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Guest csven

Realistic Hourly Rates

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Guest csven

Nothing I say will stop passionate designers from working for free and devaluing themselves and the profession in the process. I'm tired of trying to convince people. Instead, if there are some young, stupid but talented designers out there who want to work for free, drop me a message. I'll gladly take your time and ideas and sell them while you're left trying to figure out how to put a roof over your head.

 

In fact, if there are any designers who want to give away their designs - stuff they've posted to their portfolio or something they're working on now - please let everyone know. There's not much difference between working for free and giving away your work. Some of you might have some ideas that I can sell and getting your permission up front would eliminate any potential legal issues. Thanks.

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Guest Grant Howarth
Nothing I say will stop passionate designers from working for free and devaluing themselves and the profession in the process. I'm tired of trying to convince people. Instead, if there are some young, stupid but talented designers out there who want to work for free, drop me a message. I'll gladly take your time and ideas and sell them while you're left trying to figure out how to put a roof over your head.

 

In fact, if there are any designers who want to give away their designs - stuff they've posted to their portfolio or something they're working on now - please let everyone know. There's not much difference between working for free and giving away your work. Some of you might have some ideas that I can sell and getting your permission up front would eliminate any potential legal issues. Thanks.

 

I know what you're getting at.. and i agree. How would you advise going about getting a job? It's an insanely tough climate and potentially the worst time to come into the job market in the last 10 years... I've applied to shedloads of places for paid work... but i'm getting nowhere. i know people who studied History at university and graduated into a saturated job market who then went on to work voluntary.. which in time secured them a job...

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Guest csven
How would you advise going about getting a job?

I wouldn't. I'd recommend that take a mindless job somewhere to pay the rent and spend some time working on your portfolio.

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Guest Buff
Nothing I say will stop passionate designers from working for free and devaluing themselves and the profession in the process. I'm tired of trying to convince people. Instead, if there are some young, stupid but talented designers out there who want to work for free, drop me a message. I'll gladly take your time and ideas and sell them while you're left trying to figure out how to put a roof over your head.

 

In fact, if there are any designers who want to give away their designs - stuff they've posted to their portfolio or something they're working on now - please let everyone know. There's not much difference between working for free and giving away your work. Some of you might have some ideas that I can sell and getting your permission up front would eliminate any potential legal issues. Thanks.

 

 

LOL, maybe I should make my portfoilio pasword protcted..... mind you, I've seen a realy nice line of tool bags I could use on some Coroflot somewhere? ;-)

 

There exists a counter philosophy but not directly tied to ID mind you.

 

Research shows that purveyors of software for example who simply ask for a donation, have earned more that they would if they had fixed a price, this dispite that approx 90% plus of the downloads are taken free without any donation being made. Some 4% contibuting enough to recover funds to excced that which could be earned if the product had been given a competative price for a compareable product.

 

I don't see this business model working in a conventional ID supply chain, but it sure is interesting to see how VALUE is PERCIEVED.

 

Facts are meaningless, unless you change perseption. Managing perceptions is the key to winning business IME

 

Or as Homer J Simpson said “Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true.”

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Guest csven
Nothing I say will stop passionate designers from working for free and devaluing themselves and the profession in the process. I'm tired of trying to convince people. Instead, if there are some young, stupid but talented designers out there who want to work for free, drop me a message. I'll gladly take your time and ideas and sell them while you're left trying to figure out how to put a roof over your head.

 

In fact, if there are any designers who want to give away their designs - stuff they've posted to their portfolio or something they're working on now - please let everyone know. There's not much difference between working for free and giving away your work. Some of you might have some ideas that I can sell and getting your permission up front would eliminate any potential legal issues. Thanks.

 

 

LOL, maybe I should make my portfoilio pasword protcted..... mind you, I've seen a realy nice line of tool bags I could use on some Coroflot somewhere? ;-)

Maybe you should.

 

The point is that while students will post their work online and scream if someone "takes" it, they're perfectly happy to give away their design work for free if they have to show up at someone's office every day at an appointed hour and be told what it is they are to design. The logical disconnect is laughable.

 

As to posting work online:

 

1) most students don't realize that the work they do while enrolled in school may actually not be their intellectual property, especially if the project is industry-sponsored.

 

2) any patentable work posted online without proper IP protection becomes public knowledge. Thus, I don't post anything that I'm not reluctantly comfortable seeing someone else take.

 

3) I don't own the IP to the toolbags. If you want to copy them, by all means feel free; you might even be able to buy some at the store so you can get the dimensions correct (beats relying on the image I posted). Whether or not the corporation wants to enforce any patents, that's up to them.

 

Research shows that purveyors of software for example who simply ask for a donation, have earned more that they would if they had fixed a price, this dispite that approx 90% plus of the downloads are taken free without any donation being made. Some 4% contibuting enough to recover funds to excced that which could be earned if the product had been given a competative price for a compareable product.

 

I don't see this business model working in a conventional ID supply chain, but it sure is interesting to see how VALUE is PERCIEVED.

I'm familiar with these kinds of research. I'm also aware that the trend is moving away from free downloads and toward 'fremium" business models. Doubtlessly there is a reason for this trend.

 

The difference here, of course, is that the person asking for donations is almost certainly the person who created the software. They didn't work for free so someone else could give the software away and collect donations or otherwise monetize it. Apples and oranges.

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Guest Buff

Ah, yes, apples and oranges, yes both round, both fruit... I see the correlation now. Thanks for clearing that up.

 

OOPS wait a second... do you mean the computers and Jaffas?.... you really got me thinking now!

 

You didn't think I was serious about the toolbags did you? Of course not... that would be ridiculous. How stupid of me.

 

Well, back on topic. I agree on the free internship thing tbh. Perhaps from a different perspective, in my mind it’s not about devaluing the profession... it's about devaluing you.

 

Thing is, there is a price point for everyone.... the inventor who just need some CAD doing to get his idea moving allong isn't going to pay/afford the same as let’s say...oh... I dunno.....RUBBERMAID?

 

So just because someone works for say £20.00/hr doesn’t devalue the profession IMO, it’s a different market to a company that pitches itself to multi-nationals at say £200.00/h.... you could say it's like comparing ...erm....I know.... apples to oranges.

 

fact is we are often coming up against design businesses that are pitched at £2.00/hour from overseas... its a global marketplace...are they devaluing the profession... do we lobby against this and tell them they are embargoed from competing.

 

Such anti-competitive tactics where tried in the last 50+ years by GM, Ford and Chrysler against the Japanese automakers. Toyota are now the biggest and most profitable automaker in the world (even considering the economic downturn) whilst "the big three" are facing class 11 bankruptcy.

 

The watchmaking industry in Switzerland went through the same thing, but went on to adapt to the changing marketplace.

 

If ID is to survive with a reputation intact or better, improve it...then we must adapt to the changes taking place with intelligence...not simply whine about how everyone else is doing it wrongly

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I don't agree with the whole working for free thing either. But there is the difficult issue of getting your foot in the door. New kids fresh out of school don't have the real world experience yet (at least not proven) but nobody will hire them to get that experience. So they do need to find ways to get in which is why internships are so important. There's a trade off, not necessarily that of money for the design student but that of experience and networking that will help enrich their education and help them to get work.

 

It's different after you've graduated, especially if you didn't get an internship in school. The whole chicken and egg thing of how to get the job with no experience and how to get experience with no job. Lets assume that you have a nice portfolio, but nothing on the resume. An employer only sees your potential, but not necessarily any proof that you can perform in a professional environment since you haven't done it for anyone yet. They would have to be willing to gamble time and resources on you to hire you among all of the other people with experience also looking for work. It's these instances where having good names on the resume helps, whether it's the school or someplace you interned, in addition to the good portfolio. If you've worked anywhere else in the design field, at least then it appears that someone has valued your work to have you around (even if you were working for free) so a new potential employer doesn't feel like they're the first ones taking the gamble.

 

Once you have some names on the resume to help validate your nice portfolio, then you should be able to charge what you're supposed to much easier. But the hard part is getting to that point where an employer would even want to consider you. So I don't know, maybe it is one of the only ways for a new grad to get that foot in the door, especially with there being so much competition locally and abroad (but that's another discussion).

 

You can't tell everything from the portfolio so you also have to rely on references, your resume, and your ability to sell yourself. I'm a full-time freelancer but I can't show most of what I work on. But I stay busy enough that I don't really have time to work on my portfolio the way I would like to so that it truly represents my skills. So my portfolio isn't much different than someone fresh from school, mostly conceptual, maybe 1 or 2 things on the market. The resume helps sell the rest. The fact that this company or that firm have continued to use me for multiple years says that I must be doing something right, even if I don't get to show the nice work that I do for them and it's not completely evident in the portfolio.

 

I don't know how anyone fresh out of school would be able to get anything on their resumes unless they already had an internship in school through those connections first. Other than that, just the lucky few that get chosen just on their portfolio because somebody was willing to gamble and give them a chance. This is a very tough market to be graduating into, much harder than when I graduated. Even people with good portfolios are having trouble so somehow you need an additional edge whether it's contacts, marketing, stalking (joke), or the resume. Maybe in todays market, that means eating crap for a year or working for free for a few months (a post grad internship so to speak) so that you can get a name on that paper first to separate you from the rest. The new employer doesn't need to know that your first job was free or severely underpaid (at least you better not mention it!) So after you have something on the resume to show that someone values you, then you can charge what you're worth. It's a hard situation, any other suggestions?

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Guest csven
Ah, yes, apples and oranges, yes both round, both fruit... I see the correlation now. Thanks for clearing that up.

 

OOPS wait a second... do you mean the computers and Jaffas?.... you really got me thinking now!

 

You didn't think I was serious about the toolbags did you? Of course not... that would be ridiculous. How stupid of me.

No. I didn't think you were serious. I did, however, believe others would take you seriously.

 

Well, back on topic. I agree on the free internship thing tbh. Perhaps from a different perspective, in my mind it’s not about devaluing the profession... it's about devaluing you.
I think it goes hand-in-hand when one associates with and presents oneself as a professional within a particular trade.

 

Thing is, there is a price point for everyone.... the inventor who just need some CAD doing to get his idea moving allong isn't going to pay/afford the same as let’s say...oh... I dunno.....RUBBERMAID?
I don't change my prices based on the customer any more than a restaurant changes its prices (though I might alter my fee slightly in order to land a particularly interesting project). That inventor can do what others do when they don't have the cash to pay for the service: offer a percentage in whatever possible earnings might come from that invention.

 

So just because someone works for say £20.00/hr doesn’t devalue the profession IMO, it’s a different market to a company that pitches itself to multi-nationals at say £200.00/h.... you could say it's like comparing ...erm....I know.... apples to oranges.
If the work doesn't change but the cost for the service is lowered - for whatever reason - then the service's market value has been lowered. It doesn't matter to whom the service is provided.

 

So again, to make up for the lack of direct compensation, a company or individual without deep pockets can offer other compensation. I've done it. I'd do it more often if most of the "inventors" who contacted me didn't try to lie their way into getting me to sign a contract which didn't reflect the verbal agreement. That's a bigger issue than my not willing to lower the direct cost in exchange for a cut of their possible future success/sales.

 

fact is we are often coming up against design businesses that are pitched at £2.00/hour from overseas... its a global marketplace...are they devaluing the profession... do we lobby against this and tell them they are embargoed from competing.
Yes, they devalue the Western rates for ID just as they devalue the Western rates for many other services. I'm not talking in abstract terms. In monetary terms, the value has dropped.

 

I'm not lobbying against global competition. I don't need an embargo. All I need to do is point out how trying to save a fraction of a small percent of the business' operating cost can have a disproportionately adverse impact on their bottom line.

 

The question companies need to ask themselves is: was the lower hourly rate worth it from the broader business perspective? Was the risk prudent?

 

I've had companies decide to take my concept work overseas to chase lower hourly costs and have the work come back so poorly interpreted and executed the entire program had to be scrapped. If I'd done the work, it might have cost them a couple of thousand dollars extra, but they'd essentially be guaranteed results since I was the originator of the product concept. How much did they lose in the end? in sales? in clout with the buyer?

 

I've also managed overseas firms for clients, so I've seen this from that perspective as well. There's nothing like seeing the cultural disconnect between a client in NYC and the team they hired without my input in Peru or Macedonia.

 

So I'm perfectly fine with the global marketplace; have been dealing with it for years now. If anything, the worst is past, afaic: labor rates have been going up in Asia (though it remains to be seen how the current global situation unfolds in this respect).

 

Such anti-competitive tactics where tried in the last 50+ years by GM, Ford and Chrysler against the Japanese automakers. Toyota are now the biggest and most profitable automaker in the world (even considering the economic downturn) whilst "the big three" are facing class 11 bankruptcy.
I never said I was against competition. Quite the opposite, I'm happy to compete with firms from India or China. Thus, calling out Detroit's woes is irrelevant to me.

 

If ID is to survive with a reputation intact or better, improve it...then we must adapt to the changes taking place with intelligence...not simply whine about how everyone else is doing it wrongly
Whine? Who's whining? Did you miss the part where I stated: "Sometimes you pay too much for what you get"?

 

I don't consider discussing the reality of the business to be whining. Personally, I'd have thoroughly appreciated this kind of information when I was a student.

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Guest Buff

Sorry csven if I made that look like I was quoting you I wasnt

I never said I was against competition

 

Anyways. I cant really argue with what your saying here, afterall its perfectly logical.

 

but I think skinny's comments are an interesting observation.

 

Question csven. Did you always chatrge the same rate for your work right from the outset (not including rising inflation ammendmendts to your rate)?

 

I charged my first client nothing for the desing of his product in exchange for 50% of his royalties from licencing, worked out good for me in the end. this was a job that ?I did whilst moonlighting and working and going back to school to take a degree

 

My second I charged 30% of my rate in exchange for 40% of his future profits from his business, working out well too luckily

 

My third client I charged 100% of my target rate and took a bonus on the number of units sold (working out exceptionally well) I also got further work from this, by adding value and handling the manufactuing supply chain.

 

My fourth client I charged 40% more than my originally targeted rate

 

Basically as my REAL portfolio developed and product made it onto the shelves, I charged more as I became more credible.

 

I still do work for my origainal clients, some which really help pay the bills despite only earning the original rate (most jobs are priced as complete project so there is flexibility to get a bettter rate pro rata for the hour)

 

Did I devalue the profession in the begining. Am I still devaluing it?

 

Personally I think the thing that devalues the industry most of all is poor design, where the concept was good, but the execution is terible.

 

Personally, I'd have thoroughly appreciated this kind of information when I was a student.

 

That's why I belive this is a worthwhile debate to open up, even if that means playing devils advocate once in a while ;-)

 

The whole chicken and egg thing

 

Chicken, definately the Chicken... I can proove it :-D

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Guest csven
Maybe in todays market, that means eating crap for a year or working for free for a few months (a post grad internship so to speak) so that you can get a name on that paper first to separate you from the rest. The new employer doesn't need to know that your first job was free or severely underpaid (at least you better not mention it!) So after you have something on the resume to show that someone values you, then you can charge what you're worth. It's a hard situation, any other suggestions?
There are such things as paid internships; even after graduation. Truth is, most unpaid internships are illegal in the U.S.

 

As far as I'm concerned, an "experience" line item on a resume isn't enough. If the portfolio isn't good enough, then some short gig some place won't make enough of a difference. Everyone knows how the "free internship" game is played.

 

Here's a scenario: Let's say you're a recent grad and desperate for that all-important experience line item (on the resume which most designers don't read anyway if your portfolio isn't good enough), so you go begging to make coffee and empty trashcans for Bigshot Designer who thinks the world should be grateful to smell his stinky feet.

 

Now because Bigshot Designer thinks you should be grateful to smell his feet and doesn't think the law applies to him (cuz he's special), he doesn't pay you, and chances are you'll get stuck with menial tasks; you'll play go-fer for the other employees, become a member of team xerox, or maybe get stuck in the shop sanding cancer-causing foam without a proper mask (because you have to "pay your dues", just like Bigsh ... well ... okay... Bigshot Designer didn't have to pay any dues, but it's tradition).

 

Three months is over, college is starting, and the new senior class is looking for Fall internships; among them are some young hotties that Bigshot Designer thinks would make great ... interns. Before you know it, you're shown the door so some fresh young thing can take your place (and btw, don't violate that NDA or the Non-Compete Agreement or you'll never work in this industry, kid).

 

So now you've got nothing to show but a line on your resume (which, if you're good, designers won't read anyway because they're too busy looking at the samples you sent). You go looking for that entry level job thinking, "Wow, I can point out Bigshot Designer's name on my resume and I'm sure to get a job." Except that entry-level job you were hoping to get has been filled by ... another unpaid intern looking for an experience line item.

 

Rinse and repeat.

 

Question csven. Did you always chatrge the same rate for your work right from the outset (not including rising inflation ammendmendts to your rate)?
More or less, yes. Starting out I made the mistake of placing more value on my CAD abilities than on my design abilities. I simply inverted the fee structure. And to keep my fees relatively consistent I relocated to where my overhead was lower.

 

I still do work for my origainal clients, some which really help pay the bills despite only earning the original rate (most jobs are priced as complete project so there is flexibility to get a bettter rate pro rata for the hour).
I'd say your pro rata comment applies in that if you're charging the same project fee but putting in fewer hours because your skills have improved, than you're coming out ahead and not devaluing anything.

 

Did I devalue the profession in the begining. Am I still devaluing it?
I don't see how charging lower rates because you had less experience leads you to ask that question. Nor do I follow how you believe you're still devaluing it by charging the same project fee but operating at a level such that the same output should take you less time, thus raising your hourly rate.

 

More importantly, the issue isn't whether a variation in rates devalues the profession. It's not even whether or not devaluing the profession is bad; because I don't believe it is. Sometimes design firms charge too much and there's a legitimate backlash to bring fees in line with the broader market. I don't take issue with that kind of devaluation.

 

The issue is whether working without any compensation devalues the profession in an inappropriate fashion. As far as I'm concerned, the answer to that is "Yes". And I don't have to argue that point because the law makes the argument for me. In much of the U.S. at least, if a for-profit business doesn't comply with some strict guidelines, not paying interns/workers is illegal.

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Guest Buff

Thanks csven. I really think your last post above, gives real clarity about the differant circumstances that exist in the ID industry and where the devaluation takes place and how that's differant from scaling your business up/down according to skills.

 

Afterall, when I started doing coontract work out 11 or 12 years ago , I didnt have the same equipment, experiance, skills credentials I have now... and I'm still learning I might add.

 

Actually when I changed from freelance/contractor type of working was the point I started to charge much more. initially my overhead saw me make less than before, but like you, I adapted and moved to a lower overhead base.

 

That allowed more money in the pot for me to pay decent people a proper wage.

 

I will be looking myself for an "intern" this year to help out on a larger contract, but I would actually be put off by someone who offers their time for free. Personally I think it devalues them, and it insults me.

 

What I would be looking for though isn't great concepts, though it helps. What I really NEED and my clients need, is someone who understands that what they are conceptualizing needs eventually be manufactured, and I would want to see evidence that this has been considered in great detail.

 

I can pay an artist to draw me pretty pictures, but I need someone who understands the WHOLE procsees of putting product onto the supermarket shelves.... and that is truly WORTH something

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Guest csven

About ten years ago there was a really good article about not paying interns in, I think, Architectural Digest. Wish I had it, because much of what it said applied to industrial design.

 

Like you, I couldn't ask someone to work for me and not pay them. Legal or not, I consider it unethical.

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Guest amoncur

Between $50 and $85 is what I find the going rate to be for freelancers/contract designers in my region (Arizona).

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