PRICING AND MARKETING YOUR FREELANCE 3D MODELING & RENDERING BUSINESS
There are two main types of pricing for your 3D modeling and rendering services. Hourly and per image/space. Both have their pros and cons.
- Less worry about "scope creep." When something is added to the scope of work, you can more easily add hours to the quote.
- You get paid for the time you put into the project.
- Client is more motivated to give ample details and measurements at the onset and communicate well. I always let my clients know that if I have to send more emails to clarify or get more information, that time will be charged at my hourly rate.
- Most clients will want to know an estimate of hours. Even if you realize the project is more complex after you begin, you may feel pressured to keep within the range you originally quoted, whether officially or unofficially.
- You are trading time for money, and there is only so much time in the day. (This gives you a somewhat limited earning potential.)
When to charge hourly:
If the client can't give you enough details to give a reasonable estimate (you have no idea how long it will take you to draw), opt for hourly.
PER IMAGE/SPACE, AKA VALUE-BASED PRICING
- Your income is not limited by how many hours are in a day.
- You and your client will know the total price from the start of the project.
- If you are fast, your hourly rate goes up…without the client knowing it.
- It is somewhat easier to raise your prices with the per-project model, because all prices will vary. This is less noticeable to your client than hourly.
- You can be more relaxed with tracking time (however, you should note how long a drawing takes you so that you aren’t ripping yourself off!)
- If you quote low and realize this after the onset, you may feel like you are giving away free hours toward the end of the project.
- A long-term project may be challenging to quote (see combo below).
When to charge per image/space:
If you are fast, charging per space is a great way to raise your earning potential. Also, if your client seems like the type that would scoff at how long it took you to draw something, and they don't value the time it takes to create the drawings, go the route of per image/space.
Note about per image/space pricing:
If the client adds to the scope of the project, constantly revisit the original quote/contract with them to see if this goes beyond the original scope and adjust as necessary. Watch for “scope creep”!
Some may opt for a combo, give a project rate, and an hourly fee for any extra work. This is great for longer projects that are difficult to quote.
No matter what you decide to charge, always require a retainer before the work begins, with the remainder payable in either increments or at the conclusion depending on the length of the project. (The longer the project, the more appropriate it is to collect fees in intervals throughout.) You may even elect to have the entire fee collected in the beginning. It can be difficult and awkward to chase someone down for past-due fees.
Marketing is a topic much too large for one small blog post. There are many great ways to market your 3D modeling and rendering services (some ideas are listed below). Still, nothing will rival your portfolio, speaking for itself and word-of-mouth referrals.
Building a portfolio is a bit less complicated for 3D modelers because you can sit down and create something with SketchUp. There is no need for an actual client; you can create drawings from a case study. You can practice on the spaces in your home, office, or friends' homes. This will take a bit of creativity and redesign, but it will be a great way to flex that creative muscle. Once you have created drawings, post them to your website.
I like to house as much information as possible on my website. This will cut down on the amount of communication needed. You can view my site here: codydesignstudio.com. I have the following pages available to potential clients:
- Drawing Time Overview
- Checklist: Items and drawings needed to get started.
- About: Don't skip this one! Let clients know you are a real person ready to help.
- Blog: Great for SEO if you keep up with it.
OTHER MARKETING IDEAS:
- Facebook advertising: targeted at designers and real estate agents.
- Social Media: post portfolio images to Instagram and use hashtags.
- Pinterest: a fantastic search engine for designers to find you.
- Interact in design forums.
- Use keywords in your site: 3D modeling, 3D Rendering, photorealistic rendering, 2D Floor plans.
- Post reviews (ask for reviews!)
- Be sure to keep a mailing list. MailChimp is a great free tool.
Whatever method you use, keep moving forward, learning, and growing with each new client. I hope that you have found this series helpful. Next up, a blog post geared towards those who would like to hire out your drawings.