Episode 63 – $1,000 an hour – negotiating beyond your limits

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Episode 63 – $1,000 an hour – negotiating beyond your limits


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Probably one of the more controversial episodes put out – as is anything to do with money. But this episode dives into understanding the logistics of what you charge as a freelancer and how to re-think it all to get what you are worth, but also do it in a way that your clients get exactly what they want as well.


This episode delves into essentially a lot of the limitations typically you can hit with negotiating your rates, and the reasons are pretty valid, if you come into a studio asking for a high rate when they budgeted much lower for a mid level artist, you’re not really able to match what you’re after. This episode isn’t about getting $1k an hour, although I used this as an example of projects where by doing bids you’re able to actually go much higher and set prices that if they’re agreeable to both party’s, you’re able to get what you’re happy with (as are they) without it needing to be broken down to an hourly standard rate. Most of the projects I do are on a per shot basis that I’ve bidded out and that way – as long as you’re able to stay on top of it and work around any curve balls on the client side that weren’t foreseen, you’re able to get receive what both you and your client are happy with and a lot of times this still ends up being cheaper for the client too as there’s less risk involved.

Again with a subject like this – I’m sure there are plenty of people who have their opinions, this is pretty much how I’ve worked on ‘most’ projects for the past 10 years although its not always realistic for everyone or always an option.

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  1. Chill says:

    I think that people are too afraid to ask for money, for any industry. Mostly that we are programmed to be afraid to ask for what you’re worth or anywhere near it. Whether it be McDonald’s or the US Government, it’s the same issue (OK, the scope is obviously different). For the new artists, not knowing the true numbers can seem like a slap in the face when they get turned down.

    Having an industry standard for median payment seem to be an issue across the board. Having a resource that is unafraid to mention all of this is invaluable.


  2. Mario says:

    The underlying idea could be great if there wasn’t two big flaws: unreasonable revisions and amount of revisions. That’s why big studios go bankrupt or barely make any money. It’s hard to negotiate payments for unexpected expenses for most studios. And in most areas of digital postpro, be it commercials, feature film vfx etc. this is the case.

  3. Strob says:

    Hi Allan! Wow I haven’t been here since while and now I have like 50 podcasts to listen to! just started with that one! It’s really cool to listen to you, please don’t stop your podcast. you are always inspiring and true mentor!

    One thing I do when bidding for projects is that I make a list of every task I will be doing and put an estimate for every single tasks example: modeling a chair: 2; uv: 0.5; animating camera: 1; texturing: 1; render: 3; etc. And then the final price is a fixed price based on a hourly rate. If the client wants it faster, I add a factor to multiply the final amount cause it will cost more to do it faster (need to hire someone or work extra hours). I do this estimate based on the client budget. I ask for client budget first, but so many have read that damn book (podcast!) about “how to negotiate 101″ and they never want to say a price first (and most of my client are in between, so they have it easy to just tell me they don’t want to tell a price first). So in that case I just bid a bit higher. When it works I have a list with everything that was supposed to be included. If they ask for something else, it’s easy to just send them an updated list with the extra tasks, hours and budget, then they have no choice to pay a bit more or feel guilty!

    By the way don’t be afraid of such taboo subjects, it’s now your most popular podcast. So next you could talk about sex in the CG industry or worse: some software publishers sadistic addiction to a subscription only model for consumer captivity.

    Also pretty scary your story about that studio who told you they will sue you if you don’t deliver on time! You should tell them “Yeah sure that’s the way it works and if I deliver on time and you don’t pay I will hire some mafiosi to make trouble at your next shareholder meeting but I say that in all friendship so don’t be afraid!”

    p.s. I installed itune just for you and tried letting a review, but we need an Apple ID, since, which I don’t want to have cause I hate Apple. I would prefer if you put your poadcasts on youtube, it’s easier to comment and interact on Youtube. Many people publish podcast on Youtube with just a fixed frame in place of the video and it is working great. no need to download and install software and register with some corporation.

    Joce “Strob”

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