One of the best advantages of taking on freelance 3D design work is being able to do the work you love on your own terms. If you are just entering the world of Designer For Hire then you are probably new to figuring out what those terms are. Luckily there are numerous resources for for figuring out how to set your rates as a designer. We haven’t included numbers in this post because determining your fees, rates or pay structure is an individual endeavor. It pays to do you research and to talk with others in your industry, and fortunately we’ve a great community of them here on our forums!
–It’s your job to communicate your value and educate your customer.
In addition to doing “the work” once the brief is agreed upon and the contract is signed, a big part of your job as a designer for hire is to educate your client on their options, processes, costs and most importantly, the value of what you do. The client is hiring you because they are not a designer and they may not always understand how the design process works.
–Create a formula for determining your basic hourly rate.
What you charge will depend on the demand for your 3D modeling and printing skills, your level of experience with the type of product and materials, and will vary from client to client. To begin charging prices that you are confident in, it’s worth doing a quick calculation of how much you’d ideally like to make. The equation, which is adapted from Freelancers Union’s excellent resource on the topic, is this:
(annual salary + annual profit) ÷ annual billable work hours = your basic hourly rate
Annual salary should what you would pay yourself if you were your boss. Annual profit is what you would like to make in compensation on top of being paid for time working. Billable hours should be determined by how much you will actually be working, so factor in weekends and having full-time job if that’s your scenario. This will give you a starting number with which you can work.
–Decide if you want to charge by hourly rate, daily rate or by project/package rate.
With their calculator, Freelancers Union has a rather simple comparison list for each of these rates along with this advice: “After you figure out your basic hourly rate, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to present this fee to clients in a contract. (Yes, contract! All freelancers need contracts. Please work with a contract.)” Once you have used the equation to price your time, skill and you can choose to provide a quote in the form of an hourly, day, or per project rate. The summary is that an hourly rate is good for simplicity and a job scope that may change. A day rate is good for taking on a small project that wouldn’t be cost-effective otherwise. A per-project or package rate is helpful if you want to publicly post your prices and lets the client feel in control of the costs.
–Get a budget from client but also do market research.
It seems obvious but knowing what percentage of their budget they’ve allocated for design will help you set your price. If they are new to hiring a 3D designer they may not have an idea of what they should budget.
TL;DR? Communicate your value, determine your basic day rate, evaluate each job with your criteria, use a contract. We’ll have more tips on successful designing for hire along the way but here’s hoping this will get you started confidently pricing your skilled work. Happy designing!