How Much Do You Charge Your First Client?

One of the most common questions I get asked at Animation Apprentice by students and recent graduates is this: “What should I charge for my first freelance job?”.  First of all – congratulations! You have your first client. Now you have to figure out the scope of the work, and how much to charge.  Generally, at the start of your career, you want to keep your rates as low as possible. Work as cheaply as you can afford to in the beginning, do a good job – and your clients will come back for more. Before you know it, you’ll be building up a portfolio career as a freelance animator.

What to charge?

First, try to find out exactly what the scope of the work is. How much work is involved, and roughly how long will it take? Give the client an estimate based on your best guess of how much work will be involved, and what your daily rate is. Keep your rate low to keep the cost down.

Also, if you need extra technical help from friends and colleagues, you must add this to your calculation, as you may need to pay them. Don’t forget to include the cost of software licenses – the Maya Indie License is very handy for small freelance jobs.

Figure out how long the job will take
The most important thing is to figure out how long the job will take. To do this, you will need to ask your client some questions. The most important questions include: Do you have a budget – if so, roughly how much do you want to spend? Do you have a script? Is there a style of animation you like, and could you show me some examples at YouTube? Also, what is the deadline, what is the final output  and who is the final product for? To see more about this, read this blog post.

Once you know exactly what is involved to bring the job to completion, you will have a better idea of what to charge.

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