Freelance Friday 09: Quoting Multiple Options

Happy Friday everyone! Last week I chatted a bit about the streess-inducing topic of quoting for jobs. Today is part two, wherein I extol the virtues of quoting multiple options!

Disclaimer: As always, this is based purely on personal experiences and approaches, and should not be considered as business advice, legal or otherwise. Any use you make of posts on this blog are entirely at your own risk.

SallyThompson-FF-QuotingOptions

I started giving multiple options (when asked to quote) when a couple of things converged for me.

-One, as I came to understand how huge a number of things could affect how much I should quote for a job, I realized that that could also be flipped – a lot of elements could be adjusted, to change the quote.

-And two, conversations with a few potential clients ended when their budget was lower than my quote, despite my efforts to explain, when I quoted, that lots of variables affect a quote and could bring it up or down.

I realized that a concrete example of how things could affect a quote was much more successful way of communicating this.

As a made up example, say I was quoting for a short comic job, where a business wants a 5 page colour comic. I might explain that many variables can affect a quote, and offer a high end, medium, and low end package to illustrate this, saying that what they want is likely somewhere in between.

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 -A: (£high!)

5 page colour comic. Work to include:

Writing – comic to be written by artist based on discussions and materials supplied by client. 3 story concepts offered, selected concept written up, including one round of adjustments at draft stage.

Artwork – full-service comic artwork, including digital flat colour and lettering. One round of adjustments appropriate to stage of work at sketch, inked/lettered, and final stages. (Extra rounds of changes may be requested at additional hourly rate)

License to include:

Full, perpetual license to use the Work in advertising (print and digital, UK and international), and in publications, commercial or otherwise.

 -B: (£medium)

5 page colour comic. Work to include:

Adaptation – comic to be written based on prose story supplied by client, following discussion (artist reserves right to request story rework by client if too long to fit within 5 comic pages).

Artwork – full-service comic artwork, including digital flat colour and lettering. One round of adjustments appropriate to stage of work at sketch, inked/lettered, and final stages. (Extra rounds of changes may be requested at additional hourly rate)

License to include:

5 year license to use the Work in advertising (UK print and digital), and 2 year license for use in publications, commercial or otherwise. (Future renewals and further rights will require new agreement and additional fee (not to exceed original fee))

 -C: (£lowest)

5 page colour comic. Work to include:

Comic artwork based on script provided by client (comic format, including panel descriptions – artist reserves right to request story rework by client if too much to fit within pages).

Artwork – full-service comic artwork, including digital flat colour and lettering. One round of adjustments appropriate to stage of work at sketch, inked/lettered, and final stages. (Extra rounds of changes may be requested at additional hourly rate)

License to include:

3 year license to use the Work in advertising (UK print and digital). (Other usage rights, including use in commercial publications, will require new agreement and additional fee).

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So, that’s just an example, and a likely imperfect, missing-some-things one, but it does do a few things:

-It concretely shows the potential client what sort of variables can affect the price, and how much.

-It shows that both usage and your time affect the price (Eg. The writing vs script thing…I’ve learned not to take it as given that a script will be provided when working with clients who don’t usually use comics (or that they will automatically understand what can reasonably fit in a comic page), and have done a number of extra hours adapting stories because of this).

-It helps clarify who is doing what early on (since, to save unnecessary negotiating, quotes or budgets tend to be best discussed early). What format they will provide the story in, what adjustments you are offering…these are all things that will need to be negotiated, and this puts them up-front in a clear manner.

-It hopefully helps avoid clients with lower budgets being scared off by the high quote (you can always put the lower one at the top if you think their budget may be on that end!)

-It may help avoid you losing out if a client’s budget is actually much higher than you would have quoted if sending a single quote (so if they’re on-the-ball enough to clearly state what they want in terms of license, etc, you could always include a quote that offers more than they’re requesting, in one form or another, for a higher price).

This can also help you (when they respond) to get a read on their awareness of license issues etc, their experience commissioning art, etc. If they’re new to it, it’ll give you an idea of whether they’re happy to learn more about it and see you as an expert, or whether they have unreasonable pre-conceived ideas. (Feel free to send them the Licensing Basics comic if they’re new to commissioning!)

 What if they say the lowest quote is higher than their budget?

Well, firstly, you can always just say “I’m sorry to hear that. Do let me know if you’d like to discuss any work in future”, and walk away.

However, I usually add, when quoting, that the right package for them may be somewhere in between, and we can very likely find a solution that is do-able for both their budget and my time.

Then if it’s a job/client I’m interested in, and they seem to be happy to compromise to find a solution, I can send another quote that compromises on some things to bring the price down. That might be improving the terms for me (more time, royalties/copies of merch, more freedom to use the image myself, etc), or restricting the offer a little more (a shorter license, which they can renew if going well, suggesting monochrome instead of colour, less changes (so they can either go with art as-is, or pay extra for changes), etc).

You may even feel comfortable offering a discount if it’s a larger job (bulk discount) or their a repeat client. But:

I believe it’s really important, if accepting a lower rate for a job – especially a significantly lower rate – that you’re not just accepting a much lower rate for the same work. In doing so, you’re essentially undermining your own previous quote, saying “Oh go on then, you can pay me (x). Yes, I quoted (y) before, but my work isn’t really worth that, I was just trying my luck”. No! You offered a fair, considered quote based on the value of your time, skills and experience. If the rate is going to be lower, the package offered needs to be adjusted in line with that – politely saying “well, I can’t offer quite the same package for that price, but here’s what we can do…”

I think it’s good to be flexible, to work with clients to figure out something that’s fair and beneficial to both of you – as any business agreement should be! We want to work with people who value our work – and that starts with valuing it ourselves, and not undermining our own assertion of its value.

Happy quoting!

 

(PS – yeah, quoting and negotiating kinda takes ages, and I think being able to outsource it is a major benefit of working with agents! For those of us doing it ourselves (and I do think it’s super valuable to do it yourself for at least a while), are there any strategies you use to keep the time in line? Do you keep templates to adjust? Please do share in the comments!)

Links:

-That Jessica Hische pricing post I linked last time is a really useful example of different kinds of license options (if on a rather different scale! 🙂

 

2 thoughts on “Freelance Friday 09: Quoting Multiple Options

  1. Vicki Paull (@Wikivic)

    A big help is just experience I think – now that I’ve worked through the process so many times I can at least get a quote document set up super quick! (filling all of the figures out takes a little longer though…)

    Actually, where possible, writing down how longs things take is a great help! And not just for one project, as similar projects can differ by quite a bit (e.g. I’ve designed a logo that has taken 3 days flat, maybe a little less, but I’ve also done one that took over a week straight)

    I think, if you do a lot of the same kind of work – maybe a specific style of comic, or size of illustration – keeping master documents where you simply fill in the details of each project would save time. However, in my line of work the projects are generally too different to each other for that to make much of a difference.

    Actually one good tip: make sure you get a good detailed specification from the client before diving into drawing up the quote. I’ve had quite a few enquiries from potential clients who have never hired an artist before and therefore don’t know exactly what details I need. They might send me something vague (e.g. ‘the game will need a box’, with no mention of approx. dimensions). I like to get back to them and pin down the details first thing, rather than be half way through writing out the quote and realise I’m missing something.

    1. sally Post author

      Great point on specifications! Hmm, perhaps a questionnaire to send to queries would be a good thing keep on hand, so one can say “Could you fill in these details and return it to me so that I can send you a more accurate quote”… (could have separate ones for board games, comics, illustration – with the specs one needs to know)

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