Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pricing your work

What to charge?  
Last week we talked about UNIT pricing, useful for small, uniform items like name tags, envelopes, and reproductions.  Here are two more categories for pricing your calligraphy work: time and expertise.  

Category 2. You can set a price by estimating the TIME it will take to complete the work.  You have to include all the time, which adds up fast: talking to the client, shopping for special materials, learning a special alphabet, making mistakes, cleaning up.  
Once you have added up the hours, you still need to set a rate per hour.  A good rule of thumb for a beginner is four times the minimum hourly wage in your area.  For every hour you spend with pen in hand, you will spend another hour on general non-lettering chores, a third hour on the vacations, sick leave, and coffee breaks any reasonable boss has to give, and a fourth hour providing for the overhead expenses of workspace, furniture, utilities, and transportation.  
Typical jobs that can be estimated and charged per hour even when you present an invoice based on the piece of finished work: poster design, award, retirement scroll. 

Category 3. Once you have learned about selling items or charging for your time, you are ready to sell your EXPERTISE.  Don't underprice it.  You are billing not only for the hour it takes to ink a monogram design and the time spent meeting with your client, but for the days you spent thinking it up and the decade you spent sharpening your skills.  And since expertise often consists of knowing what to leave out, a simple design does not necessarily cost less than a complicated one, nor take less time.
Typical jobs: logo design, signage, wedding graphics.  

More about pricing next week, when we look at what to charge when you are really well known.  

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