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Taking Care of Business
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Old January 9th, 2006, 04:43 PM   #1
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getting paid properly

I've been working video jobs constantly since I graduated college 2 years ago. I recently started my own freelance business and own all my own equipment. But, I have a good feeling I'm being underpaid. How do I find what the proper rates are for freelance video work? I find it awkward to ask other professionals in my area because they may just think of me as a competitor and not give me a straight answer. I also need some sort of metrics or average and reliable rate sheet, because I don't feel my clients know what this type of work is worth as well. I know the answer depends on experience level and quality of equipment, but I just want a ballpark so I can express to my clients how much I am worth. Any advice?

Thanks,

Michael
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Old January 9th, 2006, 07:05 PM   #2
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I read this recently: http://graphicdesign.about.com/libra.../aa092702a.htm

and thought it was interesting. Perhaps it will help you figure out what you should be charging. I think metrics and rate sheets are not as useful because the packages, abilities, and locales are all differing variables.



mg
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Old January 9th, 2006, 09:55 PM   #3
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Here's a basic way to figure out how much you should be getting paid.

Figure out your monthly expenses.
Rent,
gas
electric
phone
Food
Web page
broadband service
public transportation if you use it (trains, buss, cab)
car expenses if you own or rent
cost to pay off your equipment (credit card bill) in a year or two so you can be free to update gear as technology changes - this includes:
Camera and accessories
computer
software
cost to maintain that gear
cost of consumable such as tape and DVD
any other marketing expenses
maybe health insurance
equipment insurance

You need to pay all your bills at the end of the month

Figure about 20-25 paid hours a week
The rest of the time you'll be talking to potential clients, maintaining gear/computer, software updates etc, learning new software, updating the web page doing paperwork.

You figure out how much you need to charge if you work 25 hours a week to cover all the above expenses.

That's your baseline rate.
At that rate you have no profit but you're not going to be homeless or go out of business. NEVER work for less than that.
If you're doing flat rate projects you need to tightly control the hours you put in and it's good to spell out such parameters in a contract. Otherwise work hourly.

As you get better you can consider raising your rate above that baseline.

Charge too low and the word of mouth recommendations might keep you busy but you'll drive yourself to burnout and out of business.
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Old January 9th, 2006, 10:06 PM   #4
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I wrote a column in Studio Monthly about this a few months ago. There is the issue of what clients need to charge, but the more important issue is what do you need to charge to stay in business and put food on your table. The basic formula is similar to what Craig posted, in other words

(labor + overhead + profit) divided by billable hours.

You can read my column online here:

http://www.studiodaily.com/main/searchlist/5564.html

You'll probably be most interested in the "Do The Math: Finding A Livable Rate" sidebar at the bottom.

HTH,

Jim
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Old January 9th, 2006, 10:32 PM   #5
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Your question has been visited before. Here are the links.

Relative Threads
www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=53540

www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=47354
James Emory is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 19th, 2006, 07:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Bendixen
I've been working video jobs constantly since I graduated college 2 years ago. I recently started my own freelance business and own all my own equipment. But, I have a good feeling I'm being underpaid. How do I find what the proper rates are for freelance video work? I find it awkward to ask other professionals in my area because they may just think of me as a competitor and not give me a straight answer. I also need some sort of metrics or average and reliable rate sheet, because I don't feel my clients know what this type of work is worth as well. I know the answer depends on experience level and quality of equipment, but I just want a ballpark so I can express to my clients how much I am worth. Any advice?

Thanks,

Michael
hello michael,

well, i am in the same situation. after 1 1/2 year working almost for nothing, and several thausends of dollars in the red, i am starting to charge.
off cours there are many many posts on this board about that issue.

here is a link, which helped me a lot to understand a videographer bill/ quote.

off course i do not promote the software, but play around with it. it was a eye opener for me.

http://www.minutiaesoftware.com/

greetings
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