Share your experiences doing contract work for larger firms... Need help!

h0kie99

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 31, 2004
82
0
VA
I work for a very very small Internet Consulting company where we mainly sell websites to small companies in our area. We have the ability to play with a lot of functionality because we have access to production centers that can do the things we simply can't do... yet!

We were approached by a large firm who needs contract web design work... mainly graphic work, some flash, and some changes in layout. This could be huge for us. I am assuming their staff is too small to handle the work they need, and they are more interested in hiring some people for contract work rather than hiring more full-time employees. My company has never done this before... we have a conference call with this firm next week and I want to make sure I am as educated as possible about the process.

1. How much should we plan to charge? Per hour? Per day? Per project? How does this work? (We are in Virginia, if that matters... I assume some areas like San Fran or New York are more pricey.)

2. Would we have to go to this firm's office and plant ourselves for awhile, or is this something we do from our own offices?

Please share any experiences you have. Thank you!!!!
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
I did this sort of thing a while back, and so I can't give you really current advice -- especially where dollars are concerned. One thing I'd suggest not doing is figuring you can charge a lot more than you usually do. Charge what you think is reasonable for the work they're asking you to do. I'd recommend against going to their site to do the work -- seems less "professional." You could go to their site for meetings, etc., but it seems better to me to maintain your own corporate identity.

We used to charge more for "consulting" than straight design work. In other words, if they're asking you to come up with an overall Web strategy, or revamp the structure of their Web site, that costs more per hour than just designing new pages, graphics, etc.
 

h0kie99

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 31, 2004
82
0
VA
Thanks for the response. I am guessing that right now they want help with graphics and some layout changes, not to revamp their entire image & website. I was hoping that the norm would be to keep our own offices and do work without having to be at their site... I am just not sure what to charge. I need to do some more research on that. Right now our company charges fees to clients per site, depending on the functionality. Hourly charges are only incurred if there is some sort of maintenance agreement, and usually the client purchases monthly/quarterly agreements anyway. So the hourly thing has me a bit stumped.

Thanks!
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
One thing about "research": a lot of the research we did back in the day turned out to be very unrealistic. I think people tend to overstate how much they really charge for projects. You're right, it's really a sticky issue. I'd suggest simply figuring out what you end up making per hour on a typical job (make sure you include ALL the work you do), then charge about that much. If I had to guess, if your company does a really professional job, I suspect that amount would be somewhere between $30 and $60/hour.
 

h0kie99

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 31, 2004
82
0
VA
What do you think of this...

Is this a good explanation?

"For freelance services, we charge between $45-55 per hour depending on what services you need. For example, if you need Photoshop help with simple graphics, it may be on the lower end. If you need multimedia work or major changes in your layout or text, it will be on the higher end. We will estimate the amount of hours it will take for each project and charge you a flat fee based on our hourly rate. For each project, we include up to 3 changes/revisions. Any changes that are needed after that will be billed hourly based on the same cost determined at the start of the project ($45-55/hr). As new projects come about, we can list the requirements and determine cost for each project individually."

This is a big company and I am sure they've contracted out work before. So I don't want to be too "different" than others they've worked with, but I also want to seem as professional as possible. Adding in a clause about revisions is important because as I've experienced, if the client keeps making changes to the work we've done, it can go on and on forever with no additional cost unless you set it up front.
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
I would be more specific. What is $45 an hour, and what is $55 an hour? Spell it out exactly. So one project might have some work done at $45 an hour and some work done at $55 an hour. This ends up being weird in a small business, because the same person is probably going to be doing all the work, but then at least you get paid more for the hard stuff.

Also, I wouldn't give any freebies. Everything is charged at the hourly rate, even corrections. Hourly is hourly. If they need a single number, you can give an estimate of the total amount of hours, and promise to notify the client if a project is approaching the estimated total hours. Or give weekly updates, or however they want you to do it.

I'd also suggest billing in small-ish chunks. Usually anything over a certain amount (often $1000) will need to be approved by some vice president somewhere (which can take weeks), and you can avoid that by keeping individual bills low. Sometimes clients will specifically ask you to do that.

Edit: I'd also avoid the term "freelance services." Makes you seem like some guy in his underwear working out of the living room. Just say "our hourly rates are...."

Edit2: Here's an idea: why not put a $110/hour "consulting rate" in there as well? Then it'll look like they're getting a good deal when most of what they need is "only" $55/hr. And, if they want to use you for consulting later, they won't stiff you for only $55.
 

WoD

macrumors newbie
Feb 9, 2005
5
0
When I was working for Originalworks we charged about £60 per studio hour. Which basically means £60 for any work done by any person or persons in the studio. There were never very many people - and both the graphics design and developer left after I was employed meaning there was basically just me, the boss, the dogsbody and some random administration people.

After the company liquidated the manager secured a £20,000 contract with Neways with basically just me doing the work again. Fun.

Oh how I wish I had seen a bit more of that cash, I was annoyingly underpaid and working from home was dull so I quit.

Anyway, I would not be surprised at $60+ per studio hour - after all you have several people who need paying!
 

ChicoWeb

macrumors 65816
Aug 16, 2004
1,120
0
California
You rate is based upon what you feel your work is worth. For myself, I charge $50 per hour only because I'm somewhat newer on the scene. I know a lot of the work I do for contractors gets billed out at $125 an hour. Which tells me that given the right sales pitch and market I can get $125 per hour for my design work. If you are in the bay area $50 per hour is nothing.

Bottom line, charge what you feel your work is worth. For my market I try to come in with the highest quality of product at a reasonable price, which is what I feel I do. :)
 

ChicoWeb

macrumors 65816
Aug 16, 2004
1,120
0
California
h0kie99 said:
1. How much should we plan to charge? Per hour? Per day? Per project? How does this work? (We are in Virginia, if that matters... I assume some areas like San Fran or New York are more pricey.)
I would def. charge by the hour if you can. By the project you may end up short changing yourself in the long rong. It only makes sense to get paid for the amount of work you do.
h0kie99 said:
2. Would we have to go to this firm's office and plant ourselves for awhile, or is this something we do from our own offices?

Please share any experiences you have. Thank you!!!!
I would do it from your own office. I only feel comfortable designing on my computer, and in my office. What if they don't have the correct applications, the right stock photos, etc. Everything I need for my work is at my fingertips in my workspace and if I client ever asked me to come work at his office I would say no.
 

varmit

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2003
1,830
0
help with billing if you want to do it by the hour, make a chart for yourself and your team. Such as if they need just HTML done, you can give that job to a low skilled person that only racks up $30 and hour charge to the client (remember, you need to keep tabs on how much work each person does) for the work he does. But if they want images, then the Photoshop guy who has more skills than the low HTML guy can charge $60 and hour for his work.

This is kind of how the business I work for operates, even though we are actually doing back ground checks and not websites. But the senior analysis charges $120 per hour if they are on the case, or me, the IT guy, only brought in if more researchers are needed than what we have, I charge $15 per hour, because I can barly know how do the stuff the senior guys do.

Thats just an idea.

Then agian, how to you charge now, because they might have been turned to you by another company you did work for and they expect the same charging that the smaller company got.
 

chanoc

macrumors 6502
May 20, 2003
339
0
Anchorage, Alaska USA
I thought this thread was going to be originating out of India or China. I had no idea there was Web design work left in the USA. :eek:

The only job I got out of college was for 8.50 an hour doing site redesign for a newspaper and third-party sites we maintained. Today, and for the past year, there are zero jobs in Alaska. Although the University of Alaska says the market is new. :rolleyes:

I have even tried sluting myself out for 12.00 an hour to do a site, or quoting a 200.00 flat fee. Of course, my only skills are XHTML and CSS. I may have to learn Action Scripts for Flash and .Net/Cold Fusion/C# development, like all the few jobs for Web Developers. :(
 
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