31 July 2006

What's the Lowest Price?

by Mark Monlux

Dear Mark,
There is no question in my mind that I should not sell myself or my fellow artists short, but I don't make any real money at the jobs I'm currently holding, and I could really use the money right now.

So, when something comes my way I am tempted to consider the gig and possible compromises in pay because I'm not really far off when I goof around about being a starving artist. Not to get too personal, but if it wasn't for my wife and her paycheck I don't think I could make rent anywhere on what I earn.

This is why I come to you smart people for wisdom ... and an idea of what actual (or best figure possible) price I should ask the few times I've been contacted to do work like this. I know that I'll learn in time and it'll become second nature to me, as it did with you I'm sure.

So, I suppose that what I'm asking for (and I do feel very amateur asking) is some sort of "don't go any lower than this" price to ask for, an idea of what I should want/ask for regarding the renegotiating of the rights.

Signed,
Struggling


Dear Struggling,
I can tell you not to go lower than the prices inside the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guideline Handbook. Those are real prices from projects that were work on and completed by designers in the industry. Because of FTC collusion laws, neither I, nor the Guild, can tell you what I think a price should be, I could be fined or get 4 years.

But, what we can do is tell each other the prices we did receive because they are of historic record. And that is what the Guild does to arrive at these figures. They conduct a survey asking for prices on completed projects that fall into the categories provided by the questionnaire. The questionnaire does not ask what the prices should be; only what that person actually invoiced.

And those prices are often compromised figures working stiffs negotiated lower to claim the project. So, the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guideline Handbook (or PEGs as we call it for short) is a filled with prices that were compromises. Anyone looking at those prices and thinking that they are high are really shooting themselves in the foot.

When I look at those prices, it take the knowledge that these were negotiated prices I look to the high range or even add 20% before I consider the initial offer I make to the client.

Because, it is much easier to negotiate down a price than it is to raise a price while negotiating.

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