Hourly vs. Contract

Let’s talk about Hourly vs. Contract pay- for example quantifying service in design contracts. Here are a couple articles that I think will help untangle that sticky situation. There’s a ton of really helpful advice out there for designers which I feel can be applied to any artist working on a commission. I googled working freelance, by the job or hourly and found a ton of great stuff for designers.

From Bidsketch -by the way- this blog is an excellent resource for small business and non-profit.

From Career Foundry

From Freelancers Union

From quoterobot – This one is a really good way to see how to figure out your math when getting started. I recommend those of you that make objects for sale vs design use this type of math as well. It’s a good way to separate yourself from the creative act and really figure out what your product is worth.

From Leaving Work Behind

From Benrmatthews – this one is really good because it takes into question how to interact with clients about your rates.

From Creativeline

In all, make sure you have a contract drawn up before you enter into an agreement with any client- even if you are bartering. This keeps things clean and give you a leg to stand on should a client try to get out of your deal.

13 thoughts on “Hourly vs. Contract

  1. I loved the article from the Freelancer Union. I have found that if I do photoshoots for someone that it is helpful to have a simple outline in the contract, but also a more elaborate list of the services they will be getting with their purchase. It pays to be quick so having a base price helps to make sure you make your money.

    Is it good to have flexible packaging and handle each client differently?

    • Great question Anna,
      It is good to have flexible packaging- and to handle each client differently. That said- you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. As you go, you will discover some common varieties- then you can make special kind of “meal deals” that mirror the most frequent type of client.

  2. I have always thought that it would be better for freelancers to charge hourly, however, after the reading it makes more sense to have a fixed price. The fixed price helps to keep yourself on track and does not cloud the claimants judgment about price. What are the best things to include in a contract for freelance art?

  3. I want to be an art teacher, so at this point I’m not sure if I see this post/information as super relevant to me. It was informative and interesting to read about though.

  4. I really like the BidSketch article, especially because it touches upon different methods of pricing perhaps being better suited for different types of freelancing jobs. I also feel that having a fixed price gives you more wiggle room when it comes to the looming threat of boredom. Say you get tired of a commission piece, take a break and maybe start working on a different one. If it was an hourly pricing, I’d feel like I have to work on that one commission piece without working on others at the same time because it would feel similar to having to “clock out” of one job before moving on to the next. It might be a weird way of looking at things, but that’s how I feel about the two options.

  5. These articles do a great job explaining the pros and cons of working at an hourly or fixed rate. One should utilize both methods of payments depending on the type of project they are working on. If one is working on a project that does not take a long time, but is still valuable and requires highly specialized skills, they should aim to be paid at at a flat rate for the entire project. If a person knows that a project will take a long time, or have the potential to exceed the expected deadline, they should work hourly to make sure they are being compensated for the extra time they put into the project. When making a contract, is it okay to just use a word document and have signatures or is there a more officially format that needs to be used for the agreement to be official?

  6. I hope to do freelance work when I leave college since I like to do so many things. The thought of how to make a profit through freelancing has always been daunting and overwhelming. It was really helpful to read up a broken-down way to do it.

  7. It seems like drawing up two contracts for a client and offering both options or making that decision based on a case by case basis might be best. As a glass artist, I would normally rent time in a studio (though I have found ways around having to pay for consistent time). Regardless, normally the ability to rent time is in 3 hour slots. I also tend to run my studio time on this 3 hour time period. Because glass is so finicky, I am often unsure how many trials I will have to go through in order to make something a client wants, and if the client will be satisfied with what I am providing. I think it is more effective for me to charge based on hourly because I would have to pay for the whole 3 hours in order to get work time and in that case, it becomes an expense that I would need to factor into the cost of the work. Basically, add my hourly salary rate (that I used to make my break-even analysis) to the hourly rate of material cost (including my rental costs) and charge that as an hourly rate. Do you think it fair to charge for the whole 3 hr slot even if I don’t use the whole time to make the work?

  8. I like that the articles talked about a verity of ways to price your work and explained the benefits and consequences of each one I especially enjoyed the article by Carrer Foundry as we are always told to price our work based on time but some art mediums take less time than others but are comparable quality so in that situation time-based pricing may not be ideal for the artist who works faster.

  9. Before this class I honestly didn’t know much at all about freelancing your work and what that could mean as an artist. This is definitely helpful information and opens the door to a whole new approach to your career.

  10. The Bidsketch article very clearly broke down the pros and cons of hourly rates. This also goes back to justifying the value of the work and the value of your time spent doing the work. I see how there becomes a cap on hourly pay but it does make justifying a fair pay slightly easier. This is also beneficial when you’re working on a set schedule of repetitive work. Contract work seems a bit less intuitive. How does one draft their own contract? Is there people who draft contracts for you? I believe it’s more likely in teaching or working for an organization that they would have a stock contract that has been used before. It seems intimidating to know what you are looking for when reading a contract. Knowing what is good, bad, or should be questioned is an incredibly important skill.

  11. I have thought about freelancing after I finished college. It always seemed like a lot to take on, these articles really helped put things in perspective for me. It is very intimidating, but the way these articles summarized freelance work makes it seem possible.

  12. This is such a great resource, thank you for posting! Is it more recommended to contact someone else to write a professional contract for you, or is it okay to type up some yourself if a customer asks?

    Really wish I had this 3 years ago when I was starting up with my facepainting business, haha…

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