Negotiating freelance rates for fashion designers

Many times former students of mine e-mail me to find out what they should charge for a freelance assignment?

Unfortunately there is not really a straight forward answer to that question. There are many factors to consider from your side as the freelancer as well as about the company that you want to work with. For example you as the freelancer : Are you experienced? If so, are the companies that are on your resume well recognized companies that make you and your experience more valuable? The company that you work for: Are they a corporation, a start up? A start up that is well funded? These factors just mentioned are some of the easy ones to spot from each side right away, but then there are some more complicated factors that have to do with what to consider when coming up with your freelance rate.I will be brief and hope that this blog post will lead to a thread of comments of experience and advice. Here a some things to think about: * will you be paid per project or per hour? * will you be paid on a W2 (employer’s payroll will deduct taxes)  or 1099 ( you will have to pay taxes at the end of year and need to keep track of expenses)? * will you have to work onsite and pay for gas, parking and  lunch or will you be able to work from home? * are any material cost involved? who pays for them? * what type of job is this? is your creativity wanted or are you given precise instructions and need to ” just” digitize or bring someone else’ s idea to live (perhaps draft a pattern?)

Freelance contract advice:

* I have had one bad experience where I did a freelance job referred to me thorough a person at a trusted freelance job and I ended up not receiving payment. Therefore I decided to not even start a job, before i receive 30 -50% payment upfront. That also means that you need to be able to predict and agree upon how much this job is going to cost.



* Through the years, I also started noticing that some companies were trying to get many free revisions after they had already paid. That led me to start putting a limit of revision on the assignment as well as a end date and a price for additional work/ revisions.

* Some companies were paying me per project but they were highly unorganized in giving instructions and material needed which leads to a constant waste of time in unnecessary communication and waiting for delivery of items needed.

So here are 2 real emails that I have sent to client that needed Bikini Linesheets, before starting on the QUOTE for the  project:

Email 1 : “To whom it may concern, Thanks so much for contacting me. I really appreciate it. My rate is negotiable, but it typically is hourly (rather than project rate) and falls between $? and $? per hour depending on the project, the product category, whether I work from my home office or in house, and the duration of the project (ie. if project is longer than price goes down, if project is quick turn around it will be closer to $? per hour). I have a couple of questions about the Line, to see how long it would probably take me to do it: 1. Are there any Illustrator sketches available as of now? 2. Will some of designs have prints/ graphics? Are those available as Illustrator of Photoshop files? Or do I recreate/ create? 3. 12 styles meaning 1 style = top and bottom? Or is the top counted as one style and the bottom counted as another style?”

Email 2: “Hi there, Good talking to you over the phone, thank you again. Here is a list of items that will help me put this quote together. – photos/ quick sketches of Bodies with style numbers, wholesale, (suggested retail, Fabric content) – label any print or graphic (labeled with style numbers of bodies that they go on) – color swatches of all colorways (labeled with style numbers of bodies that they go on) For color accuracy, I need to print color swatches with the printer that is going to run the Linesheets in the end, on the type of paper that will be used: Please answer the following: 1) What type of paper (glossy, matte?) 2) What type of finish (simply stapled at the corner < very common! or more elaborate such as coil binding with front clear cover < not necessary if she has fancy look-book!) 3) How many copies will she need? 4) What is her budget for the Printing? Here is my address:


So you can see that you need to be highly organized and in a way strict with your clients so that they can respect you and your precious time.

Please use this post as a way to voice your experience.

What are some of the tips and tricks that you have learned along the way?

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