The subject of my price range comes up…surprisingly rarely. Publicly that is. I have a feeling there are some who silently share the same sentiment as those who have voiced the opinion that my pro work is steep, so I thought it best to address the topic publicly.
So, why do I charge what I do? First you must know: commissioning, freelance, isn’t a game for me.
It’s not a hobby.
It’s not a side gig.
It’s my LIFE. It’s how I pay my bills, it’s how I eat, It’s how I can get what I need and (once in a while) what I want. Freelance is my bread and butter. If you haven’t noticed by now, that’s why I approach it as a business.
Around 2006, was when I first started seeking freelance work. Thanks to clients (individuals and companies alike), and friends, I’ve learned a lot about my business. The most important lesson I learned was how important it is to charge my worth; not to short change myself. I could go on and on with all the topics that can be discussed about this, but I’ll limit it to my reasons for how I price my Pro services:
In the beginning, I charged based on the hours I thought the piece would take. Not wanting to scare a person off, and wanting to be fair for myself as well, ended up with me charging much less than what I really should. Basically, I would end up settling on the least amount I would theoretically accept. It was only while I was working on a said piece, that I would realize I would of charged more. I found it unprofessional to try and ask for more, so I never even hinted my realization to the client.
Weary of that, I decided to try offering flat-rates.
It’s been a couple of years now, and I must say, Flat-rates work for me. I base it on what I would charge for a mid-point type commission: detailed, but not quite super realistic. That way, I’m able to feel secure in my fairness to the client and myself. True, someone may request something less than what mid-range my flat-rates are based, but I must stay consistent in business practice to maintain balance.
Let’s say a person wanted a character illustration: My flat-rates are generally for clothed characters, but the person wanted a nude piece. If I alter the price, then I’d have to alter the price for each and everyone that comes after them. If I did that, there’ll be no point in having a flat-rate. In a sense, it’ll be like breaking a promise. And like a promise, if it was so easy to break my business ethics, then it wouldn’t be worth very much in the long run. So, the person wants a nude character, but my flat-rates are geared towards clothed characters; I have to do a bit extra to make up for it. If they just want lines, then throw in some free monotone shading. If they want flat color, then throw in some simple shading in there on the house. And if it STILL doesn’t seem to make it “fair” for my moral side, then chop it up for a win towards my business side. In the end, I am confined to the clients’ directions.
So, why do I charge what I do for my Pro freelance? Because it’s how I balance overall fairness between my client and myself, along side the worth of my morals and business ethics: If I’m 100% business, I’d have to sacrifice my personal artistic integrity, and if 100% without a business side, then I’d be destitute. Hence, I compromise. I handle my business model the way I believe is best for me and my client; How another artist may run their own services is none of my concern.
I’m beyond grateful I managed to build a style that folks are willing to pay for; but I will not allow myself to cheapen my worth to satisfy those who don’t believe I’m worth it. To each their own, but maybe someday…my work will brainwash those unbelievers into believers. Until then, please keep the “I wouldn’t pay that much”-type comments to yourself: It’s rude to both my client and myself.
You can discuss whatever you wish, this post is just to share a bit of how I consider one of my services. I’m not trying to say my methods should adapted by every artist. It’s best for ME, and that’s all that counts; again I say, to each their own.