Tag: freelance

#mochat 70 – Rates & Billing

This week on #mochat we discussed the fragile topic of money—billing & rates. It worked out well with no one feeling pressured to reveal specific numbers.

For most people, learning what to charge is an ongoing process, with few figuring it out right away. What helped people was talking to others in their area to get a sense of what their rates are. Experience, type of work, and location are all factors. Fortunately, an anonymous (and interactive) survey from Coroflot can point you in the right direction, too.  One of the big points to consider is that by freelancing, you need to not only cover your own salary, but also expenses like equipment, software, and taxes.

On billing, people vary between charging per hour or day and a flat rate. It seemed to depend on the client and personal preference. Whether or not to charge for rendering also came up.

Read on for the full transcript of this week’s #mochat…

[photo by Andy on flickr]

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MoChat 21 Transcript & Summary

Last night on #MoChat we talked about the business side of freelance. Some good questions were raised, as well as good tips:

  • Be weary of clients asking for pitches. If it’s necessary, put in the minimal amount of time you’re comfortable losing.
  • If moonlighting, make sure clients are completely clear about your schedule ahead of time.
  • Save up cash, especially when starting out. Paychecks are sporadic.
  • Work out payment schedules with clients. If they’re late, find out why and react accordingly.
  • Set aside some percentage of your paychecks for quarterly estimated taxes.
  • Insurance is expensive, but there’s some major changes coming with the Affordable Care Act.
  • Check the Freelancers Union.
  • Accountants can be a huge help. As can lawyers, but maybe less frequently.
  • Prioritize. You don’t need to be working 24/7.

[learn_more caption=”Transcript”]

Welcome to #mochat everyone! Tonight we’re talking the business end of freelance.8:59 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

To start things off, what are some of your concerns as a freelancer? #mochat9:00 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

competing on price against folks who live outside US. #mochat9:01 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

My concerns are on becoming a part-time freelancer but honestly is there such a thing? #mochat9:02 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

my concern with being a freelancer, if I did it exclusively, would be knowing when the next job is coming in. #mochat9:03 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

There is as long as clients are clear that you’ll be mostly unavailable 9-5. #mochat9:03 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

My biggest concern right now is how to stop thinking of income the same way as a fulltime gig. #mochat9:03 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

that sounds like moonlighting. One way to get your feet wet #mochat9:04 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

you can’t just do great work. You can’t win the race to the bottom #mochat9:04 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

If you can, live as frugally as possible and hoard cash until you have a decent buffer. Then pay yourself. #mochat9:04 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

true dat I need to get my feet wet… 8) #mochat9:05 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

You also have an advantage in that you live in the culture you’re helping to create. You can’t offshore that. #mochat9:05 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

the offshore thing is above our control, focus on being great here. #mochat9:06 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Yeah, there comes a time when the buffer is big enough you just stop being worried. #mochat9:06 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

the cost of insurance was one of the big factors that deterred me and family from going full time freelance #mochat9:07 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

It can just take a while. #mochat9:07 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I’d go as far to say, you don’t want to work for companies who send work offshore. They are hurting us all. #mochat9:07 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Insurance is a big issue for a lot of freelancers. How many of you are doing without? Do you have a family? #mochat9:08 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

How much do people hate calling tech support? Language barriers aren’t always worth it #mochat9:08 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I hear that. Would love to hear what freelancers with and without families do for healthcare. #mochat9:08 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Also one thing to note, is does everyone understand how insurance is going to change after next year. #mochat9:09 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I’m a staff animator but occasionally freelance by night. How to convince potential clients I have enough time for them? #mochat9:09 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I’ll say no. please expand on that. #mochat9:09 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

http://t.co/ktUQ0Rmo read that over, its changing for everyone, but it means even more to freelancers. #mochat9:10 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

When I was fulltime freelance, I bought my own insurance for the family and paid through the nose… Even with an HSA plan. #mochat9:10 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

, which insurance liability, medical? #mochat9:11 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Obama’s healthcare plan. http://t.co/ktUQ0Rmo #mochat9:11 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I have an llc and through that have my healthcare setup for my family but it is still $$$ #mochat9:11 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

, yes required health care, also any luxury plans (what used to be good ones) will now be taxed as ordinary income. #mochat9:13 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

what kind of plan? Who’s the provider? #mochat9:13 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

As a small business and single freelancer it will benefit us, I cant speak to familys as I havent read into it. #mochat9:13 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

By delivering on time, and for new clientes telling them that you did deliver on time every previous work #mochat9:13 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

also for those who have day jobs to support their bills, you can expect the folks who are older to be tracked out. #mochat9:14 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

There is also The Freelancers Union offering help and plans https://t.co/qR32I0lL #mochat9:15 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

the biggest single reason that has always kept me away from full-time freelance is insurance #mochat9:15 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

in your case, not paying, yes you will lose out…but for my plans its actually beneficial. #mochat9:16 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I think were talking american companies asking for lower pay by outsourcing motion. #mochat9:16 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

there’s lots of people that have issues with the new healthcare stuff. i say, go to cananda like you threatened. WAIT #mochat9:17 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

yes I am referring to american companies. #mochat9:18 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Hey man, multiple translations are where the money is! #mochat9:20 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Is anyone seeing any considerable amount of offshore farming? #mochat9:20 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

there is tons!!!! It just isnt something anyone cares to actually watch. Farmed motion graphics sucks. #mochat9:21 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

i always like the ‘wow you are english’ comments when i worked tech spt #mochat9:21 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

On the issue of money, how do you handle taxes? Quarterly estimated taxes seem to surprise everyone. #mochat9:21 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Hahaha, gotcha. I’d been hearing the same in programming actually. #mochat9:22 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

around where I live (washington state) there has been more work going to our neighbors (Canada) to the north because of price. #mochat9:22 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Going to do quarterly next year, but this year I have set aside almost double what I need so I will be ready for the hit #mochat9:22 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I recommend that everyone use an accountant for taxes when making quarterly payments. Worth it. #mochat9:23 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

if there was a physical representation of ‘taxes’ it would look like a giant spider eating a fetus #mochat9:23 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I would take 30% of each paycheck and set it aside, pretended I didn’t even have it until tax time. #mochat9:23 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

what do you usally end up paying? #mochat9:23 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

RT : I would take 30% of each paycheck and set it aside, pretended I didn’t even have it until tax time. #mochat9:23 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

how much cheaper is Canadian mograph work? #mochat9:23 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

do even more, and you get to surprise yourself at the end of the year. #mochat9:24 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

i say take out 1.5 to 2x what you need quarterly to be safe #mochat9:24 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

~15% #mochat9:24 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I usually would anyway. We owned a house & had kids so had lots of deductions. #mochat9:24 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

, re tax: B&O tax, state income tax (if applicable), federal income tax, social security & fica. #mochat9:27 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Taxes suck, but they pay for all of the things we need to freelance. #takingtheotherside #mochat9:29 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

What do you do if clients are “untimely” with payments? #mochat9:29 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I do taxes on a monthly basis #mochat9:29 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Find out why they are untimely, its a bad economy give them the benefit of the doubt. #mochat9:30 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

ditto on the insurance fear. Having cancer makes it worse! #mochat9:31 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

the way I work with my clients is payment is due upon milestone completion. #mochat9:31 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

but making things clear up front, with contracts or legal protection can be preventative care. #mochat9:31 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

That’s a good point. How many of you have contracts or any agreements in writing when taking jobs? #mochat9:32 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

– late fees/penalties/late deliveries, etc are discussed in contract. #mochat9:32 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

best not to work with those who are “untimely” with payments more than once. #mochat9:33 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

do you charge fees for rework or changes from original idea? #mochat9:33 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

depending in the project, I require half up front based on an estimate. Then provide followup emails every two weeks #mochat9:34 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Off topic, but how many regular clients do you freelancers tend to have at once? #mochat9:34 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

RT : if there was a physical representation of ‘taxes’ it would look like a giant spider eating a fetus #mochat9:34 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

, depends if we agreed on work, then customer changes their mind I will charge them for the work. #mochat9:35 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

A million possibilities and 1-2 current clients. #mochat9:35 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

As in working on concurrent projects, or just in contact with? #mochat9:35 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

treat it like a business. I can’t say it any other way. #mochat9:35 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

good point, there are times if it is a good repeat customer you will give them a pass on some rework. #mochat9:36 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

At a time. And also, how often do you have to call around asking for work? #mochat9:37 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I always feel like people do that when they know it will ultimately get them more work. If it makes sense do it. #mochat9:38 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

curious how do you deal with customer untimely payments? #mochat9:39 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

: I try to every time. 50% up front. (Not freelancing in traditional sense)” #mochat9:43 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

We’re approaching the final minutes of #mochat. What about lawyers & accountants. Who has them? Worth it?9:45 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I never had either. But there were times I wish I did. #mochat9:47 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

no? I guess its good that none of us have needed one. #mochat9:47 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I will admit to asking legal advice of a law friend when a client asked me to do some questionable work (copyright). #mochat9:48 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

yes to both. Accountant worth it, Lawyer not so much, I use them for non-standard contracts. #mochat9:48 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Just getting in. Hoth battle and popcorn with kids = Priorities 🙂 #mochat9:49 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

work-life balance. Definitely worth it. #mochat9:49 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Percentage-wise, how much of you income does having both cost? Is the lawyer on retainer? #mochat9:50 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I had a client like my work, but still asked for a sample motion to their project up front before discussing money. What to do? #mochat9:51 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Always 🙂 #mochat9:52 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

A proposal is one thing, that’s a little questionable. #mochat9:52 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

for accountant it < 1%, lawyer ~3-4%. #mochat9:53 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

make a sample and watermark the hell out of it with travitacus all over it.. just kidding. #mochat9:53 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I wouldn’t unless you are ok with probably losing a bunch of time. #mochat9:53 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Yeah, just sayin’ that they trust my skills to their task already, why need an unpaid sample instead of doing business? #mochat9:54 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Right 🙂 I was planning on making it a smaller render and lowering the rez if I did it at all. #mochat9:56 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Actually, if you think getting the job is a non-issue, has a point about watermarking. #mochat9:56 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

if client reside outside US then I’ll need to deal with lawyers to make sure contract is binding in their country. #mochat9:56 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Yeah, feels like I would waste time and effort. So I am probably going to decline the work. #mochat9:56 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Good advice. #mochat9:57 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I’ve done proposals and worked on style-frames for a bid, but only two hours on something like that. #mochat9:58 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

How many use any of the programs out there for insurance and such as a freelancer, or are you covering yourself as part of the bid? #mochat9:59 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

They sound like the sort who will go “This is so great! We can pay you $25 to finish it.” #mochat10:00 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

We’re just about out of time. What’s one thing you wold tell others about the business of freelancing? #mochat10:00 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Good point, I don’t think I would loose a whole lot that way. Thanks 🙂 #mochat10:00 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

🙂 It is starting to smell that way to me too. #mochat10:01 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

, that is good advice. #mochat10:02 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Setting up a hangout here at the end of #mochat has some fun tips for us today. Come hangout out and tweet me for an invite10:04 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Thanks to everyone for their advice and time tonight. #mochat10:06 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

That’s it for tonight everyone. Look for the transcript tomorrow. #mochat10:07 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

I do, and make them sign it, but to some clients that doesn’t mean Shit #mochat10:07 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

Join us next week for a #mochat on title design. Thanks for coming out everyone. And as always, #GoMakeSomething10:07 PM ET Nov 27th, 2012

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MoChat 5 Transcript & Summary

Last night, MoChat covered self-promotion and business. It was a broad topic that yielded a lot of separate conversations. Some advice that seemed to resonate with people last night, in no particular order:

  • Network with people. A lot of work comes from referrals.
  • Keep making things and showing them to people.
  • It’s expensive, but get insurance.
  • Make sure to have a reel that shows your various skill-sets. [Ed. Note: but don’t mix things like editing, directing, motion design, etc all into one reel.]
  • If you’re promoting yourself on Twitter, try to keep posts on-topic & focussed.
  • Make sure to set aside money for quarterly taxes.
  • “Not having a boss” is a myth of freelance. Your clients (and you) are very much the boss.
  • If you’re able, draw up contracts or at least agreements with clients before projects start. Make sure everyone’s on the same page.
  • Try to get some percentage of money up front, if possible.
  • When making the jump to full-time freelance, make sure you have a few months of “salary” saved up as a buffer.
  • Maintain a relationship with your clients.
  • Ask for referrals from current clients.
  • Knowing a lawyer can be very helpful. [@invrsleep found this resource.]
  • Coop spaces are a great alternative to working at home.
  • Setting up your own LLC (or even S-Corp) can be a good way to go, but know the consequences of doing so.
  • Never stop learning.

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Reel Showcase: The Rocket Panda

Designer Riccardo Albertini recently updated his portfolio site and reel (seen below). His 2012 reel features a great combination of 2D, 3D, character animation, and compositing. It’s not often you find a designer so versatile. A full project credit list can be found on his site.
[iframe_vimeo video=”33112817″]