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Fee Differences and Question

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  #1  
Old 09-04-2005, 06:24 PM
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RooB RooB is offline
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Fee Differences and Question

I've been reading through a lot of the different threads (new and old) about how much to charge for photographic work (either restoration or editting)-- and I really notice there's a wide gap between people who charge low fees and people who charge high fees. I also notice, there's about equal amount of skill and talent between the people who charge both low and high fees. There's also a few who seem to charge three or four times the amount of what seems to be an average of everyone else. With this in mind, I've been contemplating my own fee lately, and wondering if I'm charging too little.

Personally, I charge $8.50/hr (in Canadian funds). I run a home-based business, and where I live I don't need to register my business unless I'm making a luxurious amount of money, so I can claim it as personal income. Currently, I'm working only locally (I don't take anything outside of my region, almost every household in Newfoundland has dozens of photos from 1800s and 1900s), but still, I'm planning on launching online and expanding my territory across Canada (at least). That doesn't change any of my overhead, aside from a slight cost of yearly web hosting which is fairly inexpensive.

Skillwise, with no formal education to speak of, I've been the artist type my entire life, I've been using graphics software since I was 14 or 15 (now 29) and I'm quite proficient with 2D software and not a bad hand with 3D software. And strangely enough-- I don't have a portfolio. :P I tend to operate solely on word-of-mouth business, someone sees work I've done for someone else and they come runnin' with photographs.

So, my question is (finally, after the spew, heh)-- living in a place where I have literally no business overhead (since I own the computers and software anyway) aside from $120/year for website hosting and the occasional upgrade and purchase of new software-- how much really is a reasonable amount to charge? So, not factoring in costs of running your business, just on personal merit, how much would you charge?
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Old 09-04-2005, 06:35 PM
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Caitlin Caitlin is offline
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Not an educated opinion here - but C$8.50 sounds like peanuts to me. Wouldn't you earn more than that working at McDonalds? Having said that, personally I charge by job rather than per hour. I like to take my time when it suits me, and not burden the client with any unforseen technical problems.
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Old 09-04-2005, 06:47 PM
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RooB RooB is offline
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Nah, people who work at McDonald's only make $5.75CDN/hr here and its nasty shift work.

As for technical problems-- when I come across an issue with a photograph I can't seem to figure out or fix or there's technical difficulty, the client is instantly off the clock until I resolve the issue or learn the process, and then back on the clock while I finish the photograph. I never charge for time that doesn't directly involve the photograph.
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Old 09-05-2005, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caitlin
.....but C$8.50 sounds like peanuts to me.
What is peanuts to one could be gold to another....
BUT
I don't see that being the case in Canada. Working at C$8,50 (US$7,15) here in Brazil, for example, would put you pretty near the tip of the wage piramid, although even here US$10 would be more realistic for quality work.

As I understand it, our friend RooB either:
1) Doesn't need to pay rent, buy a car, support a wife, kids etc.... etc.....
2) Has a "day-time" job which takes care of 1) and is doing retouching as a healthy alternative to watching TV.
In which case anything above $0 is valid.

The other side of the equation is "How much will the customer pay?". This is going to depend on what you do in that 1 hour. If you a good, and fast, then probably you can charge a lot more than you are charging now. If you are slow, get stuck frequently and have trouble satisfying your customers then maybe you'd better stick where you are for a while. the answer to this only you, and your customers, know.

RooB, good luck and all the best,


PS. If anybody wants to pay me US$10 an hour, I'm a taker!!
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Old 09-05-2005, 11:13 AM
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You have opened up a real bag of worms with this one!

If you had a business, then you would know how much it takes for you to run that business on a per hour basis. The costs include such things as rent/lease, utility costs (phone, lights, water, internet, etc), wages for you and your workers, insurance, equipment costs (includes cost new, repair, replacement, software, etc), consumable supplies (ink, paper, etc), PROFIT, and on and on. Hope you get the idea.

Once you add all the above up and divide it by the number of hours your business is open, then you have an idea of how much to charge on a per hour basis in order to maintain all of that.

Now if I understand your post correctly, you already own the computers anyway. SO? The cost of that part of the computer time that you are using for some customers work should be paid for by the customer shouldn't it? If you are not doing that you are surely a nice person just giving the customer something for nothing..... I would hope that if you are making prints you charge the customer for the paper and ink you use, but do you add a little extra for the wear and tear on your printer? Why not?

The idea of charging for equipment time and use of consumable supplies is rather easy to do in comparison to the idea of charging for your skills and training. Look around your community and see what other skilled trades charge for their labor. Just what does a plumber or electrician or mechanic charge for their time? Are your skills less or more than theirs?

And be careful about working part time and thinking that you can only charge low prices because of that. Just because you only work part time doesn't mean that you only use part of your skills.

And the last comment for this long post (I apoligize for that) is that if you start out with very low prices and then decide to try to really make a living at this, you will then need to raise the prices a bunch and that can be a hard thing to do.

Good luck

Mike
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  #6  
Old 09-05-2005, 11:18 AM
Mike Mike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byRo
In which case anything above $0 is valid.

Never have I seen anything that I agree with more than that statement!

My hat is off to you sir! And please be aware that I am going to quote that far and wide

Mike
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Old 09-05-2005, 01:02 PM
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I do have to pay rent (for my apartment), and I do have a girlfriend who lives with me and isn't working right now-- yet the $8.50/hr I make from photograph (and basic computer tech work) pays my home bills and leaves a little extra to continuously upgrade systems and software. The cost of living here, of course, is exceptionally low. As for doing prints, no, I refer people to or use the local Kodak for that since they have far better printing equipment than I could ever invest into and even if I had the equipment, competing against them in price would be *insanely* impossible.

But the question still is-- if you *didn't* have to pay business expenses-- what would you or could you charge?
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Old 09-05-2005, 01:57 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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In my view, lacking some of the typical financial encumbrances would be an opportunity to refuse work at a pay rate below what you can be proud to accept. You need to be proud of what you do, which includes the pride that comes from earning at least the same as the other people doing the same thing that you do.

If you need to put bread on the table, do what you need to do and charge what you need to charge. But if you have that covered, do you really want to get work by being the low bidder?
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Old 09-05-2005, 07:58 PM
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It's not that I want to be the lowest bidder, far from it.

I just don't want to feel like I am charging someone for something just because I can, or because it's what everyone else is charging. I really do like being accessible to those who, normally, would never be able to afford someone to do this kind of work for them-- most people I have worked for locally would never be able to afford a $20/hr rate, not even in Canadian funds.

I do what I do because I love doing it-- money is just icing on a cake I already love, and it's not a motivator for me, as long as I am making enough to live contently, I'm happy.

However, at the same time, I will soon be expanding my territory outside of Newfoundland and I do realize I am quite off center on my rates compared to the average and I am looking to make some self-adjustments toward average, but not to the point where I exclude a local market. And different fees for two different markets would, I feel, be unfair.

So, I'm trying to work out a way to balance the factors; what I can afford to charge, what the local market can afford to pay, what people outside of the local market can afford to pay, and what people would consider the value of the skill itself.

Hence the question, if you could afford to charge based on personal merit alone, what would it be?
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  #10  
Old 09-05-2005, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
Never have I seen anything that I agree with more than that statement!
Oops, just realized that I didn't say if that was US$0 or C$0 - sorry about that!!

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