Yesterday, a designer had a question about what services she should offer and if working for big clients might be biting off more than she can chew. I thought this question and answer might be useful for clients and designers alike. Read through and let me know what you think in the comments.
I’m a freelance designer [and], I thought you might be able to give me advice on how you apply for RFP’s? [Requests for Proposals]
I’m trying to increase my client base and there are a number of Government and corporate requests that I know I can fulfill however, I find that they are looking for the whole package. That is, they want the design, printing and sometimes even distribution covered in the quote.
Would you apply for this opportunity and hire third party contractors or do you think that a Graphic Designer should apply solely for request specific to just design and leave the larger opportunities to the local marketing companies?”
First of all, I’d really consider if this is something I could do by myself. Most large corporations have 20+ designers working for them in different departments and many web designers don’t also do print design, and most designers don’t also do marketing. They are 3 completely different skill sets, and while a few freelancers may posses all three, I’m not sure a client would be getting the best work by assuming that a team of one would be the best fit.
I do have a couple of small business starter packs that include a template based website, social media photos, business cards, logo and a postcard (or some combo of those). I’m a big proponent of flat rate vs. billable hour pricing, and I find that most companies like that too.
If you’re going to do printing, you’ll want to find a good printer to work with long term. A lot of people use Got Print & Vistaprint because they’re cheap and they work for most small businesses. Personally, I prefer to work with local printers who I can develop a personal relationship with. You can get quotes from printers on your own. I usually upcharge for my time in doing that.
Designers don’t normally deal with distribution, so they’re probably looking for a marketing firm & may not hire you anyway, since this isn’t your area of expertise. You can however get quotes on email/mail distribution by googling/calling/researching around. Again, upcharge for your time is appropriate.
Hiring subcontractors is a legal hassle that most small time freelancers do not want to deal with. For example, do you know how to file taxes when hiring a subcontractor? I don’t, and I went to business school–I’d have to go speak with my accountant and figure out what I’d need to upcharge to compensate and if it was worth it financially to even offer this service.
I think an itemized invoice/estimate is the way to go.
Post Card Design (front & back) – $300
– includes: x, y z + short description
Printing – $100
– 1000 cards, recycled paper, card stock, whatever
Distribution – $300
– your cards mailed to 1000 local businesses and residents that fit your demographic need based on age/income level/etc
& just go down the list like that for each item/service.
I mean, you could go out on a limb and try it, but if you fail, would it be worth your reputation? If you succeed, are you looking to do the work of an entire agency by yourself on a larger scale?
I guess it depends on your long term goals. If you want to open an agency in the next couple of years, screw it…go for it.