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#46
James Hines

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Here's another thing for those of us who are struggling to get a clientele because of past mistakes it's best to "STOP!" And what I mean by that is to slow down, think about what your doing & if your serious enough go back to the beginning & rebuild your business as if you were just starting your venture. Maybe freelance cartography is only a side business but if your good enough the freelance venture can provide a healthy income combined with what ever job you have.

Maybe someday it can provide too good of an income that you can leave your job, maybe your freelance work leads you to a prestigious position with a GIS firm, but one of the keys to success is to take criticism, don't rush into full time freelance with no cliente, & do not concentrate freelancing yourself out as being good at everything. Focus on a niche & eventually instead of getting advice on how to grow your business you will be giving advice, & having others beg to get projects from you.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#47
David Medeiros

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one of the keys to success is to take criticism...


That couldn't be more true. I try to make peer review a standard part of my process, not just review of my work but to take part in reviewing others work as well. It's amazing how much you can learn from critiquing other peoples maps. Looking over an unfamiliar map gives you the distance to think critically about it, it helps clarify your own thinking on your best practices.

Additionally is good to have the self confidence to disregard criticism you don't agree with without getting defensive or adversarial.

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#48
Derek Tonn

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I started as a freelancer in 1994. It wasn't until June 11, 2000 that I scaled back from (other) full-time work to part-time work, and it was nearly 2002 before I was full-time on my own (no other sources of income). I never could have made it without those eight years to slowly build up a portfolio and a client base...and even then, I don't think most people took me seriously until 2005. Eleven years after I got my first check for a sideline mapping gig.

It takes a lot of time, effort and patience...as well as a lot of luck. A LOT of luck!

I've wondered for years why several folks around CartoTalk haven't set up a "mapformation-like" shop specific to GIS services. An autonomous collective (a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail) with a series of mutually exclusive non-competes and somebody taking charge of sales/marketing, web development, financials, and operations. Designers keeping 80%, "HQ" keeping 20% to cover sales/admin time and some of the other operational costs. 70/30 or 75/25 might keep "HQ" from going bankrupt (lol)...but you get the idea.

Actually, we've toyed with the idea of opening up a GIS "division" in our shop for years! I just have never pulled the trigger...because when it comes to GIS, I am a complete idiot and would need at least 1-2 people with a LONG list of clients and experience to hold my hand through the process. Somebody out there has got to do it though, as an opportunity for lots of talented GIS freelancers to come under one collective marketing and operational umbrella. Instant depth of portfolio materials and clientele (compared to one person), as well as instant "street cred" with bigger clients looking to hire for projects that are too large for a one-person operation.

2-3 talented people coming together would be good. 7-8+ talented people coming together would be fantastic. 10-15+ talented people coming together, and your competitors would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. :)
Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

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http://www.mapformation.com

#49
David Medeiros

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I've always liked your mapformation concept... I don't now if I fully understand the details of how it works but it seems like a great way to pool talent. I'd love to see more of these cartographic collectives starting up.

One thing to consider when asking why hasn't anyone started a GIS collective is that while a lot people would love to sign on, not many of us know how to get it going or keep it going... you may have created a new niche job for yourself... collective designer!

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#50
Derek Tonn

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David,

I think several of the men and women on CartoTalk could do it! All it really takes is a willingness to do it, some clearly defined roles/responsibilities, and finding the right people to pull it off.

The key for our shop has been finding people who don't overlap core competencies. Or if those core competencies do overlap, that there is a clearly defined hierarchy or pecking order established. If team members don't know what their role is or they don't trust that "the new guy" won't be coming in and taking food off their plate, it won't end well.

I'm learning more lessons on how to do it (and how not to do it) with every passing year. We've still got a long ways to go! However, I think our strength in numbers is making us better than we would have been alone. I'm not sure if all of us would have weathered this recent recession without one another to lean on and our ability to share a lot of marketing expenses. We also landed the second largest job in our firm's history in the Fall that required a half-dozen of us to all pitch in and help. Had we not been a team, we wouldn't have had a prayer of landing that contract! It also gave us confidence to bid on other very-large "team" type projects this Winter as well.

I'd help in the process of developing a GIS consortium of sorts! However, I just want to see somebody do it (well)...regardless of who the individual members of the consortium might be. Even if I'm just cheering those people on from a distance and sharing a few war stories from my past 16-17 years.
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#51
James Hines

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David,

I think several of the men and women on CartoTalk could do it! All it really takes is a willingness to do it, some clearly defined roles/responsibilities, and finding the right people to pull it off.

The key for our shop has been finding people who don't overlap core competencies. Or if those core competencies do overlap, that there is a clearly defined hierarchy or pecking order established. If team members don't know what their role is or they don't trust that "the new guy" won't be coming in and taking food off their plate, it won't end well.

I had that experience earlier this year with a potential project. I was the new guy that offered a solution that would have streamlined a flash project thanks to MAPublisher. The client was leaning towards my way but then I found out that he was going to involve his main developer. I did what the client told me to do, send his developer samples, explained as best as I could what was going on. And the reaction I got from his developer was that he was not too happy because he was expected to loose money as a result of this streamlining solution that I was offering.

One of the impressions I got from the client was that he considered his main freelancer to be way too expensive. And
though I was not cheap myself the client was still willing to work with me. The catch 22 was when he wanted to download MAPublisher for the next two weeks to try & learn it himself, (in other words he was working towards keeping me from getting any part of the project.) The other freelancer was successful but no doubt in my opinion likely couldn't figure out how to use MAPublisher so instead of outsourcing it to me; likely telling the client that the project was not feasible using MAPublisher. Last I heard from this client he was looking for an html programmer but somehow I have a feeling his main freelancer likely found a way to keep the project all to himself.

So at the end game I wonder how bad the maps look! <_<

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#52
James Hines

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I've always liked your mapformation concept... I don't now if I fully understand the details of how it works but it seems like a great way to pool talent. I'd love to see more of these cartographic collectives starting up.

One thing to consider when asking why hasn't anyone started a GIS collective is that while a lot people would love to sign on, not many of us know how to get it going or keep it going... you may have created a new niche job for yourself... collective designer!


Some of the problems I think when it comes to freelance work is that while most of us are cartographers not all of us are graphic cartographers. Many of us thrive more with the GIS end of the industry because to quote what someone once told me, "the area that you will have your expertise, (niche), maybe the area that you least suspect or in this case what you consider your weakest area of the field." In other words when I started freelancing I considered my niche to be somehow graphic compared to GIS. I like the idea of a GIS collective & as time goes on something related to the technical end of cartography is where I know my niche is. I suspect it's related to marketing, but not really to sure until I get more direction on where my niche is.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#53
MapMedia

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In terms of specializing within the custom map market, a niche in itself, there are a few options to consider, in the graph below, or be a generalist (my approach), though I also provide GIS and 'other consulting' services.

#54
Irvin Feliciano

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Since there are very few large pure cartography firms in the world, many new cartographers, especially those more interested in designing and producing maps - rather than just GIS - often find they need to go it on their own.

My best advice is to start freelancing part-time until you have a client base. It will probably take some time to get a steady base of clients, and you will probably find it difficult to support yourself on the early trickle of projects. Of course you need to be careful because some employers don’t take kindly to side work, especially if it is in a similar industry. The other approach is to start a freelance business based on a large contract that can support you, but make sure you think about what happens when that job is finished.

Start with a professional looking website showing samples of your work. If you don't feel you are capable of doing a good job on your own, get a designer friend to help you out or even hire a struggling freelance web designer. Potential clients WILL make a snap judgment of your skills based on the look of your site, even though your web skills have nothing to do with your cartographic skills.

Promotion is the next step. A simple place to start is Google's AdWord program. For a set daily budget you can create simple ads that will be shown when people search for your selected keywords.

Make a list of companies that use the kinds of maps you want to make (print, web, artsy, etc.). Magazines, newspapers, book publishers, real-estate agencies, real-estate developers, and communication companies are just some of the kinds of companies that need maps.

Think about creating a printed promotional piece (the more professional looking the better) and send this brochure or sample sheet to the companies on your list. Try to address it to the Design Director or similar position. You can even call the companies and often find out their name.

If you are very new to cartography, a good way to start is to contact established cartographers and see if they need any freelance help. This is a great way to build a portfolio and make contacts.

One of the most difficult aspects is figuring out what to charge. You can go two ways with pricing: hourly or flat rate.

If you go with an hourly rate then you can better control getting paid for the actual work done. However clients can sometimes be resistant to open-ended hourly contracts. They will probably want an estimate and possibly a "not-to-exceed" price.

A flat rate appeals to clients because they know exactly what they will be paying. You have to be very careful to put the exact details of the project deliverables in writing before starting any work so both you and the client agree on what they are getting for the price. Flat rates can be tricky until you have some experience figuring out how long it will take to produce a specific map.

One way to approach flat rate pricing and base the price on how much a project is worth to you rather than based on estimated hours. For instance, look at the client’s project request and figure out at what price point it would not be worth the effort. Some small projects may not take a lot of production time, but the overhead of client management, research, and data acquisition make it not worth the effort except at a higher rate. You will have to set that price point for yourself.

Also, don’t sell yourself short by think that a client won’t pay enough. If your price is too high for the client, don’t just cut the rate. Come up with a different solution that is less costly. Don’t give them the same amount of work for less money. Remember too, your experience level definitely should be a factor. Gaining experience and building your portfolio when you are starting out is worth more than money sometimes.

No matter which method of pricing you choose, it absolutely necessary to put the project specs and costs in writing and get the clients signature that way there is much less room for disputes later on. Create a “Statement of Work” that outlines the form and size and number of maps, what data will be shown (and if there are any data licensing fees), the project schedule, how many iterations of the initial design, and the project costs and payment terms.

In the end you should enjoy what your are doing, and don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to get some momentum going.


Hi,

My name is Irvin Feliciano and I'm new to freelance cartographer. I wonder if somewhere in the forum I can find a template of a contract and feeds (bill) for a cartographic job. It could be nice to have some basic examples that serves as a guidelines to a newbie for his/her future cartographic jobs. Any advise will be welcome.

Regards,
Irvin T. Feliciano Santiago

#55
Charles Syrett

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There have been several threads discussing contracts and quotation forms -- this one is quite recent and has several examples of quotation templates. Good luck in your endeavors!

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

Hi,

My name is Irvin Feliciano and I'm new to freelance cartographer. I wonder if somewhere in the forum I can find a template of a contract and feeds (bill) for a cartographic job. It could be nice to have some basic examples that serves as a guidelines to a newbie for his/her future cartographic jobs. Any advise will be welcome.

Regards,
Irvin T. Feliciano Santiago



#56
pompapah

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Since there are very few large pure cartography firms in the world, many new cartographers, especially those more interested in designing and producing maps - rather than just GIS - often find they need to go it on their own.

My best advice is to start freelancing part-time until you have a client base. It will probably take some time to get a steady base of clients, and you will probably find it difficult to support yourself on the early trickle of projects. Of course you need to be careful because some employers don’t take kindly to side work, especially if it is in a similar industry. The other approach is to start a freelance business based on a large contract that can support you, but make sure you think about what happens when that job is finished.

Start with a professional looking website showing samples of your work. If you don't feel you are capable of doing a good job on your own, get a designer friend to help you out or even hire a struggling freelance web designer. Potential clients WILL make a snap judgment of your skills based on the look of your site, even though your web skills have nothing to do with your cartographic skills.

Promotion is the next step. A simple place to start is Google's AdWord program. For a set daily budget you can create simple ads that will be shown when people search for your selected keywords.

Make a list of companies that use the kinds of maps you want to make (print, web, artsy, etc.). Magazines, newspapers, book publishers, real-estate agencies, real-estate developers, and communication companies are just some of the kinds of companies that need maps.

Think about creating a printed promotional piece (the more professional looking the better) and send this brochure or sample sheet to the companies on your list. Try to address it to the Design Director or similar position. You can even call the companies and often find out their name.

If you are very new to cartography, a good way to start is to contact established cartographers and see if they need any freelance help. This is a great way to build a portfolio and make contacts.

One of the most difficult aspects is figuring out what to charge. You can go two ways with pricing: hourly or flat rate.

If you go with an hourly rate then you can better control getting paid for the actual work done. However clients can sometimes be resistant to open-ended hourly contracts. They will probably want an estimate and possibly a "not-to-exceed" price.

A flat rate appeals to clients because they know exactly what they will be paying. You have to be very careful to put the exact details of the project deliverables in writing before starting any work so both you and the client agree on what they are getting for the price. Flat rates can be tricky until you have some experience figuring out how long it will take to produce a specific map.

One way to approach flat rate pricing and base the price on how much a project is worth to you rather than based on estimated hours. For instance, look at the client’s project request and figure out at what price point it would not be worth the effort. Some small projects may not take a lot of production time, but the overhead of client management, research, and data acquisition make it not worth the effort except at a higher rate. You will have to set that price point for yourself.

Also, don’t sell yourself short by think that a client won’t pay enough. If your price is too high for the client, don’t just cut the rate. Come up with a different solution that is less costly. Don’t give them the same amount of work for less money. Remember too, your experience level definitely should be a factor. Gaining experience and building your portfolio when you are starting out is worth more than money sometimes.

No matter which method of pricing you choose, it absolutely necessary to put the project specs and costs in writing and get the clients signature that way there is much less room for disputes later on. Create a “Statement of Work” that outlines the form and size and number of maps, what data will be shown (and if there are any data licensing fees), the project schedule, how many iterations of the initial design, and the project costs and payment terms.

In the end you should enjoy what your are doing, and don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to get some momentum going.


I personally recommend researching keywords and doing SEO, notAdwords.
I'd assume you already have a Facebook and Linkedin profile/page.
If you do direct mail, do a follow-up call a week later. Get the name of the decision-maker.
Might want to try the local Chamber networking meetings.

#57
Kalai Selvan

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Well said all of you..patience is the key for success..be it freelancing (part time or Full time) decent clientele list is needed, i am a GIS map maker with 15years of experience, and started of my own for the past 2 years, reasonably ok , have been talking to 100's of new customers, 98% of them are prospects, don't know when they would be revenue making clientele.

So all depends on Luck and purely on Luck.. (If not for all, for most of them..)

Thanks and Regards
Kalai Selvan


#58
katosulliv

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I'm a recent college grad and am just getting started with freelancing, and found this thread very helpful. I map using QGIS after having used Arc all throughout school, and so far so good! Open source truly is the way to go.
-Katie O'Sullivan
http://hawkeyemaps.wordpress.com/

#59
vasso

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Hi everyone!

 

I am new here, I found cartotalk while I was doing some searching on google....mr Google knows everything, I guess:D

I just started my career as a freelance cartographer and I found this
discussion really helpfull--I haven't read all the post yet...

I had worked before as an employee in cartographic companies.

Now I am just going to start a new project creating a map, about 1:20000
-scale, 50x80 -size (these could be changed in a small scale, according
to the needs of the client)

I will be using open source softwares.

 

The map will be prodused and go to the market as a tourist map.

What I am asking, is if someone can help me in how I will cost this project? In what range a  reasonable price should be.

 

thanks

v



#60
Hans van der Maarel

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Do you mean what would be a reasonable price for producing the map when commissioned to do so by another company, or what would be a reasonable price for the tourist buying a single copy of the map?


Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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