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  • estimate and quote timing for clients

    I have recently started doing freelance design work, and am having problems estimating how long it will take me to complete projects. I know I'd like to make around $30 an hour - but I do not know how to give my clients an accurate quote.

    0. beyond not knowing how long it will take me to do something now - is there any other way to figure out a ballpark time besides just doing a bunch of work, timing how long it takes, and keeping track of times so I can later create average times for certain types of prjects. I know this will work, but it requires me to make arbitrary guesses for the first 5-10 clients. Yikes!

    1. Are there any generally accepted times among the design community for given project types (i.e. around 10 hours to do a logo design)...

    2. Are there any techniques I can use to better estimate how long it will take me to do something?

    3. should I ask the client how much is in their budget to allocate for a project?

    4. any tricks you veterans have about such topics - or related topics?

    5. how do you keep track of your timing on projects (pen/paper, special software, stopwatch....)

  • #2
    Start with a GAG handbook until you get a feel for what it takes you.

    Comment


    • #3
      When I started freelancing, I gave estimates by the hour. And I would use an estimate on how much the hardest design would take (taking into account gathering the artwork, finding fonts, etc.), then go by that on every estimate. I also had a disclaimer that noted the estimate was just that: an estimate. And the estimate could be off by + or - 3 hours. This gave me plenty of wiggle room, and I almost always finished at the estimated time OR earlier, in which the client got the break in price.

      Eventually, I switched to charging "by the piece." I sat down and met with the client, and here's how that went (say they wanted a business card design):

      Full color design or standard "corporate" style?
      1 sided or 2 sided?
      Client supplies pictures or does designer provide?
      Client need editable artwork files when finished?
      Are headshots going to be cropped out of background?
      Is the logo provided in vector format?
      Will logo need to be recreated?
      Does client need a new logo designed?


      Those kinds of questions are key in figuring out what to charge. I have a base price for each one of them, and it's kind of a "pick and choose" kind of deal. If they can find someone who will crop out their image for less than I charge, I won't charge them for that item.

      Now, to answer your questions:

      0. You should know about how long it takes you to design something. What you can do is instead of using real world clients, make up some clients and design for them. This will help you get a better understanding of time and won't hurt your pocketbook.

      1. I don't think there are set times...it all depends on the designer/criteria.

      2. I tend to over-estimate. that way, when/if I come in UNDER time, the client is happy. But I rarely go over time, because I over-estimate.

      3. I would never ask the client this. That's like saying, "How much do you want to pay me for designing this." I feel that this kind of paints you into a corner, because if they say "$x" dollars and you were thinking more than that, but not much, you will either lower you price to get the job, or lose the job. On the other hand, if you just state your price, the decision is in their ballpark to either raise their budget or go with someone else. Bottom line is, put value on your services, and if they don't want to pay that, then, trust me, you don't want their business.

      4. See my stuff above.

      5. I used my clock to track the times.

      Hope this helps.
      WordPress Designer and theme developer. KlongDesigns - helping bloggers and non-technical folks claim their space on the internet.

      Comment


      • #4
        0. You should know about how long it takes you to design something. What you can do is instead of using real world clients, make up some clients and design for them. This will help you get a better understanding of time and won't hurt your pocketbook.
        Timing a job based on fictional client work can be problamatic because fictional clients don't muck around! Fictional clients aren't late on getting images/text to you and they don't get you to move things around according to their odd ideas of graphic design....
        It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh

        Comment


        • #5
          You are right. But there is nothing you can do that will account for the "real" clients. I mean, I've had clients who have been "spot on" with everything, meeting every deadline I've put to them. Then I've had others who dragged their feet, made umpteen changes, and still wanted to meet the deadline. I was more speaking of the "get an idea of how long it takes you to do the job", assuming you had everything you needed and the client wasn't a PITA.

          Those cases where the client is a PITA, I've always had to go back and discuss with them the extra charges. I don't know of a way to factor in a "problematic" price to handle those types of customers, before I deal with them.

          Well, I guess I go to point 2: I OVER-Estimate. If I know how long it should take me to do a job, I over-estimate to account for the late files, triple changes, etc.
          WordPress Designer and theme developer. KlongDesigns - helping bloggers and non-technical folks claim their space on the internet.

          Comment


          • #6
            ....overestimate can make your clients go elsewhere

            Can't win!
            It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh

            Comment


            • #7
              We finally gave up on "winning" every project. We price a job where we think it should be priced, and sometimes there is a PITA factor built in for some clients. If we get it - fine. If not, I do not intend to lose money on the project, especially for the PITA clients. Now, if they are a good client, I will sometimes take a beating to help them out.

              Learning: Being a PITA doesn't save you money.

              Six

              PS - Elsewhere on this forum I offered a free Excel spreadsheet estimator based the one we have used here at SPAR for years. If you want a copy just email me through the forum of go to the contact page on my web site (Six = boss). There are now two versions. One is just an estimator and the second has an "actual" column to enter your actual time and expenses on a project. You will need MS Excel to run it.
              http://www.graphicdesignforum.com/fo...ad.php?t=27487
              Is it art? Is it a business? It is both! www.sparadvertising.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by budafist
                ....overestimate can make your clients go elsewhere

                Can't win!
                You're right. underestimate can make you lose money. estimating exactly is an oxymoron, because if you estimate exactly, it's no longer an estimation, is it? So the two choices are underestimate and lose your valuable time and money, or overestimate and maybe lose a PITA client. You've gotta ask yourself, which is more important, your time or getting as many clients as you can, no matter the cost?
                WordPress Designer and theme developer. KlongDesigns - helping bloggers and non-technical folks claim their space on the internet.

                Comment


                • #9
                  It WILL ake time for you to get a feel for the amount of time to complete projects. That is the "art" part of design.

                  One thing that helped me initially was to get some type of "time spent on actual project" software. (I used TimeCache) Just start the clock when you work on different facets of the project and stop the clock when you are done. Simple.

                  It was REALLY eye-opening for me to realize exactly how much time I was spending on projects.

                  Another point: ALWAYS find out your budget up front. Why waste your time with a project when someones quotes $50 for a logo. Just move on.

                  Finally, go to companies with budgets and spending money for design. The tiny projects will just kill your bottom line and your passion.

                  Doug

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I've been designing full-time and in a freelance capacity for over 20 years.The best advice I can give you about your pricing is know your value, have a contract, don't be afraid to walk away, and don't do spec. Regarding contracts, break payments up into milestones and make sure you get paid the first milestone up front, have a "kill fee" in your contract that states if either party decides to part ways, you still get paid something, and bill per project (it's easier). There are several other things you'll want to do to cover your assets, but understanding who you're dealing with, what type of client they are (mom & pop store vs. giant corp.), and knowing their budget will help you better get a handle on what the appropriate amount would be. Also have a "design" rate, and a "production" rate. Design rate is for high-concept brainstorming, sketching, etc..Production is doing something more mundane like laying out newspaper copy or maintaining a blog.

                    Pricing has been on my mind a lot lately. I actually created a little app called Quote Roper that helps freelancers and people that do creative services pricing to create estimates quickly and easily. If anyone is interested in being part of the Beta, I still have a few spots open. Feel free to email me your address (howdy@quoteroper.com) and I'll get you on the list. I'd love to get some feedback on the usability and functionality.

                    Oh and BTW, it's iOS only for now....But we're all designers here, right? Then I'm sure everyone already has an iPhone ;-)
                    Last edited by KitchWitch; 02-19-2016, 08:40 AM. Reason: removed ad link

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Arezendes and welcome to GDF.

                      We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
                      Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Zombie Thread!!!
                        Pulling up a 10 year old thread to do advertising for a phone app no less...

                        estimating software... one size does not fit all.
                        Last edited by PrintDriver; 02-19-2016, 10:04 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by arezendes View Post
                          ...But we're all designers here, right? Then I'm sure everyone already has an iPhone ;-)
                          Don't count on it. Some people despise Apple and its products. (Yes, I am their self-appointed representative.)

                          If that Is part of the mindset which drives your business decisions you may need an adjustment.

                          Coming to you from sunny America, where freedom, solvency, and now the presidency,
                          are all unsurreptitiously counterfeited for your entertainment.

                          Comment


                          • kemingMatters
                            kemingMatters commented
                            Editing a comment
                            iOS makes me sad

                            but to be more relevant, so does this attempt at social media marketing

                          • MumboJum73
                            MumboJum73 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I'm a gonna hop on this wagon here. I'm still sick from Apples being shoved down my throat in school.

                        • #14
                          Eek! Sorry to offend guys. Living up to my newb status, that's for sure.
                          My bad for not reading the rules. KitchWitch, I appreciate the links. Had a chance to review them and realized a bit too late. Thanks for taking care of it for me. I was just about to go in and edit/remove the link myself. What's really funny is I didn't even look at the original date of that post. I found this site on a "Top 10 Forums for Designers" post and started perusing the content without even a glance at the date. Who would've thunk they'd be responding to a thread almost nine years old!

                          Yeah, I have a love/hate relationship with Apple myself however I respect the hell out of them for not bowing down to the FBI in unlocking personal phones...My design/dev set up is a mixed Mac/PC environment where most of my creative design is done on my Mac, while my business writing/proposals/accounting is done on my PC. Seems to work out okay...

                          Back to this thread, probably not worth dredging up old post topic unless folks want to talk about it. Anyone interested in diving deep into any of @Shlomo's questions?

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            I've used Macs since the mid-70s. Love em. The iPhone however is work-issued. It makes my nights and weekends miserable sometimes. I would not have one otherwise. I haven't seen the software yet that could handle what we quote. LOL. Couldn't even build one in Filemaker myself and I'm pretty good at Filemaker databases. Too many variables.

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