All posts tagged “charge”

Google CEO Larry Page just put Sundar Pichai in charge of almost everything

Google’s Sundar Pichai, who’s already responsible for overseeing Android and Chrome, is about to have even more on his plate. According to Recode, CEO Larry Page has sent a memo to employees revealing that Pichai will now lead nearly every major product division at the company. That includes search, maps, Google+, commerce, research, plus ads and infrastructure. The senior executives previously tasked with heading up those efforts at Google (including new world record holder Alan Eustace) will now report to Pichai instead of Page. Since YouTube is in many ways a standalone operation at this point, Pichai won’t be a middleman between CEO Susan Wojcicki and Page; she’ll still report directly to Google’s top boss.

Page will continue to…

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Adventure-Proof Power from Brunton: Charge multiple devices with these waterproof trail-ready tools

Adventure-Proof Power from Brunton

With roots in developing navigation tools going all the way back to 1984, Boulder, CO-based Brunton has applied its sensible and utility-driven approach to design toward creating tools for the modern-day adventurer. Whether seeking solace in…

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Cool Hunting

You can charge a phone battery by playing music at it

There are any number of research teams trying to build alternative power sources for your cellphone. Do you want to put tiny windmills on it? What about plugging it into a solar-powered charging bench or just holding it up to the sun? Now, at the Queen Mary University of London, a group of scientists has created a prototype panel capable of charging a cellphone off environmental vibrations like music or dinner conversation.

Researchers call the device a “nanogenerator,” and it looks like a flat metal plate with some wires attached. In reality, it’s plastic sprayed with a sheet of tiny zinc oxide rods that generate electricity when squashed or stretched — as they would be in the presence of everyday background noise. The group is…

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Aberlour’s Single Malt Scotch Whisky: An inside look at the distillery, top quality ingredients and the Master Distiller in charge of it all

Aberlour's Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Speyside, Scotland has long been established as the source for some of the world’s most refined single malt Scotch whiskies. Across the magnificent region, well-known distilleries dot the landscape with obscure facilities nestled between. There, in a town from which the brand took…

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Cool Hunting

How To Charge Clients Any Amount You Want

Did you know that the current "market prices" for design are totally irrelevant? It’s true, and what’s more is that you absolutely don’t have to follow them. You can, in fact, charge whatever you want for your designs, provided you make a few important changes to your design process.

You might ask, "Isn’t that unethical?" Not at all. I’m going to show you exactly how you can, ethically and fairly, charge any amount you want for your design work. Interested? Good. Let’s continue on.

Whatever You Want? Like, whatever whatever?

First, let’s be clear on what I mean when I say you can charge whatever you want. Designers have been trained to believe that they have to adhere to a standard price range, because it’s what they believe "the market" will bear. But I have news for you: "the market" doesn’t exist.

It’s all made up of individual people with individual needs. What one client would only pay $ 100 for, another might pay $ 10,000, or even $ 100,000. It all depends on how you position yourself and what value you provide to which people.

So yes. I really do mean whatever you want. However, there are some important stipulations to keep in mind. First thing on this list, is that you absolutely, positively have to…

Ditch The Generic

Visualize with me for a minute. We’re going to a trendy new restaurant in town. Which town? Doesn’t matter – make one up. Anyway, you and your friends are starving, and you walk into the restaurant with excitement. The waiter seats you and hands you your menus.

You see something called Poule et l’Orange Supreme de Chef de Cuisine. You’re not exactly sure what that is, but it sounds delicious. Your eyes stray briefly to the price listed on the right, but you’re so hungry and it sounds so good (it says supreme!) that you barely even register how exorbitant the price tag is.

… And Offer A Unique Experience

Or how about a more down to earth example? If you’ve ever visited Disneyland or Disney World, you know how ridiculously overpriced everything is there. How is Disney able to get away with those prices for such mundane items? Well, part of the secret is the established Disney brand.

But the other part is that, at Disney World, you expect a certain type of experience. You are literally immersed in another world of Disney’s creation, and in this world, it’s perfectly acceptable to pay $ 12 for a bottle of water that’s $ 1.50 anywhere else.

Elevate The Experience

As a designer, you can charge whatever you want if you craft your service offerings to fit your own terms. If you take basic concepts and make them your own, then people won’t bring any preconceived notions to the table, including how much they expect to pay.

Everything about the experience should feel different than the usual. If you can make your customers feel different while doing business with you, you’ll be able to charge much more than your competition. Offer a luxury experience, invite your clients to play in your world, and stay away from the generic.

Set It And Forget It

High-end business coach Jay Abraham continually stresses the importance of referring to people who buy your products and services as "clients" rather than "customers" or "users," even if that’s technically what they are. Why? Well, think about it.

When you take a client as a freelance designer, you’re not just handing them a product and collecting their money. You’re creating a relationship with them and seeing that they receive the best possible service while they’re in your care.

The same should apply whether they are physically in front of you, or whether they are mere "users" clicking around on a website you designed. It’s still your responsibility to make sure they have everything they need to be a successful user of your site. Even if they never meet you face to face, they should still feel the impact of your care and attention.

They should know that someone was on the other end of the design in front of them — someone who has their best interests at heart.

Know Your Stuff And Show Off Your Knowledge

Obviously, you have to know what you’re doing in order to command the best prices. But don’t be afraid to show your expertise and provide your clients with any information they may ask for — even if it’s not strictly related to the project at hand.

If whatever you know will help them make more money, that is information that your clients want to hear, even more so when few other designers know to give the same sort of info.

Make strategic recommendations that you believe are better than what your client asks for. You’re the expert here, not them. That means, as we learned earlier, it’s your responsibility to care for them and make sure they know enough about your service to use it independently, without you having to be there.

Go After The Big Fish

At the very highest levels, clients are willing to pay a lot of money for the very best products and services. Perhaps even more than you might think. After years of fighting stingy clients for a measly check for $ 500 or $ 1000, your eyes may bulge out of your head the first time you get handed a 5- or even 6-figure sum without even so much as a pause.

These clients are not like the ones you’ve had in the past. They’re successful, they have huge budgets, and they don’t care to quibble with a designer about their fees. And why should they? You get what you pay for, after all — even with a highly subjective service like design.

There are simply some basic assumptions that large clients make as to your skills and your ability to give them the solution they need. They also tend to leave you alone to work your craft a lot more often than lower-paying clients do. The axiom is that the less a client is willing to pay, the more of a pest they will be.

What Do You Think?

By the way, if you don’t speak French, Poule et l’Orange Supreme de Chef de Cuisine was basically "chicken with orange slices, prepared by the chef". See how powerful this stuff is?

Have any other ideas on how to raise your prices for design? What are your thoughts on arriving at the ideal price range for you and your clients?

Microsoft puts former Nokia boss Stephen Elop in charge of games and hardware

Stephen Elop may not be Microsoft’s new CEO, but the former head of Nokia is not going unrewarded for bringing the phone manufacturer into the Microsoft fold. According to an internal memo, Elop will replace Julie Larson-Green as the head of Microsoft’s Devices and Studios business, putting him in charge of Xbox, Microsoft Surface, and Microsoft’s game development efforts, in addition to the new cellular handset business. Originally, Elop had been slated to run an expanded devices team upon his return to Microsoft, but it now appears he’ll control the entire division.

The memo comes from Julie Larson-Green herself as she takes on a new role: she’s becoming the Chief Experience Officer for the company’s Applications and Services group,…

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Should I Charge for That? Don’t Forget About These 7 Crucial Project Tasks

The client snarled, “there’s no way I’m paying extra for that.” He was referring to the time I would need to research his rather complicated project.

Have you ever been challenged by a client for including certain tasks on your invoice?


Pricing services is one of the most difficult tasks most freelance web designers face. Not only are there many different schools of thought on how to price web design services, clients sometimes fuss about work we bill them for.

Most freelancer web designers realize that they shouldn’t work for free or on spec. But many have questions about what activities they should bill to clients.

In this post, I list seven common project-related tasks that clients often question. For each task, I discuss whether a freelancer should bill the client.

If you liked this post, you may also like 12 Realities of Pricing Design Services or 5 Tips for Handling Pricing Objections.

The Pricing Problem


What aspects of a project should be billable? Should you charge for the time you spend on an estimate? What about the time you spend on the phone with a client? Should a web designer charge for technical support provided after the project is completed?

There are many differing opinions about what a freelancer should include in their price. Some bidding sites actually track what a freelancer does on their computer and use that information to calculate how much money the freelancer receives.

What to include on the project’s bill can also be an issue when the freelancer provides an itemized invoice. The client may feel that they can lower the price of the project by removing what they view as an unneeded part of the project from their invoice. My client above was a prime example of that kind of thinking

Successful project completion requires many different types of tasks, even if their importance or relationship to the project isn’t obvious to the client.

Task #1. Estimates

Developing an accurate project estimate is the first step to project success. The more accurate and more detailed your project proposal is (which usually becomes your work agreement when the client accepts it), the better your project is likely to be.

Yet, the process of developing a good project estimate is time-consuming. From personal experience, I know that it sometimes take several hours to put together a good project proposal.

Should you charge a client for that time?

I actually know of some busy freelancers who do charge a fee to prepare a project estimate. Charging for estimates can separate serious prospects from those who are just shopping around for the lowest price.

Many other freelancers, however, provide free project estimates to qualified potential clients. The choice is yours.

Task #2. Research

You’re an expert at what you do, but you don’t know everything. Clients sometimes want special features on their websites that you don’t normally provide. Sometimes those features are so unique that you need to do some research to learn more about them.

When this happens, should you charge the client for the time you spend on research?

Some clients don’t think so. Their reasoning is that you will use what you learn on other projects, so the research isn’t really specific to their project.

However, some requests are so unusual that it’s unlikely that you would ever receive a similar request from another client. Also, meeting one client’s special request doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to take your freelancing business in that direction.

Task #3. Meetings

Meetings are another one of those tasks that many clients do not want to pay for. Truthfully, some projects work out fine without any meetings whatsoever.

However, other clients schedule regular meetings with the freelancers they hire. This may be a personal preference on the part of the client. In some cases, when large groups of freelancers and employees are working together, meetings are a crucial means of making sure that everyone is on the same page.

Meetings, however, can take a lot of your time. That’s probably not time that you want to give away.

I always recommend that freelancers ask how many meetings are required when they define the scope of a freelance project. It’s better to find out that the project requires meetings before you start. Too many unexpected meetings can mean the difference between a profitable freelance project and working below minimum wage.

If you find out a freelancing project requires regular meetings, you have two options:

  • Raise your quote for the project.
  • Charge an hourly fee for the time you spend in meetings.

Task #4. Tools

This task isn’t actually a task, but more of an expense. I’m referring to special tools that you purchase especially for a specific project.

The tool could be software that you buy, access to certain sites, and many other special purchases that you wouldn’t ordinarily make for your business.

Often the client doesn’t want to pay for such tools because you will keep the tool after you finish the project. However, if it is a tool that is absolutely required for the project it’s my opinion that the client should absorb the cost.

Task #5. Phone Calls


Some clients will never call you. They prefer to interact primarily through email, and that’s fine.

Other clients make the occasional call when it’s really necessary. That’s fine too.

Once in a while, you’ll get a client who loves to talk on the phone and will call you for every little thing. That’s not fine at all.

Whether the client really needs help or is just lonely, the result can be the same: constant interruptions and hours spent on the phone.

Here are four tips for handling excess phone calls:

  1. Avoid being on call. Make clients schedule appointments for phone calls through email.
  2. Refer them to email. Stress that email is the quickest way to get a question answered.
  3. Limit phone hours. Many freelancers schedule a short time each day when they accept calls.
  4. Bill an hourly rate. For extreme cases, you may have to bill the client an hourly rate for time spent on the phone.

Task #6. Changes to the Project

Scope creep can make or break a project. Scope creep refers to changes to the project or additions that were not included in the original project description.

Scope creep is one of the many reasons why you should have a contract or written work agreement. Make sure that your contract is specific about the work that will be included in the project. Add a phrase that states that additional work will require additional charges.

Some freelancers also include a statement about the number of revisions that they will perform as part of the project. My contracts, for example, include one round of minor revisions.

Of course, if the changes are to correct a mistake that you made, then you need to take care of it as quickly as possible.

Task #7. Technical Support

Do you continue to answer questions about your freelancing work long after the project is finished?

Some clients expect that you will make minor tweaks to their website and answer questions about it forever. They don’t expect to have to pay for this support either.

Unfortunately, most freelancers can’t afford to provide unlimited free technical support. While it may seem like a good idea when you first start freelancing, once you’ve built up a significant client base the demands for support can overwhelm you.

The solution is to state in your contracts that support is provided free of charge for a limited time (maybe 30 days). After the specified period of time, state that the client can purchase an extended support package for the monthly fee of $ xx.00

Your Takeaway

At the end of the day, freelancers need to earn a profit. If they agree to perform too many of these so-called nonessential project tasks at no charge to the client, they may find that their business is in trouble financially.

Ideally, a good contract should specify which services are billable and which (if any) are available at no extra cost to the client. The alternative is to not mention these services, but raise your prices to cover the cost of doing them anyway.

In the comments below, share how you handle billing for the various tasks we’ve discussed in this post.

Vandelay Design Blog

PowerPot by Power Practical: Boil water and charge your devices at the same time with this mobile thermoelectric generator

PowerPot by Power Practical

Going off the grid for a few days is one of life’s purest pleasures. While ditching modernity is sometimes a must, having a flat battery on your mobile phone or digital camera can dampen your adventure. From making a call in the event…

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Cool Hunting

Design Dilemma: Should You Charge a Family Member for Design Work?

David L. writes: I’d like to know where I stand on a possible upcoming dilemma should the worst happen. I created a completely original piece, even hand drawing the letterforms, used for the company name. The first use of the logo was on a business card (which I also designed). It was later printed on a banner for a trade show and T-shirts. Since then, a website has been created (which I also developed), and print ads for nationally-published industry magazines (which I have also created… 3 in total).

I have been paid for website and print ad development for time involved to create each. However, I was never paid anything for the original logo. I simply created it, and provided a PDF they could use for the business cards, T-shirt, and banner. The company has huge potential for explosive growth based on the nature and applications of the product it is selling.

Here’s where the dilemma may come in to play… I work with (for) my father in a different business, and this relationship may take a turn for the worse. At that point, I would lose any interest I have in “helping” him out.

My question is, where do I stand with this logo I created? Do I still own it even though it is in use already? As I said, I was never paid, but I never billed either. Would it be too late to demand a price at this point? Would I need to register this logo to claim ownership and prevent it’s use?

YIKES! When family enters the business picture, too often professional consideration leaves the scene. Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Putting the “Fun” in “DysFUNction”

Whenever it comes to family, there’s always some sort of problem, unless you assure them it’s free, you’ll make as many changes as they want, listen to stories about why they knew you’d be an underachiever, and claim no rights to the work for ever and ever…

“On top of everything else, his father reneged on a promise of giving David the company for which he was working and asked him to sign a two-year non-compete agreement”

My first question to David was to ask about his relationship with his father and what might happen if he pushed for payment. He wrote back. The 2,000 word answer wasn’t easy to read and while I’ll spare readers from the whole sad story, I will summarize it as a man trying to hold onto a relationship with a father who doesn’t seem to care… except when it comes to getting his son to do free work or work based on promises that are all to easily broken.

On top of everything else, his father reneged on a promise of giving David the company for which he was working and asked him to sign a two-year non-compete agreement. The same problems David has faced all his life with his father. David said that he loves his father but just doesn’t trust him. An untrustworthy family member who needs a contract is… a client!

Legally, David owns the logo as it wasn’t transferred in writing. His father, no doubt would disagree and fire David and never speak to him again… until he needed something from David. Would David forgive and forget (along with the financial hits he has taken all his life from his father’s change of mind), or is this the final insult, pushing a clear message that it’s his design skills that matter in the relationship and not the father-son relationship?

“He would always promise there would be money later on for everyone, but it was always for him. When I would demand money up front, I would get a teary call from my grandmother, asking my why I didn’t support family”

I faced a similar situation with my family, but chose to forgive and forget, except for my uncle. He was the kind of person who would take startup capital from my grandparents, start a business with a sound foundation, make a lot of money and then screw up and the bank would repossess his cars and expensive toys, my grandparents would pay off his house and he would go on to another business in the same manner. Each time, of course, I would get the privilege of designing his logo and branding work.

He would always promise there would be money later on for everyone, but it was always for him. When I would demand money up front, I would get a teary call from my grandmother, asking my why I didn’t support family, and what a genius my uncle was and how I could do very well if I worked for him. He would call to ask where his design work was and I would ask where the payment was. Then grandma would call and cry some more.

After a half dozen businesses, he was left with no car, no house (and, when I was cleaning out my late grandmother’s house, according to some papers she stashed away, probably to be found after she had passed away, a debt to her for a half million dollars, just in five years since my grandfather had passed away) and he had yet another business idea and he asked for another logo, packaging design, etc. This time I insisted on money up front. He insisted we would “all make money later,” but I stuck to my guns and after a few calls of him angrily demanding the design work and threats to get an art student to do the work for free (and crying calls from my grandmother), he got the message that there would be no work without payment, which included past due payments.

What Does Your Family Mean to You?

We all do many things for family, so where does it end? Family can be connections for a better job (Uncle Bob’s college roommate is now the president of a major TV network), provide support in tough times, and be the biggest pains when you just need them to shut up… with love in your heart, of course.

So, my advice to David, and anyone else with family that cannot fathom that being a designer is a professional job that deserves a professional fee, is to decide if doing it for free is really going to haunt your sense of guilt or is one of those things you do out of love and kindness.

His father and my uncle, of course, kept proving that there was no love involved on their part, which sends a clear message — business is business and if “you’ll be paid later” is part of the plan, then there should be money and no fear of asking for it… over and over and over until the words, “where’s my money?” is scrawled on that relative’s tombstone.

The best avenue is just to apologize, look sad, tell your relative you’re too busy to work on their identity, brand, and hair-brained scheme and refer them to a designer friend… or, with some family members like mine, a designer enemy, heh-heh!

Send Us Your Dilemma!

Do you have a design dilemma? Speider Schneider will personally answer your questions — just send your dilemma to!

Speider has created designs for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson and Viacom among other notable companies and is a former member of the board for the Graphic Artists Guild and co-chair of the GAG Professional Practices Committee. He writes for global blogs on design ethics and business practices and has contributed to several books on the subject of business for designers.

Image ©GL Stock Images

Design Shack

Manslaughter charge turns to murder after prosecutors examine suspect’s tweets

A series of tweets have helped upgrade a California resident’s manslaughter charge into a charge of murder because of their morbid tone. The Oakland Tribune reports that 18-year-old Cody Hill received the initial charge late last month for allegedly hitting and killing a bicyclist with a speeding car. But prosecutors have now managed to elevate the charge partially because he allegedly invited his followers to “come on a death ride with me” and retweeted the phrase “drive fast live young” (which appears to be lyrics from a recent Tyga song).

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