Money Advice for Freelance Designers
So it's time for the final lecture I'll be giving to the illustration students of UCLan, well this side of 2015 at least, and tomorrow it's all about money.
The advice is presented as if you're a freelance Illustrator or Designer. Although (hopefully) it should be useful to anyone who need to bill clients for any type of project. I have explained the entire process of managing your cash flow by splitting the presentation into the following sections:
- Cost estimates
- Time estimates
- Hourly Rate -vs- Flat Fee
Just like last weeks talk (which went really well), it's not just my advice and experiences that I'll be talking through. I have to give a huge thank you to my colleagues and all the readers of Designer News who helped by filling of my short survey.
I've curated all the survey results in to short bullets of advice. Below I have picked out some really nice advice and quotes that people have left behind...
Cost & Time Estimates
- “This is extremely hard to do [estimate costs] early in your career. Primarily because you haven't had enough experience in most cases to gauge a rough sweet-spot of what your worth is.”
- “It's taken me several years, but I've finally gotten to be confident enough in my skills to know almost exactly how long certain tasks will take me, and I can now craft more accurate estimates because of it.”
- “The number of hours is very heavily influenced by experience - it took a few projects which involved me being underpaid and overworked to figure out exactly how long it ACTUALLY took me to do things.”
- “Everyone vastly underestimates a project or two starting out. Learn from these mistakes.”
- “I've worked my way up to that number over several years after realizing I was underpaying myself.”
Junior Designer Salleries
- “Entry salaries are rough to deal with, but the speed you can improve your earnings is phenomenal if you're doing a good job.”
- “Come to terms with the balance of job satisfaction and salary… learning is more valuable than cash when you start out.”
Invoicing and Saving
- “I only release a very low res version until final invoice payment. Then give them them all the high res versions when payment clears.”
- “Saving shouldn't be as daunting as it sounds, back then I associated everything I earned with 'I need this to live' - save something, even if it's as little as £25 a month, if you get a raise, increase your savings.”
- “Save up at least 3 to 6 months worth of living expenses. This will make the slow times so much less stressful and prevent you from taking on bad projects or clients due to panic over finances.”
- “Send nice emails. Build a good relationship with the client. Understand where they're coming from.”
- “Only work with people you are confident of having a good working relationship with. Trust needs to be built otherwise as with all relationships, it will break down.”
- “Meet them, spend time talking to them, it will help you become better at judging peoples nature.”
- “Be prepared to have a client base and have the patience to deal with every single one.”
I hope everyone who witnessed the presentation found it useful, sorry if again it was lacking killer visuals this week.
University of Central Lancashire