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Business Models, Studios, Estimating, Invoicing & Budget Management.

Test & Rehearse

GDE730 Week 2

Upon presentation of the week's topic and the workshop challenge to 'quote' for a fictitious brief, I immediately learnt that you should not quote unless you are certain of the precise costs involved with any job you are pricing.  A quote is a legally binding document that cannot be altered.  My husband kindly gave me that gem of information over our Sunday breakfast and preceded to give me lots of advice over the course of the week having been in business himself for nearly 30 years.  I, in contrast, have only ever negotiated my own hourly rate as a supply teacher and have never priced a job, in fact I have never worked as a designer.  I realised, I had no idea how long it takes me to complete various design tasks and am still undecided upon a service or product I could offer.  My about page gave me some idea of a business model and I am sure that I want to work as a Sole Trader, this was a starting point.

To explore methodologies and account handling processes for my personal career interests, I listened to the case studies and began to generate questions to satisfy in exploration of this.  I noted that Theo Inglis had pitched a proposal that was not accepted and moreover he had not charged time for the work involved in compiling this presentation.  I wondered if this was standard practice or not?  It seemed that he felt angry about wasting his time but this turned out to be short sighted as he was subsequently offered two jobs for individuals who had seen his pitch and were moving on from the original client organisation.  Furthermore he found a niche market that he enjoys working within and that has expanded his opportunities beyond design to writing.  Although I don't agree that it is right to pitch for no fee, I can see how this has benefitted him in the long term and it is perhaps something I can consider in order to get my work seen and develop contacts.

I was interested to understand more about a 'collective' approach to business and Lisa Armstrong elaborated on the aims of this type of group.  On the surface it sounds intriguing, that designers can join a collective that has a similar ethos to their own and engage with work that they find interesting.  However I was confused about how this worked in practice when 3-4 people manage a large body of designers, picking from the skills they have to fulfil a clients requirements.  With such a huge range of individuals with differing design sensibilities, it seemed less about placing them on jobs that match those values and more about matching skills to client need.  To me this appeared to be the same model as a design agent.  I questioned whether to be a true collective,  designers within it should share common interests and appreciations.  I have not ruled this out as a potential income stream, but I would probably prefer a more niche collective that would value my skillset and promote those values.   


Reading the 2020 Freelancer Rates Report compiled by YunoJuno, I related to UX/UI Designer, Kate Margolis' quote "secure work where your skill set will be appreciated" (Margolis 2020)  The report went on to give ranges and averages for a host of Freelancer roles, including Designers.  It was interesting to note taht the average length of a project was 32 days and the average day rate stood at £313 (between £250-£350)  I believe I would sit at the bottom end of that scale due to my lack of work experience which would equate to £32 per hour.  I compared this to the figures given by design studio founder Kate Moross who placed the junior team members on £60 per hour.  I realised that this charge rate reflects her location of London and her overheads.  These overheads broken down in more detail this week by Ben in the webinar.  I began to appreciate just how much it costs an employer to hire a member of staff, with national insurance, pension, training etc to account for.  I was also interesting to note that designers charge different rates for level of skill & experience.  One designer can even have more than one rate for different work, which I believe would be relative in part to time & ease to complete.  I think this may be something I need to consider, with a hand crafted graphic textile piece being more skilful to complete than a digital image based pattern design.






























Many discussions on the ideas wall this week revolved around how to deal with client amendment requests and there did not seem to be one set way to cover this potentially spiralling cost.  Some designers being caught in a perpetual cycle of revisions that eventually ate away any profitable gains.  It was wholeheartedly agreed that clients must pay for revisions, particularly those that take longer to action.  Furthermore, if designers demand a deposit at the start of the agreement, this would help to negate any potential losses should you be forced to walk away from a difficult relationship that turned sour over revisions.  I definitely understood the importance of a down payment for services and would add this to my own estimate for this weeks challenge.



















Ideas Wall (My initiated posts can be found here)

Mark and I discuss billable hours and how to break down an estimate to show time on the job. 

Critiquing Ingrid's work, impressed by how she seems to get just the right balance of information for clarity.

Recognising 'value' pricing in Mark's strategy. 

Understanding 'media' value pricing using Ben's reference. 

Crit given to Weronika regarding legibility of figures within text paragraphs. 

Trying to understand how to show 'value added to clients. 

Suggestions for printing provisions.

Crit given to Weronika regarding breakdown of figures

Really impressed with clarity of Olly's timeframe.

Trying to understand if it is acceptable to ask for a deposit and how much one should ask for.

Resolving that clients may not want to be involved in or understand every little aspect of the process and communication over key aspects needs to be concise as 'time is money'!

Workshop Challenge

How do you prepare a quote and accompanying paperwork for a prospective design project or creative initiative of your choosing?

I began this task thinking about the costs I would need to consider when calculating an hourly or daily rate for myself.  Just to cover my running costs and overheads, I calculated a day rate of £220.  After fixing on an idea for a design and make project for a local dental surgery, I then began to look at how I would deliver the final products.  Both products were textile outcomes, one a surface print design and one a bespoke handcrafted wall decoration.  I explored the internet to source prices for materials and fabric print production costs.  I knew I wanted to use organic and sustainable materials as much as possible as part of my business values, so I focused my search on these items.  I added a percentage on the purchase of materials to achieve a retail price.

My next task was tricky because I had never considered my time on a creative task before.  I set about creating a few small hand stitched iterations and timed myself on task.  This enabled me to get a rough timeframe for each of the product design and make.  I used existing experience of hand made cushions to calculate this production time.

There was a range of interesting discussions on the ideas wall about 'value' and 'media value' pricing.  As my products and designs were tangible outcomes the 'media value' based on monetary value per click on social media did not apply, however I was very surprised by the 'value' pricing approach and really felt that this was the way forward for designers to gain more recognition for the work they do.  An article on, discussed the mindset shift needed to use this price model.  A designer should look at the value they bring to the client with the work they produce and question if they are an expense or an investment.  Promoting this point of view with one's clients is surely a good way to enlighten them to your worth.  This could be achieved through a series of carefully crafted questions to the client during discovery. 

In summary, I now felt I had all the information I needed to complete my estimate, which can be seen below. 

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