Sunday Mailbag

October 4th, 2009 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: My question is about freelancing in the drawing area, like you, how you charge your clients? I mean, do they pay you before drawing or after that? or just 50% at the beginning and the other at the end of the project? How much is normally the price for each project? Because the client often fear the price and at the end they will not work because of that.

A: These are actually many questions, so I’ll try and answer them one by one.

Do you charge the client before you start the work, or after?

That depends on the client. A new client that I do not know much about, or a client that gives off a “questionable” feel I will require an advance payment on the job. I then require a second payment after the pencil stages are approved, and then the balance upon delivery of the final art.

Would you charge 50% at the beginning and the other at the end of the project?

A typical breakdown is this;

  • 25% advance
  • 25% upon approval of pencils
  • 50% balance due upon delivery of the final art

I do that for clients I am unfamiliar with just to make sure they are serious. However I only require 25% rather than 50% or more because trust has to go both ways, and they need to know I am going to fulfill my end of the bargain as well.

If it’s a client I have worked with before or who has a well known reputation I won’t bother with that arrangement as it is somewhat inconvenient for the client.

How much is do you charge for each project?

That is basically impossible to answer as each project is different and each client is different. You have to take into consideration the use of the artwork, the budget of the client, the deadline involved and how busy you are at the time.

Here’s a post I did some time ago that gives the best answer to that question I can come up with.

The client often fears the price and at the end they will not work because of that.

That’s not a question but it is a topic for discussion. All clients want to get the work done for as little as possible. However some clients are not really clients, but someone looking for something either for free or for way below a reasonable market price. Those are the type of “clients” that I would require an advance from.You cannot be concerned about if your pricing is too much for a given client or job, but must charge according to what you feel if fair for a job. If the client accepts that price, they are now a real client. If they do not accept, then they were never a legitimate client in the first place.

Thanks to Kin Yeyu for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


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New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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