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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

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