Re: making slides: how much to charge?

Subject: Re: making slides: how much to charge?
From: "Dan S. Azlin" <dazlin -at- SHORE -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 23:50:56 -0500

This is a very timely issue considering the amount of discussion that has
gone on recently concerning the evolution of the TW trade into a
Technical Communication Profession. For myself, I feel very
uncomfortable using the same fee scale for
research/writing/editing/indexing/... / and doing graphic design. A
graphic designer can make anywhere from $50-$100 per hour doing the kind
of work Cathy describes. To charge the same rate as we might for writing
the text for a manual is like giving our labor away.

When I quote a job doing a complete manual, I come up with a cost based
on the projected amount of research, document design, writing, graphic
design, screen captures/rework, and add an adjustment for the existance
of good source material (especially in electronic format). If I have to
aquire special software, the price goes into the project estimate. If I
have to act as a project manager for the customer, there is an override
involved. There is also an override for materials and expenses (like
wear and tear on computer equipment). Only then, when I know what the
project should reasonable cost, I's add a reasonable profit and quote a
figure. That way, if I quote $60/hr for a job like Cathy describes, it
will be representative of the real cost to produce the desired product.
...and since my overhead is less that the graphics design house down
town, I'll probably get the job.

Which is to say, analyze the real costs of doing the job and quote what's
fair. If you just pick a number out of the air because it's what you
usually charge for EVERYTHING, you are cheating yourself _and_ your

But that's my $.02 on top of my soapbox.

On Wed, 24 Jan 1996, Cathy Quinones wrote:

> Ok, this is one of those "how much would you charge?" questions...

> How much would you charge for making camera-ready,
> presentation-quality slides from someone's handwritten notes, using
> Corel Draw or some such program? The product would be a floppy with
> files (customer then pays 3rd party to make the slides).

You will still need to provide printed proofs of each slide, so allow for
the additional labor & material costs. You will also need to know what
the service bureau requires for printing the slides (file types, fonts,
media, file compression utilities, etc.).

> I understand that just getting the slides made (once files are ready)
> costs ~$4.25 per slide. How much is the LABOR of creating the files
> worth? Do you charge by the hour, or by the slide?

You charge for the type of services provided: Graphic designer,
copywriter, editor, etc.

> (this is one of those things, you don't want to undercharge the
> customer because later on it will be difficult to get them to pay the
> real market value!)
It never pays to "buy the business" by undercharging. Better to make a
fair bid and walk away if they balk. It is surprising how many clients
call you back when they realize how reasonable and professional your bid
really was.

> Thanks!

> Cathy Quinones
> quinones -at- mindspring -dot- com
> (that's my web page with pet bird care info)

Dan Azlin ** WORD ENGINEERS, Technical Writing & Publishing **
Ph/Fax: 508-921-8908 18 School Street
Internet: dazlin -at- shore -dot- net Beverly, MA 01915-4851

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