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How Much Per Hour Should I Charge For Work Such As This?
  • Our company is developing some youtube videos for our customers. These are short video clips lasting 2 minutes in average. There are several categories,

    • demonstration of product features using shooting live video
    • illustration of products with animated video
    • screen capture to show web interface usage

    You will be working with our marketing people on the idea and implement it.


    • must have developed at least one type of videos listed above
    • skills manage video collection at youtube, including editing, posting, organizing
    • students and college grads prefered


  • 25 Replies sorted by
  • the million dollar question :)

  • You should not charge per hour, instead per completed project, or video.

    I read here, either the development of music and narrator or buy a music and pay narrator. I see no on location sound so no sound guy. All is on studio set. You resive the video add the sound.

    Usually i pay $3000 the sound house to make new music. Narrator is usually here on Perú about $300. If you buy an already existing music the price is quiet the same if it is for publicity.

  • @vicharris LOL Yes it is a touch one i dont wanna sell myself short and i don't wanna scare em away either. I don't have million dollar camera equipment and am kind of a beginner in the professional field. Wo whadya think my hourly rate should be?

  • It was there idea to charge by the hour and it could turn into fulltime long term work which i'd be VERY OK WITH. So i'm thinking what hourly rate?

  • No idea man. I screw myself all the time. I see you're doing animation too. That's way out of my league. Also depends on your market but regardless, someone will underbid you so try to get that out of your head.

  • so no matter how much i charge someone will charge less? Its a local company if that matters...

  • Nobody else can tell you what your time is worth or how valued your expertise is. If you are also producing, you, personally, have to determine the team required, the amount of time required, rates and other associated costs for each individual project. Some one-man-bands could charge as low as $250 a day or a project rate of $500-$750 for this type of work (or even lower - which is a very dangerous game), others won't engage for any less that $1000+ a day or projects with $10,000+ budgets minimum. Unfortunately there is no rule here, it's a sliding scale that is determined by your clients desires and standards, and your expertise and experience. If this is the type of work you plan on doing, you'll no doubt under estimate at certain times and over estimate for others, all the while, your rates/costs will likely slide around greatly depending on a number of individual project and personal factors - unless you're so busy that you are turning down more than half the jobs offered to you (in which case you'll have determined your rate for projects that you WANT and you'll have another rate for projects you would more reluctantly consider). Sorry there isn't a metric for you to figure this out, you're going to have to either jump in with both feet and learn to swim or pack up your trunks and leave the pool.

  • In regards to being underbid: people get what they pay for. I've lost gigs to the line: "well, my nephew has a camcorder and he said he could do it for $100" many times. To that I respond "Ok, good luck. You know what I'm offering and you have my number, so get in touch if you change your mind." More than once I've even had some of these clients come back to me after and say "okay, we're ready to engage now". One client in particular, after trying the 'guy with camcorder' approach, came back and spent over $50,000 in one year on high quality, cinematic corporate video projects. They understood the value of good work after seeing what $100 buys you. But you just never know.

    As for the 'hourly rate' request from them - unless they are able to determine how much time a particular project requires (days/weeks/etc) - this is a very bad approach for both you and them. You'll feel pressure to work faster (and less thoroughly) and they'll feel like the project costs are constantly 'balooning'. If I was you and bidding for this job, I would be recommending to them to start with individual project budgets and go from there. If they want a full time video person, they should have a rate in mind, otherwise they are chasing for the lowest bidder and will get the lowest quality work.

  • @JuMo Thanks for all the info!

  • anyone else care to provide some sensi' proverbs?

  • No problem, I can only offer what I have learned over the past 15 years of doing paid creative work, hopefully it helps a little. It's not easy making a living off of creative work: you have to have a good head on your shoulders and know how to use it - you're always 'job hunting', which can be exhausting for some people - be well prepared, but be flexible and ready to diversify if required - have contractual agreements with clients (and team) - be ready to make mistakes (it will happen), take responsibility and fix them - try to be pleasant and understanding with clients (sometimes it will feel like half of your job is teaching them or correcting misconceptions) but also know when to say 'no', as some people will take advantage. Oh, and have a set of standards for your work that you always strive to achieve, that's how your rates will grow. Without a set of standards, you'll fall into the poverty-project trap. Good luck with the bid!

  • What country and city (what market) are you in?

  • If it is a nonprofit or worthy cause I will consider a flate rate. If I have time. Right now I would pay myself to stop working.

  • @CFreak Honolulu, Hawaii U.S.A.

    @DrDave It is not a non-profit.

  • Lots of red flags in the project's description, but I'll just point out that "students and college grads prefered" is code for we don't care about quality, we care about cheap. It also means they'll likely squeeze as much work out of you for as little money as possible.

    Also, a client that actually prefers an hourly rate for a full-service vendor is not likely to have much experience themself. As @JuMo mentioned, per-project fees are much better for all parties involved.

    In any case, if you're really interested in this "opportunity", there are a few things to help you determine your rate:

    • Your level of experience -- if this is your first rodeo, you'll need to price lower because it will take you longer to complete the work than someone with more real-world production experience.
    • Size of the market -- Hawaii is a small market and not very savvy, so average rates are not as high as larger markets
    • Your operating costs -- what is your break even price for the operation and maintenance of your equipment/facilities?

    Another way to calculate an hourly rate is to work backwards from your desired annual income. You can use one of the many online calculators to do this. As a freelancer, you will also want to account for time when you have no active projects.

  • "students and college grads prefered "

    Yeah I agree with Jive, is the first thing I thought when I read the original post, they want somebody very cheap!

  • "students and college grads preferred " +1 for cheap client.

  • I simply ask myself what my time is worth. If there is no money in the bank, my time is worth less.

  • @DrDave @TATZU I agree: "If there is no money in the bank, my time is worth less."

    Since they are looking for students and recent grads, this might be a client that it is not possible to build a long term working relationship with. If they feel that from you, they may also exploit it. This is where knowing when to say "no" becomes important.

    I think a lot of un-informed (& informed) clients, just want to know how much? "How much for a 5 minute youtube". It's then on you to ask the right questions, so you don't screw yourself. "What are you looking for, is the live action work studio/location, indoors/outdoors, daytime/night time, production valve/content," etc. If they want an event covered and just a 5 minute clip of it, are they going to put in the time to help you find the best moments in THEIR subject matter, clips of their important people, talking heads, sound bites?. Here it can get tricky, you may end up having to re-edit, if they aren't involved.

    In your case I think it would be prudent to give a separate price for each of the 3 formats (live action, animation, screen capture).

    For each format you could:

    1) Roughly estimate your time.

    -Plug in a typical hourly wage, you'd be content to earn. Build in a contingency for time overages. Ex: Know yourself. Do you tend to underestimate on time?

    If I shoot 2 hours of material on 2 cameras (4 hours to deal with) and the client wants DVDs to proof it, I can guestimate 4 hours of material x3 = proofing DVDs (that's archiving the cards, copying to a scratch drive, laying it in a timeline, adding an ID/cleaning it up, encoding, burning & printing on the discs). If they want an edit, since it's multi cam (easier, more to not use), maybe a factor of x4. Then another factor of 1 (x5) for authored (menus) and printed DVDs to deliver and so on, so 4 x5=20 hours of post.

    Separately, If I think a project I shot will take me 5 hours of editing, it might actually take me 10, until I am satisfied with my work (I tend to like perfection). If I am editing someone else's footage, I should think about my doubled estimate as the new baseline (10 hours), AND, if it is poorly shot, double that, it's now a salvage job where errors have to be hidden with effects and music (now 20 hours). If encounter something new I need to learn, that estimate will go out the window. I am not a seasoned editor, but, getting better on every job.

    2) Estimate the cost of equipment involved to upgrade/repair/replace for the period of use on the jobs.

    3) Figure in insurance costs to replace the equipment. If it disappears on the job and you aren't making much money on the job & aren't covered, you won't be working their low ball job anymore either (next stop working at McDonald's?). You have shot yourself in the foot.

    Add it up. If it seems too high and you really want the job, the only variable you should compromise on is unfortunately (I hate to say it): your hourly wage. "If there is no money in the bank, my time is worth less." You might make more working at McDonalds or Starbucks. Would you rather go do that? EDIT: as @DrDave pointed out, take all 3 of these factors and come up with one price. Your insurance (and your base gear kit) can be combined into one price.

    As a freelancer you have to charge more, since you will have work days without work, but, they expect the flexibility to take a meeting, schedule a shoot, almost anytime they need you to.

    Compromising on #2 or#3 will only hurt you in the long run.

    4) Project Scope at this price. This is the most important point to avoid screwing yourself. Set some parameters for each of the formats:

    -Number of preproduction meetings. -Length of a typical shoot day. Gear & crew included, gear/crew not included. -Number of revisions/iterations in the edit. -Finished running time of the final edit.

    Include a rate for overages. This can be hourly, or flat ($100 per additional minute of finished work, $200 per additional iteration of an edit, etc.) This way, if they don't know what they want and keep changing their mind, you don't pay for it. It will force them to think it through or PAY for it.

    Is it complicated? Yes. Will it protect you: YES!

    IF they don't like it or call it too complicated, they aren't serious and you may not want to work for them anyway, after learning that. They may also recognize you're professional and serious about doing good work and staying in business. They may like that even better.

    Another problem with low ball work is, if the client didn't invest much for it, they might not put much thought or energy into it either, and that leaves even more on you. Even more reason to define the project scope. It's the "Scope Creep" that'll sour a project in the long run, if some parameters aren't set in the beginning. You can also call it 'suggested project scope' and negotiate it when you get more specifics on the job.


    • Big jobs: 33% for pre pro, 33% for production, 33% after satisfactory delivery.
    • Small jobs: half up front, half when finished and accepted, if a short job.
    • Jobs under $1000 USD (according to a web designer's blog): Full payment up front. (The client knows you won't come after a small amount of money if they don't pay, so don't give them the opportunity).

    Good luck PVer!

  • If required to give an estimate, I do it by rounds. You have your rough cut, second edit, and then your final. However, if the client wishes additional rounds of editing, that costs more. Some ppl are happy with two rounds, the rough cut and then the requested changes. If they want a colorist from outside and so on and so on. Insurance: your company should carry insurance at all times, so I never put that in the estimate, but either way.

  • I highly agree with CFreak's analysis, it is a good way to calculate what your rate "should be".

    But...if you're new and starting out you might want to consider being willing to "work at a loss" (well, not so little it is literally costing you money, but I mean at a rate which is "undervaluing" your time. Such as merely minimum wage levels, or less).

    It isn't that unusual for new business starting up to operate at a loss in their early years, and you might need the competitive advantage of price to get your start (but beware of needing to shed some old clients over time as you move up market).

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE!!! YOU HAVE ALL BEEN A GREAT HELP! (It's better than yahoo answers up in here lol) thanks again. You made me one happy guy!

  • @Cfreak Thanks for your extremely informative note.

    I'm going to be doing several projects of very similar natures (basically, shoot an event with multiple stationary cameras, maybe recording sound, and providing DVDs with various options of post-production). So I have to work out what to charge.

    For example, the actual shoot. At base, it's not a big project: I come in, set up the cameras and recorders, hit Record, and two hours later I'm done. VERY basic project, guys. But I need to factor in things like wear and tear or insurance (which I don't have). So I'm ballparking somewhere between $300 and $500 to simply shoot the event.

    As for post production... the editing is two to three simultaneous streams, and I can probably turn that around inside of eight hours. DVD mastering'd depend on what the client wants: a bare bones DVD with chapter stops would be the basic, while menus and extras would be, well, extra. (DVD duplication costs are set by Discmakers.)

    The thing is, I'm trying to ballpark a budget where the client pays the DVD duplication costs ($800 to $1700, depending on quantities, turnaround time, packaging), and I get a thousand above that. Is this unreasonable? Too high or too low?

  • Get the decision makers to sign off on the concept and script before you shoot. Otherwise they'll be like "Can you change this scene and instead use one with a cat?" Seriously, they will run you into the ground in the edit and pick ups. Just like producers do to new writers with endless unpaid re-writes.