Freelance estimating pricing poll

How do you rate yourself at estimating workload?

  • Got it down to a science.
  • Probably better than average.
  • Probably average.
  • Probably worse than average.
  • I can’t do it.

0 voters

How do you rate yourself at justifying your prices to clients? Client’s usually think my prices are:

  • Better than average.
  • Expensive, but worth it.
  • Fair, and leave it at that.
  • Fair, but still haggle for less.
  • A little too expensive, but accept nonetheless.
  • Way too expensive, and often move on instead of accept.

0 voters

It would be nice to here some advice from those who have estimating down to a science.

1 Like

Estimating projects? Or estimating workload as asked?

Estimating projects is all about knowing your capabilities. It comes from experience. It also comes from having cheat sheets and a pretty well-tuned, up to date Excel workbook.

As far as estimating workload, I don’t get a lot of say over what comes in the door, but I do know, from experience, how long a project should take, even with some of the extreme caveats that can happen in the middle of one. Sure there are times when the front office accidentally overloads the schedule, or a delay on one project causes a jam later when it does free up and runs into already-scheduled projects, or the ubiquitous rush order that throws a wrench into today’s schedule. Those are why I insist on being paid hourly rather than salary and overtime over 40 hours is x1.5.

Plus, there is always the contract item that sort of states, if the project is delayed due to non-delivery of deadline items (like copy, images, proofs,) the due date moves out accordingly.

I created a detailed timesheet template in Excel, and I’m compulsive about tracking. Even when I quote flat rate on a project, I’ll still track hours so I have a record of how much time it took. That provides a pretty good reference for quoting.

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I was thinking about individual projects, but not just in terms of managing resources or time lines. I was thinking more about estimating the type of work being done, what it involves, and how long it will take to do in total man-hours, regardless of time-lines. I consider that to be estimating the workload of a project.

It’s an unfortunate fact that estimating things like the type of work to be done, what it involves and how long it will take to do in man-hours is all a function of experience. There is no magic potion.

The only bit of advice that is pretty much universal, always plan for at least one thing to go sideways.
That gets easier on a larger project. For smaller ones with fairly tight budgets, it gets a little harder. Making a $300 mistake on a $1200 job is far more devastating than a $300 mistake on a $120,000 job.

This is true.

However, the experience doesn’t have to be individualized. It’s the competitive nature of graphic designers that keeps the experience from being built upon and shared collectively. GDF is a move towards collaboration, and away from competition.

GDF may be a move toward collaboration, but in no way is it going to eliminate competition, no matter how much you want it. Competition is a part of what makes designers become better designers.

If you want the crowdsourcers to use GDF to level your playing field even more (and I mean “level” as in scorched-earth devastation) be my guest to post all of your hourly rates and expected times of completion for all phases of all projects.

The caveat still being, mileage will vary based on experience and skill level. I could tell you my “secrets” of image sourcing for instance, but unless you’ve done it more than a few times, it ain’t gonna help you and you will underprice yourself. I’m also pretty close-vested on resources. I have a lot of company time as well as personal time invested in developing my own best practices and contacts. I’m not that altruistic that I’d give away that part of what I do for free. If you wanted to hire me as a consultant…well…maybe. But it would be expensive.

Nothing will eliminate competition. But some forms of competition are healthier for the majority than the individual. Competition for attention in the market place of ideas is healthier for the majority than competition over resources and privacy or secrecy. We collectivists share ideas because we want are ideas to win more than we want our individual selves to win.

Doesn’t get more unhealthy than that … ever.

It depends on whether you are speaking for your individual self or the majority when you are evaluating health. Concern for your individual self is the opposite of altruism.


It’s also the backbone of democracy.

More like the backbone of Capitalism. Democracy has no backbone. It’s a gelatinous form that feeds on ideas more than it feeds on resources. And so does GDF.

Concern for yourself? Naw. Responsibility for yourself, surely.

But the currently prevailing mutation of Conservatism wrongly ascribes an exclusionary element to that notion which breeds disregard for the Common Good, and ultimately promotes predatory behavior.

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Dead wrong.

Individual freedom is everything. And that ‘everything’ is the freedom to sign up … or not.

GDF will always be in a state of flux … individuals coming and going.

It’s not a ‘fixed’ thing.

Freedom ≠ Democracy. Democracy ≠ Capitalism. Capitalism ≠ Freedom. Individual freedom is everything = your individual opinion. You are not free from the influences of the collective economy.

Who said GDF was a ‘fixed’ thing?

grfkdzgn, you should start threads for all the other things you want to talk about besides estimating and pricing.

I’m perfectly happy giving up what I know about print in the interests of making my life and other printers’ lives easier.

As far as how business is run? Not so easy. I’m not interested in offering a chopless crowdsurfer options to compete even more against me, or my professional design clients.

Skill and experience. It matters.
Good luck with the Collective economy. You may find it is more capitalistic than your dream.

I don’t disagree that the collective economy is capitalistic. I don’t hate capitalism. My views about capitalism are similar to HB’s. There’s healthy capitalism, and then there’s predatory capitalism. Predatory capitalism consumes its customers rather than keeps its customers consuming. Capitalism and altruism are not mutually exclusive.

PD, I appreciate the mutual exchange of ideas. I appreciate the ideas you bring to compete with on GDF’s marketplace of ideas. I know nobody is paying you $$$ to contribute. Thank you.

Here’s my best advice after a quarter of a century: don’t let clients estimate your workload for you. Estimate your own workload, and then manage your client’s expectations as much as possible before you start doing any work.

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a collectivist, but I am sympathetic to this statement.

Some people (Group 1) get ahead primarily by promoting themselves, manipulating others, ingratiating themselves to higher-ups and positioning themselves in ways to further their careers. In other words, their talents and methods lie more in their ability to manipulate the system than in the quality of their work, their actual contributions or a compelling desire to improve anything.

Others (Group 2) are more concerned with exploring ideas, building new things, making a better world or improving what came before them. These are the people who have talent, who live in a world of ideas and whose motivations are not necessarily driven by greed or advancement at the expense of others.

Members of Group 1 take more from society more than they give back. Members of Group 2 typically contributes more than they receive.

This observation isn’t an argument against capitalism. For that matter, it’s an argument for capitalism.

Members of Group 2 are often entrepreneurs who have dreams and ideas. They’re the builders and implementers of new ideas. They might not do these things with the motive of bettering society, but the things they create often end up doing exactly that.

Group 1 members are largely parasitic. They’re more concerned with status, power over others, and self-glorification than they are with creating new things or improving existing systems. Rather than bettering the world by contributing new ideas, talents and building new things, they tend to land in more bureaucratic organizations that are more concerned with maintaining the status quo than they are about innovation. It’s here where these societal parasites can manipulate the rules and play the system to their advantage.

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