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What would you charge?


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#1
David Medeiros

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For those of you doing freelance or contract cartography, especially publication mapping for books or magazines, I'd like your opinion on what you might consider to be a fair market value for the work attached. Final map is around 8 x 10, with header and footers it represents a full page in a high quality quarterly journal.

I'm not sure if this is a tabu topic or not, seems like it is. I do periodic mapping for a travel publication, you've probably seen me post a few of these here for input. I'm renegotiating my price per map, which is fairly low IMO, and the increase modest. I've been happy to do it because its fun, its a great magazine that I identify with and its a good resume builder. Being new to the freelance game I don't have a clear idea what I should expect from this kind of work so I'm hoping, without revealing too much about your private work practices, you can give me little guidance.

Thanks all,

Dave

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GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#2
Hans van der Maarel

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Well... If it'd be a one-off map, I'd probably be looking somewhere in the 200-300 euro range. If it's part of a series I could go lower. That's a rough ballpark figure though, haven't really thought it through in detail. Data aquisition on a map like this wouldn't be too difficult, but I'm expecting that there would be some corrections necessary.
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#3
David Medeiros

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Well... If it'd be a one-off map, I'd probably be looking somewhere in the 200-300 euro range. If it's part of a series I could go lower. That's a rough ballpark figure though, haven't really thought it through in detail. Data aquisition on a map like this wouldn't be too difficult, but I'm expecting that there would be some corrections necessary.


Thanks Hans,

Thats about what I had figured (when converted to US dollars), maybe a bit less since I have established my standards and some of the elements are in a template. But on the other hand because I like making these I always spend more time than I'm billing on them. Just want to be sure I'm not deluding myself into thinking these are more involved than they are.

When you do something that to you seems easy and fun its often difficult to know what to charge for it.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#4
Charles Syrett

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When you do something that to you seems easy and fun its often difficult to know what to charge for it.


I think this is always the case when you enjoy what you do. :rolleyes: The usual laws of supply and demand are always there, and pricing is perceived differently in different sectors of the market.

One pricing guideline that a number of mapping companies have used over the years is based on a page size map: The range is $300 to $900, depending on density of detail and what it takes to compile it. I believe that this rule-of-thumb originated in the street map sector. For example, a map page (for a directory) that contains mostly rural area, and perhaps a small town, would be $300. Another map page, with dense curvy-street subdivisions (including schools, parks, etc.) filling the entire page, would be $900.

This formula doesn't work very well with one-off projects, though. Every project really needs to be looked at on its own merits. Also: to avoid "commoditization" (the perception that you're selling a "thing", rather than a custom service), always make it clear that pricing is based on studio time. That's why a less detailed map CAN sometimes cost more than a detailed map!

Charles Syrett
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http://www.mapgraphics.com

#5
David Medeiros

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...a less detailed map CAN sometimes cost more than a detailed map!

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


Very true! In the case of these maps, they look simple (not a lot vector detail) but I actually spend a good deal of time getting the terrain just right in NSD before then spending more time in photoshop altering color and lightness before actually placing the relief image in my map. I may go through 2 or 3 iterations like that before the map is done. And there is an inverse relationship between relief elevations and time needed to get the image to look right. Lower relief maps, and deserts in particular, require a lot of fiddling with the color ramp to bring out the detail.

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#6
Charles Syrett

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I may go through 2 or 3 iterations like that before the map is done.


Iterations, right. When I'm pricing a project that's a one-off design project, I always give a price based on what I think it will take to design and produce the first draft, and then add a clause that further design iterations will be billed extra. I also state that we won't move forward with a new iteration until our new price has been approved. (I'm talking about a situation where a client wants to change the design specs.) This works like a charm, especially when there are several people on the client side who want to "make their mark" on the project! They'll think twice when they know your meter is ticking. :rolleyes: It's nearly always win-win.

Charles Syrett
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http://www.mapgraphics.com

#7
frax

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Also to keep in mind, who has the rights to the final product. I am pricing work higher if I won't have any rights to use/reuse after it is delivered.
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#8
James Hines

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I would charge the client based on the software I use & the level of detail that is involved to this kind of map. To do that I simulate in my both my head & procedure on the computer what has to be done, determine by how much work is done in GIS, done in Illustrator & come up with a price. If the project requires something you don't have & is reasonable add it as either a hidden cost or as part of a service fee.

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#9
François Goulet

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Graphic designers talks a lot about that... and somehow, in that matter, our job is similar to theirs.

Here's some reference I've grabbed in the past few weeks :

http://justcreatived...or-design-work/
http://www.allfreela...and-businesses/
http://freelanceswit...ing-your-price/
http://freelanceswitch.com/rates/

Personally, I'm okay with Hans' prices. The last map I made took me about a day/a day and a half and I charged 450$ (Canadian $, roughly 325 euros). It was an historical map of the city of Quebec for a novel which include some research and retracing almost everything. I did provide with my quote an estimate of the time I think it would take (I have a rate for research and another for mapping), but in the end, it's the global amount I charge so I'm thinking of removing my hourly estimate...

I tend to charge more and more by the project and not at the hour because I'm faster now at my job than I was 4 years ago so why should I charge 30% less if I can make the map in 7 hours instead of 10 when it will also be of a better quality? You spend a lot of time working on your terrain, but the next time, it will be faster and charging by the hour, you will lose money (or regain a little, if you lose a lot this time ;) )

I've once read, even though I can't find the source, that to estimate your hourly cost (because you still need that to estimate the total cost of a project), multiply what you want to have in you pocket by at least 1.8. Under that ratio, you are "loosing" money, because I you say that you'd be happy with, let's say, 20$ an hour, you could lose in taxes 30-35% (at least here in Quebec) and you will have to pay what an employer would normally pay (software, insurances, pension, sick days...). You will lose maybe half of it. The consultant firm for which I work for my day job (as a GIS specialist) is "selling" me for 2.35 times my salary.

For my first job as a cartographer (unashamed of putting the link... I still proud of that book), I charged more that half of what I'm charging now when a graphic designer was, him, charging the full price to put colors on my map... Now I do it all and charge it all ;)

Also, but charging to low, you will give a sense of low quality to your work. My fiancee and I are currently looking for a wedding cartographer and when we finally found one charging half the price of the others, I started to think "why so low? Is he good or what?"

#10
David Medeiros

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I appreciate all the advice. There are some good points to consider. This discussion reminds me of the open freelancer’s talk from last year’s NACIS meeting, which I found very interesting and useful. I hope we can keep this kind of thing going; it’s really helpful for new freelancers like me to hear what the pros do.

Francois, I agree with the idea of simply biding your work as opposed to charging hourly (while still keeping track of your time). I think of it the same way my mechanic does… when I bring him a job to do he looks it up in his work schedule and tells me how many hours that particular job is and I pay them by the hourly rate. But in reality they may only spend half the actual time working… the time estimate reflects the jobs overall difficulty not their real time spent on it. It sounds like a rip off but it’s really a fair way of figuring out how much a job is worth. If you know typically how long a certain job takes you can assign it a length of time to complete, but as you progress or improve your work flow you will take less and less time to finish the work. The time estimate simply helps you and your client understand the jobs difficulty as well as set a completion schedule.

In the case of the map I linked I stepped in to replace their previous cartographer and accepted their current rate but let them know that it was below my rate for similar work. I knew I had to provide them with better work than they were used to before I would be able to convince them that it was worth more money. I think I’ve done that. Its still less than I would quote for these to a new customer, but not my much and I get the benefit of working with a great publication that I hope will reflect well on my portfolio.

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