What to charge? - first freelance job

Hey guys

Just been offered my first paid work as a freelance animator.
(I still consider myself a hobbyist but somebody want’s to pay me for my time)

What the hell am I meant to charge?

The project will be for 2 separate short animations
featuring the same company mascot

I’m in Australia - is there a standard rate other freelance artists charge?

is it per hour or per project?

I don’t want to undercut the market cos that just f*cks it for everybody


For both animations I would charge somewhere around 750 USD

I’m also only a(16 year old) hobbyist but i’ve made quite a bit o money with 3D

Freelance contract work is typically at least double-rate of a full-time job due to the sporadic nature of freelance work. So I’d suggest the following:

1. Estimate how many hours you think it will take you to do the animations based on the specifications they give you.
2. Multiply that by twice the hourly rate you would get at a full-time job doing the same kind of work.

So for example, say that at your current skill level you would typically get paid about $15/hour in a full-time position. And say that you estimate the work to take you about 80 hours (two 40-hour weeks).

$15 * 80hrs * 2 = $2400

And don’t be afraid to negotiate. But start with a fee calculated this way as your initial offer.

And yeah, charge per project, not per hour. Just use hourly estimates to determine the fee.

hah, and always remember to tell them that if they want any additions to the concept after the work has started, it will be extra.Since some people can invent new stuff after you actually finished rendering. Of course, correcting stuff you have agreed at must be included in the original fee.You also have to say approximate expected quality, since some ppl don’t see the big difference between high-end 3d studio production and something you can manage to do as a freelancer within the approved costs.

It’s funny the difference between “types” of business…

When I do concept art I only ever charge a daily rate because clients often change their minds like trying on hats… if the producer gets pushy then I pitch a stupidly high flat rate… or walk away…

for “production” tasks though, a fixed price for delivery of the assets is usual and (as Pildanovak says) some kind of up front agreement about “change management” and costs for that, as well as an agreement of what final quality will be …that’s the norm.

Also, rendering is usually charged at half your normal rate. If revisions require re-rendering you should keep that in mind and add it to the number you come up with for the change request. This can be significant if dealing with more than a few seconds of animation.

In the end budgets are always limited and you can only get so much out of any one project.

Just by the way. Sign a contract! I happens sooo many times that the client doesn’t pay because he’s “not happy with the result” or whatever so definitely let him sign a contract!

You’ll regret it if you don’t do. Good luck :)!

thanks for the input guys

I have done a lot of 2D images, diagrams, and some CAD drawings (2D) for this company in the past and charged them $40p/h

In fact, earlier this year, I did a massive project, and got told I was “too cheap”
(I obviously worked too fast!)

But as you know - 2D is faster than 3D

I think this job will take around 80 hours total (including render time but not doubling the time at all)

I was going to charge them $40p/h x 80 hours = $3200

But I’m not not sure if that is too much or not enough
So I’m trying to find a general consensus
(preferably for the Australian freelance market)

The client basically want’s this animation to impress his “bosses” during a presentation
But I have a feeling that the bosses might not appreciate having paid $3K to be impressed for 60 seconds

I’m not about to lower my price to slave rates so I get the gig though. I would rather not do the project, than do it for less than it is worth


I think you already answered it - don’t do it for less than it is worth.

If a guy wants to impress his boss it is up to him to decide if $3k is worth it - that part is surely not your problem.

-don’t know Australian, but in the UK daily freelance rates seem to vary from £200-£400 doe…(and length of contract)

so £2200 -£4400 for this work…

When I worked in video games many companies would do the accounting in US$ rather than £stirling

if a games company charges out staff to a company a good team commands a monthly rate of about $10000 per man month ( at the time about £5500 - £6000)

so by that factor $5000 US wouldn’t be unreasonable… of course, with global exchange rates changing wildly this might not help!

This going to help me when I start getting jobs.(I have been thinking about doing it for a while now)

I must agree with some of the excellent advice you have recieved here, and would like to elaborate on it.

  • What Cessen stated: estimate the number of hours you think it will take, and double this. Not only for financial reasons, but for things not really expected, such as something taking longer than it should, or some form of reasearch on your part that the client did not foresee at the beginning of the project (pad the project - you will get better at this as your skills increase, both business and artistic). Also remember (and I am NOT a financial advisor - seek guidance elsewhere) you are responsible for your own taxes; also equipement maintenance, software updates, skills upkeep, rent space, etc. This must be wrapped into the project cost. Just because you are (possibly) living at home does not mean these should be free to the client.

Do not allow them to haggle you down due to your youth. If you CAN produce the product that they need and you have the skills as well as profesional demenure, say that is your going rate, and stick to it. If this does not workout, continue developing your skills either solo or with a community project. Nothing is as bad as getting stuck into a job and realizing you have been taken advantage of early. It makes for a lousy product, one you resent and that you really don’t put your heart into - and this will show.

Charge by the product, not by the hour. Charging by the hour is not fair to either your client or yourself. From the clients perspective, whats your motivation to work fast if by the hour, and if you are good you lose money, as it does not allow you to recieve the full value of the project, because you completed it too quickly. You also miss that great thing in the business world know as “leverage”. As your skills go up, and your abilities to produce quicken, then you can create more at a quicker pace, while charging a higher product fee.

  • As pildanovak state, always know what is expected up front. Prior to starting, create a sheet of bullet points of EVERY ASPECT that your client is requesting. Assume nothing. Every little detail must be clear to BOTH parties, or the effect of “feature creep” will come along, and you will have to eat it. Nothing is more frustrating in starting out in an industry with a bad welcome of getting walked over due to your inexperience in business. Think like the business people think at this point; not too creative, but you will thank yourself as deadline approaches and they start to change their mind.

  • Atom stated that rendering is usually charged at half rate. That is final rendering, for the final piece NOT the multitude of test renders (Please correct me if I am wrong in this idea, Atom). That is what I did when I freelanced; just because you are not working does not mean you should not be paid - your resources (computer, etc…) are being held up.

Hope this is not overkill.

@Michael W

thanks for shedding some light on the UK scene

do you usually charge per hour or per project?

It depends… for small bits of work I usually try and charge a daily rate… and I’ll outline what the client can expect to see at several points (for concept art I’ll never give a fixed price, but I might do it here for “production” tasks…)

(after 2 days you get.“X”… at 4 we’ll have “y” complete so will do a review… depending on the outcome we’ll do 2 days of changes and “finalling”…then do a “whatever”…)

Outline review points to “check in with the client” … for review, feedback and iteration or signoff. The client knows what to expect, gets some insight into how long things take and gets the point that if they request changes in direction it’s not “free” (unless they’re just a couple of hours here and there!)

for longer pieces (a month or two) I might charge a flat rate, but again I’ll outline and agree milestones and review points and also make it clear upfront and at those reviews that changes in direction that will take extra time will be charged accordingly…

Longer projects in the past I’ve either got payments on a milestone basis ( every 2-6 weeks) or I’ll just keep it simple and contract services at a daily rate ( I’m just starting a nine month contract on a “day rate” basis… could be extended to two years though I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad;)…)

don’t know if that helps, it’s never a short answer!

… I forgot to mention that those rates I mentioned earlier are because of “standing costs”… ie equipment, software licenses, ground rent fopr premises, insurance etc etc…

any big company might want to do “due dilligence” and check out your premises etc and assess what your standing costs actually are!

does that mean I will have to pick my dirty jocks up off the floor?

Thanks for the input
you’re a champ

So say I was 16 and lived in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and I’m getting better and better with Blender everyday and I wanted to start getting freelance jobs. Do you guys have any tips that I should use and really what I should charge for such a small town? I won’t be here for much longer but I am really needing a lot of money, especially to finance my new computer that I am going to use to really start 3D Modeling since it is my future career instead of just a hobby. Please help guys ;). Any advice on how to get started would be very much appreciated.

I do some freelance projects like once in 2 months. Usually company logos or web pages.
I’ve a standard price. Logo 300-400 € and web 1000€ if it’s static, and starting at 1300€ if it’s dynamic (sql, php…). If they want the whole package (logo + web + business cards) starts from 1500€ and negotiable from there.

I think your rates depends on your needs. For me that rates are good enough.

I read somewhere how to charge for logos and to sum up it said that you have to start from 500$ and then add 100$ per employee. Big companies logos are really well paid cuz the number of employees are so high that you can charge a lot of money and it’ll still be low price for the company.

I don’t really apply this rule cuz I usually work with small companies (max 10 employees).

I hope these tips helped you in some way.

I use OOS whenever I can but I’ve a photoshop license though.

Kain, it’s tough.

I can’t give much advice, or it may not be relevant, but I’d recommend doing some kind of formal art training if you can… I said art, not software btw!

a degree or diploma still count for a lot, they show a level of commitment and actually train you in how to develop ideas and artwork, and ultimately how to “think”.

Other than that, charge what you can get…or what you can persuade people to give you!


you can get it on Amazon, has rates, contracts, business advice. I don’t know how much applies in Oz (legal-wise), but its pretty comprehensive.