Freelance Design

Discussion in 'Small Business Helper' started by SD_Ryoko, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. SD_Ryoko

    SD_Ryoko <img src="\usflag.gif" align="left"/>&nbsp; Admini Staff Member

    +81 / 0 / -0
    I know I'm not really a small business, but I would apreciate any comments or advice you might have.

    I've had a lot of offers from our teams advertisement to do other peoples web sites.

    If course, if I was to do something like that, I would want to charge them.

    But I don't know if I should charge them a flat rate, or hourly. I am also not sure how much a web designer makes now a days. I know other countries do web work dirt cheap.

    Would I need to draw up any contracts with a potential client? Do I have to claim work done as income, or does that depend on the ammounts we are talking about? What would be the best way to bill a client? What if a customer doesn't like my work?

    Would it be a good idea to come up with a company name for myself?

    I was thinking that if I wanted to do it, I should draw up a basic battle plan for myself first, but I am not sure where to start, really.
  2. tsbhelper

    tsbhelper Small Business Helper Forum Moderator

    +5 / 0 / -0
    Hi SD_Ryoko,

    Sorry for not answering sooner. DSL has been down since yesterday morning, just came back online now.

    Answers to your questions...

    Flat rate or hourly? If you bill hourly the customer will still want an estimate of how much the total bill will be, and if you do it for about that much, then you will be doing the same thing as quoting by the job. Billing more hours than the estimate will make the customer unhappy. I have always quoted an hourly rate, gave a very accurate estimate, and came in a little under it. This always impressed the customer and got lots of repeat business.

    Contract or not?

    Contracts are double edged swords. They cut both ways. I mostly have done business on a hand shake basis. I give a written proposal which contains an hourly rate, an estimate, and a statement of warranty. If they accept the contract verbally I will begin work. Since I have always been interested in developing long term relationships with customers, I trust them first, and since they don't pay up front they don't have to trust me. If they are going to screw me, they will only get to do it one time. If they are good people I didn't need a contract in the first place, and if they are bad guys, it's not usually worth the trouble and time to go after them anyway. I have only been screwed twice in 27 years, once for about $6000, which was paid up four years later, and once for about $450.

    Best way to bill a client?

    My payments terms have always been net 30. However, you should probably state on your invoice that payment is due upon receipt, deliver it by hand and try to collect. Then if you don't get the money right then, you start dunning them if they haven't paid in two weeks. After you have built up some cash flow, you can ease off on your terms.

    Should you think up a company name? If you are just starting off and want to see if the concept will work, no need to do this.

    You should draw up a basic battle plan. However, as long as you don't quit your day job you can just wing it for a while to get a feel for how the business goes. This is called "trial marketing", or "market research". Gives you valuable information to help you develop your business (battle) plan.

    The Small Business Helper
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  3. SD_Ryoko

    SD_Ryoko <img src="\usflag.gif" align="left"/>&nbsp; Admini Staff Member

    +81 / 0 / -0
    Just a followup.

    My first large client hired a different designer, because I took a week to respond to his request. Sigh.

    The good news is, I most likeley will be doing freelance spam/newlestter HTML emails for a large, local grocery store, which looks like a very potentially profitable deal on my end.

    Thanks for the help :).
  4. Chile

    Chile The All Purpose Administrator

    +8 / 0 / -0
    A typical turnover time on a design project should be about 3 days. For a programming job, about a week. Having said that, the client can make life miserable for you by not responding in a timely manner, not conveying their wants and needs correctly, or changing their mind a day or three into your development time of the project.

    The major difference between a professional designer and a non-pro is that a pro always works on the project until it's complete, notifies the client of any cost overruns, and bills accordingly.

    I add, clients need to learn that they get what they pay for. For example, if a client hires someone for next to nothing, they will eventually get next to nothing. A well paid designer will be their designer forever, heh.

    Regarding estimates and billing:

    An estimate is just that, an estimate. If you charge by the hour, you are doing the client a favor. See, on an hourly basis, the client can see exactly what your perform in exchange for their money. Hourly billing is also great if you don't honestly know how long a project will take.

    Over at the GDC (Graphic Designers Society of Canada) newsgroup, I've learned that many designers offer a flat rate on the project, and an hourly rate for over runs. Basically, as a designer, you need to feel out the client and determine whether they are the right client for you. If the client hires you because they like your work, you will probably recieve other projects from them.

    Billing by the month is the most sensible process. Many companies have their book keepers perform all accounts recievable and accounts payable duties at this time of the month, and an early bill can easily get lost underneath 2 weeks of paperwork. ;)
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  5. SD_Ryoko

    SD_Ryoko <img src="\usflag.gif" align="left"/>&nbsp; Admini Staff Member

    +81 / 0 / -0
    I made an hourly arrangement with the customer, provided an outline plan of changes to be made, and asked him to approve & comment on it. I will be sending him a detailed summary of time spent, each month.

    Seems to be going fine, the only thing is he makes major decisions about the site & services without even asking my opinion. Its his choice really, but when he calls and says 'I cancelled this, this and this' I'm just like..... ummmmmm....ok!
  6. SD_Ryoko

    SD_Ryoko <img src="\usflag.gif" align="left"/>&nbsp; Admini Staff Member

    +81 / 0 / -0
    Things are going well. I've recieved my second monthly check from the customer. He includes nice cards when he send them too.

    So far, I have
    -Converted 55 HTML pages into 10 php pages for him
    -Wrote a MySQL script that catagorizes all his fighters, that he can edit and configure himself without editing code
    -Wrote two giant news and events scripts he can interact with, and post articles himself
    -Wrote a nice script that lets him maintain his shopping cart and items
    -Found a new streaming video & cart service for him, thats 120$ less a month.
    -Got his pay per view account set up and configured
    -Created some new animated advertisements for him

    I'm not too happy with the overall 'appearance' of his site, but he understands it would take time to remake it all, and chose not too. I made everything use a master template, so if he wanted to change the appearance, everything else would still work fine.

    I describe everything I plan to do ahead of time, and give him estimates on the time it would take. I send him an itemized monthly invoice with all fees and totals, and make sure to return all his messages or calls. Its very difficult sometimes, hes very computer illiterate, so I have to over explain, and re-explain everything, and even then he doesn't understand. He does know how to make a shortcut on his desktop now :) Heh heh.

    Going very well I would say.
  7. Rinpun

    Rinpun Ex TH Member

    +107 / 0 / -0
    To which I wonder why the computer illiterate even HAVE jobs OR money. Ah well, good going Ryoko :D
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  8. SD_Ryoko

    SD_Ryoko <img src="\usflag.gif" align="left"/>&nbsp; Admini Staff Member

    +81 / 0 / -0
    LOL well, a person who puts on kickboxing shows and fights, may not even own a computer ;)

    And thanks!

    I just should have done it sooner, and made money on my free time. I just never thought I could put it all together, and I was wrong.

    Ace has helped me a lot with CSS and newer specs lately - he's been great.
  9. BrokenX

    BrokenX New Member

    +25 / 0 / -0
    Goodjob :).


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