week (yes, every week!) I will tell you that it is a lot of effort to resolve these issues. You should be protective of your work, but don’t let it bog you down. I usually send a polite email at first and in most cases, they remove the work straight away with their tail between their legs. A few times I’ve threatened with a a DMCA take down notice but fortunately, I’ve never had to go further.
On this topic, be sure to read ‘how not to write a personal biography‘.
Do you recommend a designer has a legal eagle check a contract?
At the very least you should read over anything you sign, at least once or twice. If you’re work and fees are getting high profile, then yes it may be worth getting an ‘eagle’.
Can a designer ever charge more than they originally quoted?
If a project is going out of the original scope, known as scope creep, then yes of course.
Have any other questions that you’d like my opinion on? What’s your opinion?