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Setting Minimums

Today I want to talk about taking on designer jobs that don’t make any money as well as how you can recognize them. It’s a problem for designers because we get full of little jobs that use up our time and clutter our schedules. We end up not making any money because these jobs simply aren’t big enough to charge enough.



I know that as a designer, you want to help everybody. But unless you’re in the very beginning of your career and need to pick up every job that falls at your feet, you need to stop.

You need to know that some jobs are so small that you can’t possibly charge an appropriate amount of time that it will take you to complete them. You either lose money or end up working for $18 an hour, and that’s not why you’re here.

Think about it this way: if you have a living room job with a budget of $30,000, then it’s easy to calculate your fee at 15%. That would give you $4,500, which you can then divide by the goal of a $150 hourly rate. The result is 30 hours, which means the plan is to complete the project within that amount of time.  That would allow enough time for 3 – 4 meetings, programming, any tweaks along the way, planning, researching, costing, and preparing the final presentation.

Compare that scenario to when someone contacts you to reupholster a chair. Typically, that job would be priced at $1,200. With your fee set at 15%, it would come to $180, which is barely more than an hour’s worth of work. There’s no way to see a client, do the research, get the numbers together, prepare the proposal and present it in that little bit of time. It’s not possible because this is more like a five-hour job.

You have to look at these situations before you get in them to determine it’s not a good job for you.

Watch the video above where I explain how setting minimums help get you out of this situation. It’s a simple thing to do, and it’s easy for clients to understand. I explain how this works whether you’re just starting out, moving upmarket, or have an established business.

It’s important to move yourself up gradually so that you give yourself a chance to get used to those numbers. Move it up in increments that you’re comfortable with while also being consistent with making those increases. Doing this also eliminates all the little jobs that take all your time so that you can focus on bigger, more profitable jobs.

It may not be pleasant for people to turn you down for higher rates, but it does help you qualify your clients. In order to move upmarket, you have to have a clear definition of who you want to work with and how that helps you meet your goals.

If you’d like to apply these types of strategies to your life and business, then you would love the IDBA education and coaching programs. These programs meet you where you are in your business and help you level up. Sign up for a clarity call with one of our coaches. The calls are fun, and there is no obligation.

Schedule your call now.

Until next time, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth.

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