Freelancer tips for Client Questionnaire

As some of you may know I am one of the students in class that is on their final stretch of the course(Leslie SmithSteven Ruiz, and myself) and I am working on my client project so after doing tons of research online I came to the conclusion that I need a very extensive questionnaire to properly determine whether or not a Potential Lead can become a Qualified prospect.

Overview: Stages of the sales funnel and how I use it

Lead (Suspect): A lead (also known as a suspect) is someone you have not spoken to. But if a lead appears similar in profile to your target customer, you may decide that they are worth pursuing. Track your most fruitful sources of leads (that is, leads that become customers).

What do Leads look like pertaining to my business?                                             I consider users that have found themselves landing on my site to be potential leads because I feel that action shows the interest they have in my services

Prospect: A prospect has confirmed interest in your offering. You have had a conversation, provided the person with information about what you do, and both of you have agreed to a next step in the sales process.

How do I determine if someone is a Prospect?

I consider someone as a prospect when they have submitted their information through my contact form on my website.

Qualified prospect: Qualification is the most critical and demanding stage of the sales funnel. In the qualification process, you verify that the prospect has a need for your product, that the prospect sees value in your offering, that there is sufficient budget for a deal, that you have access to the decision-maker, and that there is an agreed-upon timeline for the sales process.

But how do you determine if they Qualify?

Once they submit the contact form I will email them my questionnaire to help me determine wether or not I want to take them on as a client.

So if they don’t qualify you will just turn them down?! Are you crazy? Why?!

Yes, no. I do so because if they prove to be ecstatic about getting a new website but have no plan that tells me they are not serious about the need or have no clue what they want.

But, but why? Why if you can just go speak with them, maybe they were just confused at the time, you can help them along the way, after all you do need the money!

TIME. There is no sense in me jumping at every chance I get to make a website for someone when it can equal to:

  1. Pointless hand-holding them through the process of the web design process.
  2. Practically help them develop a business plan for their company.
  3. Loss of better opportunities.

Committed: Ideally, you want to close the deal when all red flags have been dealt with. In reality, most deals close while critical red flags still exist. At this point, you have provided the customer with a proposal that outlines key contractual terms. When a customer has agreed to move forward with a deal, they are “committed” (also known as “verbal commitment” or “verbal”). What remains is to work out the details of the contract, delivery and payment, all of which have the potential to“undo” the commitment. The commitment may be offered contingent upon certain terms being met.

How do you know if they are committed?

If they qualify I would proceed to meet with the client to review the questionnaire, discuss what they want in terms of design, what they have, what they would have to deliver to me, what is expected for me to do, and they will leave with a quote.

After the meeting I will compose a proposal and email it to them along with an invoice.

And if they approve that is when I move on to creating a contract.

Transacted: A sale has transpired when a contract is signed by both parties.

After the contract I will give the client a checklist of what they have to provide for me to finish the site.

My Questionnaire

(the link to my questionnaire is now broken if you want to see it ask me to send it to you)

As you can see my qualification questionnaire plays a huge role in my sales process, I am very new to this and I do expect a lot of trial and error experimenting before I fully resolve my bottlenecks to make my process more efficient.

My purpose for writing this article is for you to start thinking about how you will tailor yours to meet your specific needs. To help you out I provided some links below to sample questionnaires.

Also I used Google Forms to compose my questionnaire and the nifty thing about it is that allows you to:

  • Q&A, your way– Choose from a bunch of question options, from multiple choice to dropdowns to a linear scale. Add images and YouTube videos, or get fancy with page branching and question skip logic.
  • Organized & analyzed- Responses to your surveys are neatly and automatically collected in Forms, with real time response info and charts. Or, take your data further by viewing it all in Sheets.

Before and during this section of this course I advise you to start thinking of how you plan on charging clients luckily I have a previous post somewhat related to that topic Click Here!!! to read How to Set a Value for Your Design Work.

Advertisements

My experience at WordCamp Orlando 2015

WordCamp Orlando 2015 was an AMAZING experience for me I volunteered as a greeter and floating happiness helper and participated in the setup and breakdown of the event. I felt it was a great opportunity for me as a web development student as I got to meet new people, network, make connections and learn so much from fellow developers and WordPress Wizards. Today I am going to share with you an overview of the sessions I attended along with my key takeaways and some of the slides the speakers provided.

Day 01: Workshops

I kicked off day one helping set up rooms but mainly I was greeting people at the registration table and handing out “swag bags”, maps and giving directions.  Thankfully everyone there was very friendly and you really felt the sense of community.

Each workshop consisted of 3hrs of lessons.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Nile Flores, Chris Edwards

Now for those of you who know me (like my classmates) I am an SEO fanatic so of course I would attend this workshop over others. Unfortunately I didn’t take much notes but here is an overview of what was to be covered from the WordCamp Orlando website:

SEO, short for search engine optimization, can be a headache for the new website owner. Terms like focus keyword, header tags, user experience, website page load, Google Search Console, and more, can be overwhelming.

Our workshop will go over the basics of SEO, specifically best practices, in order to take away those headaches.

If you’re a beginner, or still need to learn a solid foundation on SEO basics, this this is the workshop for you. This workshop is intended to lead up to the Content Creation course so you can be fully prepared to put your best foot forward for your visitors, and on Google search.

– WordCamp Orlando

Slides

Content Production

Jennifer CoxAngelica Yarde, Andrea La-Rosa

Overview:

Creating content for your WordPress site can seem overwhelming but with the proper tools, it can be easy and effective. In this session, we will be offering an overview of how to create effective content for SEO and marketing, how to do it consistently to avoid burnout, and how to make your content work for you. We will also be sharing the tools we use for content production.

This three-hour workshop will be a hands-on learning experience so be sure to bring your laptop. We also encourage you to complete the SEO workshop prior to this workshop as we will sharing how to create search engine optimized content. This workshop is great for beginner users who need help understanding how effective content can be to their site or to the intermediate level user who wants to know how to overcome the content production battle. We look forward helping you find the ease in content production. – WordCamp Orlando

Key takeaways:

GOM

  • Genertate
  • Organize
  • Maximize

Andrea La-Rosa Slide,  Angelica Yarde Slide

Day 02:

Teaching Your clients to use WordPress

Nile Flores

Overview:

You’ve probably seen it happen- someone complains because they just got a website, but they don’t know how to use it. Their designer or developer or project manager just left them high and dry without some type of direction or documentation.

Let’s face it, as a designer or developer or project manager, you’re definitely going to run into someone who isn’t really that familiar with WordPress. In fact, you’ll encounter all sorts of user levels when it comes to working with clients. How do you teach your client how to use their WordPress website? How do you figure it into your project’s scope? If you don’t like teaching them, what can you do to make sure your relationship with your client ends on a good note because you were diligent to give them the tools they need to continue on their own?

I’ll be going over strategies to help you put together a plan on teaching your clients how to use WordPress. Let’s decrease the frustration together and allow your clients to become enthusiastic WordPress users that are making money.  – WordCamp Orlando

Key Takeaways:

Training is always in proposal

slides

Live Streaming on a WP site

Bess Auer

Overview:

Video and in particularly live streaming allows you to instantly connect with your audience in a real-time way. Thanks to the ease of using ready-made platforms like Livestream and Ustream, and now apps like Periscope, Meerkat, and Nomadcast, utilizing this media on your WordPress site is easier and more effective than ever. Bess will cover not only the technology and must-have hardware for live streaming, but also the most effective streaming platforms and website considerations you must decide when utilizing this exciting content. – WordCamp Orlando

Slides

Five Events In The Life Of Every WordPress Request You Should Know

Josh Pollock

Overview:

WordPress is a magical system that turns any URL into a web page, dynamically. In this talk, aimed at beginning wizards, looking to develop new WordPress powers, we’re going to take a look at five major events in the transformation of a request to your site, into a web page.

This talk is for new plugin developers, or those looking to increase their skills in the art of custom site development. It is designed to show you where to look when you need to change WordPress’ behavior to fit your specific needs and increase your ability to make use of WordPress hooks. – WordCamp Orlando

Slides

Repurposing Your Blog Posts: How to Save Time byExtending the Life of Your Content

Andrea La-Rosa

Overview:

Blogging burnout is a real thing: it can be creatively exhausting to come up with 5 or 10 new pieces of content week after week. In this panel, you’ll learn how to identify your blog’s best existing content, then quickly repurpose it into a YouTube, series of posts, email course, eBook, infographic, slide show and more – leaving you less time coming up with new things to write, and more time to market the great content you already have. – WordCamp Orlando

slides

Day 03:

When Giving It Away is a Mistake 15 Years of Lessons Learned About Being Too Nice

Scott Mann

Overview:

Scott comes from a long line of business owners that drove their businesses into the ground by being too nice. He spent 5 years not charging enough and 10 years doing favors that were never returned. He’s here to share some of his hard-knocks tips and tactics on staying nice but earning what you deserve and leveling up your business. – WordCamp Orlando

slides

WordPress Growth Hacks

Chris Lawson

Overview:

WordPress’ extensibility not only allows for additional features, but also the ability to grow your user base rapidly. We will discuss many ‘growth hacks” available through plugins and coded functionality.

Growth Hacking is more than just marketing; it is the narrow focus of growing your user base (rapidly) through optimizing how they got to your site, the user experience funnel while they are there, and how you keep them active. Through a series of systems, processes, and mindsets, you can continually experiment with different growth hacks to see which ones grow and convert your visitors, email list, or customers. – WordCamp Orlando

Slides

Google Analytics

Mike Hansen

Overview:

Having a website is a great, but if you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t, are you getting the most out of your site? Mike Hansen’s presentation will review the Google Analytics dashboard and describe how best to use it, as well as create a list of things to do right now to improve your data like setting up site search, custom filters to remove common spam referrers, setup goals and automating your reports. – WordCamp Orlando

Work Smarter not Harder: WordPress for the Average Business

Tim Sisson

Overview:

We’ll be looking at how the average business owner can launch a WordPress website in minimal time. Let’s face it, we all want to spend more time on our business and less time on a website. Learn how you can maximize what WordPress does for your business and how that leads to more time cultivating revenue.  – WordCamp Orlando

WordPress for Everyone: Case Studies for Non-Profits, Education, and Bloggers

Angelica Yarde

Overview:

Are you unsure if WordPress is the platform for you or your business?. From a range of topics from themes, plugins, custom-builds, e-commerce, and more, I will share three case studies of how I’ve used WordPress in different ways to centralize three different brands online. The case studies covered here will share how WordPress can be beneficial to almost any business.  – WordCamp Orlando

slides

 

How to make a simple contact form using php

Overview:

You are going to learn how to  make a simple functional contact form in php; however, I will not be going into detail with the CSS.

HTML Markup

In order to begin you will need a  at least the basic html for the form. For this example we will be using the following markup:

<form>

<label>Name</label>                                                                             <input name=”name” placeholder=”Type Here”>

<label>Email</label>                                                                               <input name=”email” type=”email” placeholder=”Type Here”>

<label>Message</label>                                                                   <textarea name=”message” placeholder=”Type Here”></textarea>

<input id=”submit” name=”submit” type=”submit” value=”Submit”>

</form>

Next we will have to create our php file for this example I will name the file “form_contact.php” before we go any further in the code for this file we need to return to and edit our html.

Now we will need to define the action, method and name for our form. The action attribute specifies where to send the form-data when a form is submitted in this case we would put “form_contact.php” *Make sure that the action is spelt the same exact way as the name of your php file.The method attribute specifies how to send form-data (the form-data is sent to the page specified in the action attribute). The method attribute has two ways to send form-data (get,post), get is the default, appends the form-data to the URL in name/value pairs: (URL?name=value&name=value). Where post sends the form-data as an HTTP post transaction. We need to use post value. And finally we will give it at name of “contact_form”.  When you are done it will look something like this:

<form action="form_process.php"  method="post"name="contact_form">

 

Define PHP Variables

Finally, we can get started working on our php code. Insert the php tag which is we will input our code in place of the ellipsis(…). First we have to set our variables to do so we begin with a $ symbol followed by whatever name fits the input so we (the developer can understand what it is equal to. For example our first input is for the user’s name however you will see separate input boxes for first and last names so here are some of the possible variations you may or may not use:

  • $first_name
  • $last_name
  • $full_name
  • $name
  • $from

For my website I went for the $from variable name for the users full name. Now what you would do is set the variable equal to a $_POST array. $_POST is an array of variables passed to the current script via the HTTP POST method.  The array is the value we are giving the variable and that is the name we gave each input. Our first three variables should look like this:

$from = $_POST[‘name’];
$email = $_POST[’email’];

 

Required Variables

“$message” Defines the message to be sent but unlike “$to” and “$subject” we have to post it and use the name we gave the input within brackets and surrounded by single quotes (‘)

$message = $_POST[‘message’];


Also, we have to define what email we want the contact form to send to. Same as before we have to begin with $ but we call it “to” this time and make it equal to the email you want to access the form at – “$to”.

$to = “youremail@email.com”;


Add a “$subject” variable so you can know what the message is about or to know where or which contact form it came from

$subject = “New Message”;


 

Create a mail() Function

The mail() function allows you to send emails directly from a script. Mail function syntax: mail(to,subject,message,headers,parameters);

to: Required. Specifies the receiver / receivers of the email.                       subject: Required. Specifies the subject of the email.                                       message: Required. Defines the message to be sent.                                       headers: Optional. Specifies additional headers, like From, Cc, and Bcc.       parameters: Optional. Specifies an additional parameter to the sendmail program.

Instead of using the headers and parameters in our syntax we will use a concatenation to define the header of our message. we do this by writing a string “From: ” (be sure to include a space after the 🙂 and then adding a period to add our $from variable to the concatenation.  Our function should look like this:

mail ($to, $subject, $message, “From: ” . $from);

After the mail function you can add an echo to display whatever you want but I went with “Your Message has been Sent”.

Your php should look somewhat like this:

<?php
$from = $_POST[‘name’];
$email = $_POST[’email’];
$message = $_POST[‘message’];
$to = “youremail@email.com”;
$subject = “New Message”;

mail ($to, $subject, $message, “From: ” . $from);
echo “Your Message has been Sent.”;

Congratulations you have completed your php form.

Here is a helpful video that goes over what we covered – How to Make a HTML Contact Form with PHP courtesy of our very own Leslie Smith. For more information on php forms and php validation I encourage you to read up more on it at tangledindesign.com , and 1stwebdesigner.com. If you want to read up on forms that use javascript check out these links: formget.com, and onextrapixel.com.

P.S.                                                                                                                                                                                           The PHP we just completed will open a new page with our echo message I really don’t like how that looks, so when I find out how to make a pop out window I will update this post with that how to.

Web 2.0/ 3.0 Exploring the Web

Who first used the phrase “Web 2.0” in the first place?

The term was popularized by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty at the O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 Conference in late 2004, though it was first coined by Darcy DiNucci in 1999.

What is the difference between Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0?

 Web 1.0 can be described as the “Limited” phase of the Web. There was only limited interaction between sites and web users via  flat data such as links (to find related content) and email. It served as an information portal where users passively receive information without being given the opportunity to post reviews, comments, and feedback.

Web 2.0 was the “Social” phase of the Web with interactive data. Web 2.0 facilitates interaction between web users and sites, so it allows users to interact more freely with each other encouraging participation, collaboration, and information sharing

Web 3.0 is the “Semantic” phase of Word Wide Web with dynamic applications, interactive services, and “machine-to-machine” interaction. In Web 3.0, computers can interpret information like humans and intelligently generate and distribute useful content tailored to the needs of users.

Elements of Web 2.0

  • Wikis: Websites that enable users to contribute, collaborate and edit site content. Wikipedia is one of the oldest and best-known wiki-based sites.
  • Nomadicity:  or mobile computing, is the trend of users connecting from wherever they may be. That trend is enabled by the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices in conjunction with readily accessible Wi-Fi networks.
  • Mash-ups: Web pages or applications that integrate complementary elements from two or more sources.

Web 2.0 controversy

Critics of Web 2.0 maintain that it makes it too easy for the average person to affect online content i.e. Wikipedia, which can impact the credibility, ethics and even legality of web content. The extent of data sharing and gathering also raises concerns about privacy and security. Defenders of Web 2.0 point out that these problems have existed ever since the infancy of the medium and that the alternative — widespread censorship based on ill-defined elitism — would be far worse. The final judgment concerning any web content, say the defenders, should be made by end users alone. Web 2.0 reflects evolution in that direction.

The most recent dispute revolving around these issues came about in the form known as the Stop Online Piracy Act  or (SOPA) was a United States bill introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to combat online copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeit goods.

The proposed SOPA law would have targeted websites that let you share stuff—Twitter lets you share links, Facebook photos, YouTube videos, Tumblr cute cat pictures, WordPress anything you want. The copyright folks, led by their lobbyists at MPAA and Comcast NBC, wanted to impose obligations on all these companies that forced them to monitor, edit, and filter content, really screwing up or killing many sites that have acted as platforms for the free expression for the average person.

Protest Against SOPA, PIPA

On January 18, 2012, a series of coordinated protests occurred against two proposed laws in the United States Congress—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Protests were based on concerns that the bills, intended to provide more robust responses to copyright infringement (colloquially known as piracy) arising outside the United States, contained measures that could cause great harm to online freedom of speech, websites, and Internet communities. Protesters also argued that there were insufficient safeguards in place to protect sites based upon user-generated content.

The move to a formal protest was initiated when some websites, including Reddit and the English Wikipedia, considered temporarily closing their content and redirecting users to a message opposing the proposed legislation. Others, such as Google, Mozilla, and Flickr, soon featured protests against the acts. Some shut completely, while others kept some or all of their content accessible. According to protest organizer Fight for the Future, over 115,000 websites joined the internet protest.In addition to the online protests, there were simultaneous physical demonstrations in several U.S. cities, including New York City, San Francisco and Seattle, and separately during December 2011 a mass boycott of then–supporter Go Daddy. The protests were reported globally.

1422921483066444

By January 20, 2012, the political environment regarding both bills had shifted significantly. The bills were removed from further voting, likely to be revised to take into consideration the issues raised. Opposers noted the bills had been “indefinitely postponed” but cautioned they were “not dead” and “would return”.

An unfortunate possibility.

images-1

Wikipedia.org

Sources:

Forbes: On Net Nutrality

Forbes: Ten Reasons The Net Neutrality Victory Is Bigger Than The SOPA Win

Wikipedia: Protests against SOPA and PIPA

Techfreedom.org

Wired.com

Why it is important to invest time into your class blog

The difference between a website and a blog.

Incase you were not made aware a Website is a collection of content called web pages. Unlike a blog, the pages tend to contain static content,  and are not usually organized by date. Whereas a Blog is a series of content (called “posts”) that are usually organized by date with the most recent post showing first. Many blogs also have the posts organized by category for convenient browsing.

Why a Blog better suits the class requirements.

Since the layout of a website normally consists of static pages, when students publish new content the page will appear to  be cluttered, the page will have to continue to expand as the student publishes new assignments, it will be horrible trying to find a specific .

Having a blog; however, is more capable of utilizing the content students are required to publish for class. They have comment forms at the end of every post that allow the readers to give the author feedback and interact with other readers. It will better organize the students content. Blogs are best when you have a topic that compels you to write fresh information on a consistent basis.

Why it is important to maintain and monitor your blog.

Your class blog has a higher purpose than just acting as a way for you to submit assignments  to the teacher. It also serves as a way to gain experience with running a website so you wont be in shock by the end of the program. The weekly blog also helps you get into the habit of writing and how to write in a way that grabs an audience to build traffic.

The point in following your fellow classmate’s blogs .

I know, I know, I know it is hard to find your followers on wordpress but nonetheless it is required to follow each other. Why you ask? because whenever there is a presentation that you like you can find their blog post on their site and follow along, and if you really like it you can reblog it or retweet it. This also teaches us very easily the idea of how to drive traffic to your blog. (If you hate the trouble of finding your followers I recommend bookmarking all of them and putting them in a folder on your browser.)

Verizon tests 10Gbps FiOS

“Verizon says it has tested 10Gbps broadband service with a residential customer in Massachusetts, using new technology that will let its FiOS fiber-to-the-premises network scale up to 80Gbps.

Today, a two-hour high-definition movie takes about 17 minutes to download using Verizon’s popular 75Mbps service, but it takes only eight seconds with 10Gbps,

There’s no word yet on when faster service will be available to customers, but Verizon said it will issue a request for proposals later this year to buy NG-PON2 hardware and software. As the adoption of 4K video content and the explosion of the Internet of Things, with an estimated 25 billion Internet-connected devices expected by 2020, will create demand for higher symmetrical speeds and lower latency for consumers as well.”

-read more on arstechnica.com

Want to be a Credible Online Marketer? Get a Certification!

There aren’t many well known Certifications that are widely respected let alone recognized; however, there is a plethora of certifications available to you if you simply google “SEO certification” but you will quickly realize that you are going to be bombarded by many different types of certifications but, there is no consistent  answer of which one is best to get. Now you are probably thinking to go for the big guns of search Google, bing etc.

So, is there a Google SEO Certification program?

-The short answer is no.
The problem with that is there is no dedicated, single certification offered by either of them. If there isn’t a widely accepted certification for SEO. And you want to be recognized for this experience, What can you do?

Well, can I get training and marketing advice from Google?

-Yes you can!

Whilst you can’t get SEO certifications through google you may get training for there SEO related tools such as Analytics and Adwords which will lead up to a certification in each.

 

Google Analytics and AdWords
Google Analytics and Google AdWords Partner Certification


For SEOs, being Google Analytics and/or AdWords certified continues to be the industry gold standard. It is generally assumed that an SEO cannot be a “pro” without passing one or both of these certifications. SEOs typically take the Analytics test first, while SEMs naturally gravitate to the AdWords test, but both are useful, especially for an SEM.

Most test-takers report learning a great deal from the technically-sophisticated videos, but that the actual exams are full of trick questions on rarely-used features. For the time being, the Analytics certification is only $50 and Google allows one free testing opportunity with Analytics IQ to gauge one’s skill level before taking the notoriously tricky test.

In September 30th 2013 Google changed its Google AdWords Certification process to require test-takers to be associated with a Google Certified Partner agency. Google’s new requirements are as follows:

  1. Best practices: Demonstrate that you’re maximizing your clients’ performance by implementing the recommended best practices in their accounts.
  2. Spend: Show that your agency has a healthy amount of activity by meeting the Spend requirements across your managed accounts. This is generally at least $10,000 in last 60 days
  3. Company profile: Set up and complete your agency’s Partners profile. Meaning that agencies must now set up a Google+ account.

 

The major hurdle is that an agency has to have spent at least $10,000 on AdWords in the last 90 days. This can represent a difficult obstacle to independent PPC providers with combined client adspend of under $3,400 per month.

 

Link: http://www.google.com/analytics/learn/
https://support.google.com/partners/answer/3126965
Cost: To become a Google Certified Partner is now free and it is still $50 for Google Analytics Certification.
Course Length: For Google Analytics, the test is 90 minutes and a person experienced with Google Analytics could possibly do it in 4 hours. A novice will likely need a couple of months to properly prepare. In the case of Google Certified Partner, there are 113 questions on the test with two hours to complete. You must have 85% to pass. It is recommended that one spend at least 25 hours to study for the test.
Format: The courses are online and self-guided.
Good to Know: There are many resources online and in print to help study and pass the exam.


Certification Badges:

 

 

Google also has this Search Engine optimization starter guide you can use to study up.I also recommend getting the Bing version so you can show that you know how to optimize for the two top search engines.

 

Bing Ads
Accredited Solution Provider Certification


While Google AdWords is the search engine powerhouse, Bing/Yahoo still account for between 20-30% of all searches. The good news is that picking up a Bing Ads Accredited Professional certification is a breeze by comparison to Google’s system. It only takes about three days to complete and is completely free.

Link: http://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/courses
Cost: Free.
Course Length: There is a 100 question exam. Self-paced training includes about 6.5 hours of video and about three days to complete.
Format: Online.
Good to Know: The management system is almost identical to AdWords making it easy to manage both campaigns.

Certification Badge:

Larson, Carl. “SEO SEM and Analytics Certifications, the Ultimate List – Seattle Search Network.” Seattle Search Network. N.p., 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 May 2015.

It is my opinion that these are the only certifications you should get otherwise I feel you would be wasting your money on something that isn’t widely recognized as the standard.

How to Set a Value for Your Design Work

Graphic Design: How Much Should You Charge Design Clients

by Roberto Blake

The following article was adapted from one of my favorite essays titled The Dark Art of Pricing by Jessica Hische. Read the original here. 

What follows won’t be anywhere close to a definitive guide, just opinions and words of wisdom on how to avoid doing too much work for too little pay, therefore affecting the rest of us. We’re in charge of assigning value to what we do.

1. Pricing hourly punishes efficiency.

Take this statement with a grain of salt. Hourly pricing can be advantageous in certain circumstances, like when you receive that first email from potential clients and, through their thousand-word introductory essay. You know that there will be many rounds of revision in your future and that over the course of working together you’ll be as much a therapist as a designer. Totaling those 500 hours at whatever your hourly rate is will equal a pretty good pay day.

Pricing any long term design project hourly can be advantageous, as long as you communicate clearly along the way the type of hours you’re putting into the project. Be prepared to forward them every approving email, to itemize every minute spent on the website / book / whatever.

Pricing hourly seems much easier than flat-rate pricing, but because you have to give clients a ballpark full-cost price upfront (the total hours you plan to work x hourly rate), you can end up in a very tough spot if you don’t have a firm grasp on how long it takes you to do things. You’re nearing the halfway point in the project and are already over the total hours you’re contractually committed to. What does this mean? It almost never means that you’re paid double your original fee. Even if you can eke out a little extra money from the client, your hourly rate will look more like the one you were earning at a Diner at age 16.

So once you have a grip on your work flow and become more and more efficient, hourly pricing makes perfect sense, right? You know how long it will take you to do something, you price for it, everyone is happy.

This is a half-truth. I’ll paint a picture as to why this is a flawed pricing model:


   Two designers are hired to produce posters for a music festival. Both have the same hourly rate of $100 per hour (a reasonable rate for someone who’s been in the biz for a few years and has a few accolades under their belt), but one designer works much faster than the other. Both are equally talented, but one is far more efficient. At the end of the job, the designers turn in their invoices—he worked on it for a total of 18 hours and she a total of seven hours. He is paid a respectable fee of $1,800 and she $700 for producing the same result.


Your rational mind says “Well, he did work more hours than her…” but part of you knows that this isn’t completely fair. This becomes clearer when working for big name clients.

“It is up to you to determine how much people value your talent.”

Here’s another scenario:


You’re hired to do a monogram for a giant international company. They’ll want to use this monogram on everything from price tags to billboards to TV spots and they want to use it forever (in perpetuity until the sun explodes). They have a pretty clear idea of what they want and you know that it will take about 10 hours total with the initial exploration, back and forth revisions, and finalizing. Even if your hourly rate is $250 / hour (a pretty high rate), the total you’re earning for that logo is $2,500.


That is not a good price for a professional designer to earn crafting what is essentially a logo for a huge company. So if you aren’t pricing hourly, how DO you price?

“You own the rights to anything you create, which is why it’s incredibly important to read every contract for every job.”

2. Licensing and Rights-Management

Most designers take into account the hours they’ll put into a project when coming up with a price, but the seasoned professionals use it as part of the way they quote a project, and not as the only defining factor. Once you feel comfortable with your hourly rate and can somewhat accurately predict how long it will take you to do something, you have to consider a few other things that will boost your prices and turn this design hobby of yours into an actual sustainable career.

As a designer, you will hear the term “rights-management.” How does rights-management apply to a designer or illustrator? Photographers aren’t the only ones able to manage the rights of their work. You inherently own the rights to anything you create, this is why it’s incredibly important to read every contract for every job. Often times clients want more rights than what they are willing to pay for—the biggest red flag word being “work for hire.” This means that the client owns all the rights to anything you create for them. They essentially, legally, become the author of your work.

BRAND IDENTITY -How a business wants a brand’s name, communication style, logo and other visual elements to be perceived by consumers. The components of the brand are created by the business itself, making brand identity the way in which a business wants consumers to perceive its brands, not necessarily how it is actually perceived.

Rights management usually comes into play is in the context of identity work, and this is why logos are priced the way they are. It’s understood that the clients will need the rights to the mark you create so that they can trademark it and use it on unlimited applications, so when pricing for a logo you should take that into account. In addition to a fair hourly rate, clients pay for the rights to use that logo in an unlimited capacity.

Aside from giving away all the rights to your work for an additional (hopefully ginormous) fee, you can give them away for limited periods of time or for limited applications by licensing work to clients. There are fewer ways to do this as a graphic designer, but licensing is an incredibly (incredibly!) important part of being an illustrator or letterer. Of the couple hundred client projects I’ve done over the past few years, very few of them have required a full buyout of all rights, and the ones that have required them paid my rent for the better part of a year. Here are some factors that go into pricing a job based on licensing:

  • How long does the client want to license the artwork for? One month? One year? Two years? Five years? In perpetuity?
  • In what context is the artwork going to be used? Do they have the rights to use it on anything? In print only? Web only? Broadcast? Tattooed on their faces?
  • If the job is reprinted, will there be an additional fee for a reprint?
  • Do they want an unlimited license or do they need to own the rights?
  • Are these rights transferrable if the company is sold?
  • What kind of company is it? Is it for a Mom-and-Pop business, a multi-billion dollar corporation or something in between?

This is some complicated stuff, right? Maybe, but this is how you can actually make a living doing illustration and design and maybe even eventually quit your but-they-give-me-health-insurance barista job. What follows is a fictional pricing example to show how powerful licensing can be. I’m going to write it in the context of lettering, which is priced essentially the same as illustration. Graphic designers should still pay attention though, because when I talk about buyout pricing, that’s essentially what you’re going to be thinking about when pricing logos. My price points will be higher than what a fresh-faced n00b can probably charge, but should at least illustrate how much of an impact licensing can have on the cost of artwork.

3. The Correspondence

Dear Ms. Hische,
I’m an art director at Awesome Agency Inc, working on a campaign for an international clothing brand (on par with The Gap) and am writing to gauge your interest in creating artwork for us. We need one five-word phrase illustrated in a script style. The artwork should be highly illustrative, attached are some examples of work you and others have done that are in the ballpark of what we want for the campaign. If this sounds appealing to you, please send us a quote by end of day tomorrow so that we can present your work, along with a few others we are gathering quotes from, to the client. Thanks so much and look forward to working with you!
Sincerely,
Arthur Director

They didn’t give me much to go on here aside from the actual work I’m creating. It sounds like a cool job, but I’m going to need to do some investigating before giving a proper quote. The biggest young designer mistake here would be to quote a flat fee without finding out what kind of usage rights they want.

Thanks so much for thinking of me Arthur! I’ll put together a quote this afternoon. Do you want me to price for every usage scenario or do you have some specific uses in mind?

All the best,
Jessica

Usually here they’d write back with some very, very specific uses in mind, which makes it a bit easier to quote, but sometimes you’ll get a letter that looks something like this:

Hi Jessica,
Great to hear back from you! We’re still in the exploratory stages of the project, so we can’t give specific usage situations yet. Please quote for creation of artwork for presentation only and for a few ballpark usages.
Arthur

4. What We Know

  • This is for a big international clothing company.
  • They are gathering prices from a few different people. They’ll present several artists to the client, who will chose based on style or lowest price depending on what the client’s priority is.
  • They want a price for presentation only. This means you create the artwork and they only have the right to show it around in-house and to the client, NOT to use it in any way for their campaign.
  • They want a number of usage scenarios.This is on top of that initial creation / presentation fee.

5. Pricing for Presentation

If you’ve done any editorial illustration work (magazines and newspapers), you know that the rates are pretty standard across the board: $250 to $500 for a spot illustration, $500 to $750 for a half page, $1,000 to $1,500 for a full page, $2,000 to $3,000 for a full spread, $1,500 to $3,500 for a cover. These are all pretty normal prices and there are of course magazines that pay higher or lower. I tend to start with these prices in mind when thinking about pricing for “Presentation Only.”

They want a five-word phrase that is highly illustrative, which equates to “a full page illustration” or so. Because this is for advertising and not editorial, adjust your rates depending on the client. This is for a big company, so my presentation-only fee might be somewhere around the $5,000 to $7,000 mark depending on how complicated what they’re after actually is. If this were for a smaller company, the presentation-only fee might be closer to $2,500 or $3,500.

“Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about pricing?”

6. Sample Usage Scenarios

If a client doesn’t tell you specifically what usage rights they need, you should make sure there is a good range represented. In this situation, I’m definitely going to price based on the length of time they need it, plus some general examples of what context the artwork will be used in. When you send your quote, it should be broken down as clearly as possible so there is no confusion as to what the clients are paying for in each stage of rights licensing. This would be the quote I would send back:

Hi Arthur,
Below are a few sample quotes for the project. As I did not have much info about what usage rights you needed, we would need to talk specifically about anything not mentioned below once the client has a clearer picture of what they need.


Presentation Only: $7,000
Two to three initial pencil sketches shown, one chosen to be created as final art. After final artwork is presented, the client may request up to two rounds of minor revision. Additional revisions after this point will be billed at $250/hour. If the client chooses to not move forward after pencils are presented, a kill fee of $3,500 will be paid for completion of sketches. If artwork is completed to final, the full fee will be paid.

Usage Scenario 1: +$5,000
The client may use the artwork in magazine and newspaper ads (domestic and international) for a period of one year.

Usage Scenario 2: +$7,500
The client may use the artwork in all print media (domestic and international) including but not limited to magazines, newspapers, point-of-purchase displays, posters, and billboards for a period of one year.

Usage Scenario 3: +$10,000
The client may use the artwork in all print and online media for a period of one year.

Usage Scenario 4: +$14,000
The client may use the artwork in all print media, all online media, and broadcast media for a period of one year.

Buyout: +$25,000
The client may use the artwork in all media including print, online, and broadcast in perpetuity.


 

Thanks so much for thinking of me for the project, let me know how these numbers go over and if you need any clarification about the different usage points.

All the best
J

So this is a pretty basic breakdown, but it gives the agency/client a lot of price points to consider. If I wanted to break it down even further, I would price based on two-year and five-year use and give different prices for U.S. only, North America only, etc. Most importantly, note that all of the usage scenarios are on top of our original presentation only / artwork creation price. The prices are not cumulative in this example quote, so each +$ is only added to the presentation fee. The top price in this scenario is $32,000. These prices might seem completely outrageous to you, but they’re actually pretty reasonable when we take into effect who the clients are and what kind of rights they’ll probably need. If you’re an up-and-comer, your prices might be a bit lower but the percentage markup should remain about the same. Imagine if we had priced this hourly!

If the clients say, ‘These numbers look great!’ it probably means your prices are too low.

7. How do you know if you priced right?

If the clients write back immediately and say, “These numbers look great! We’ll send along a contract for you to go over in a few days!It probably means your prices are too low. If they write back and try to negotiate you down a little bit, you were probably pretty spot on, and if they write back and say that this is well beyond their budget, you get to decide whether or not you want to figure out a way to work within their budget or whether you want to walk away and take one for the team. When you’re offered a very low budget by a very huge client, you can always feel good about turning it down knowing that you are helping to raise the standards of pricing for others.

8. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about pricing?

There are a lot of reasons why designers and illustrators are reluctant to talk about pricing, the most obvious being that no one wants to shout their annual income to the masses. Once you start giving away your general prices, it’s not incredibly difficult to add things up and figure out a ballpark of what an individual or company makes in a year. A personal note: don’t assume that the pricing structure above means that I’m swimming in a pile of money. My half-retired dentist father still makes more than I do. The fake job I used as an example above is an advertising job, and I used it as an example because pricing for advertising is one of the darkest arts of all. There are wild differences in pricing from presentation to buyout, and a ton of factors that affect the price. It’s great to surround yourself with friends or more experienced designers that can help you price a job. You can always consult The GAG’s Ethical Guide for Pricing, but definitely use it for ballparking more than definitive numbers.

9. The Pricing Domino Effect

It’s incredibly important for even young designers to always quote respectable prices. It can be very tempting to create artwork for a “cool” company for very little pay and the promise of insane exposure/ an incredible portfolio piece. Every successful designer and illustrator has at one point succumbed to the siren song of the “cool” industries (there are a few “cool” companies that don’t try to take advantage of designers but they are the exception and not the norm). When you are starting your career as a freelancer, it will be incredibly tempting to take on any work that comes along, no matter how unfairly companies are trying to compensate you. Remember that you are talented and that your talent has value and that ultimately it is up to you to determine how much people value your talent. By helping keep pricing standards high, you not only help yourself by avoiding the title of “The Poor Man’s Marian Bantjes” (essentially the creative equivalent of a knock-off handbag), you also help every other young designer struggling to get paid out there, and help every designer that came before you to continue making a living doing what they love.

This article was adapted from an essay titled The Dark Art of Pricing by Jessica Hische. Read the original here.

How to Get Experience and Move Up in the Web Development Field

Whenever you are applying for a job the main thing employers want is Experience. To gain experience there are a few things you can do.

  1. Network

     Meetup-Logo-1-med1-300x220

    It is very important to network with others in your field. By doing so you can meet with people who have been in the business longer than you  and learn form them. To do this search for local groups who meet to discuss Web Development and matters pertaining to  specific categories within web development such as coding, design and marketing. A great website for this is meetup.com you can look up groups in your area. Here is a short clip explaining meetup.com. Maybe you can meet someone who likes your work and could offer you a job or internship.

  2. Search for Internships

     internships_horiz_72dpi

    Internships with agencies is the best way to gain the experience you need that you can put on paper (your resume) a website i found that can help you find an internship is Internships.com. I really like the layout and the search results will show you wether the internship is paid, full-time, part-time.

How You can Prepare for a Successful Pre-launch Campaign on Twitter

Promote Your Product on Social Media

Establish a Pre-Launch Buzz Through Twitter

Twitter is great for a self-published author who wants to market their product

   1. Tweet Teasers

   Tweeting short quotes from your book is an easy way to promote your book while adding value to your product and brand.

DO NOT OUTRIGHT ASK PEOPLE TO BUY YOUR BOOK- you will quickly lose followers

   2. To Reach a Bigger Audience Use Hashtags

Use hashtags when you tweet about your book so that if you are retweeted your message or brand can spread out

   3. If You Must Mention Your Book Put it in Your Bio

By putting it in your bio so that those who like what you say can view your profile will see you have a book

   4. Hit Them in the Feels

You should use more verbs and less nouns in your tweets because we as people are drawn to action through our emotions.

   5. Tweet at the Right Time to Reach More People

  • Tweet closer to the weekend. Towards the end of the week twitter traffic soars.
  • Tweet in the Afternoon and Evening. This is around the time twitter has the most activity in a day.
  • Spread Tweets out by at least once an Hour to get the most people possible to see them.

   6. Ask for the Retweet- People are far more likely to retweet if you just simply ask them

Some of these methods may also apply to other social media sites. For more information on Social Media Optimization visit my sources blog.bookbaby.combusiness.tutsplus.comblog.hubspot.com.