“How much do you charge for an interior rendering?”, “How much should I charge for a drive-bye exterior animation? “How much would you charge for the attached rendering?” I see this questions, (and plenty other variations on the same subject) on almost every forum I know. Furthermore, it is common practice for new freelancers or small studios to write bogus emails to others, introducing themselves as architects, just to find out what other rates are.
Although for some people it may become annoying to stumble upon this issue so often, the curiosity is understandable (up to a point). However, there are some other factors to be taken into consideration when establishing a pricing policy besides the competition’s rates.
1) Monthly expenses
The first factor in establishing your pricing policy is represented by your monthly expenses. This should include everything from the internet bill, electricity and other utilities, employees (if you have any), to food, cloths, beer, etc. A good place to start is to make sure that if you are working at around 30-40% of your capacity you will have all this covered. That means, that if you have the capacity to do 10 renderings a month, than 3-4 renderings should cover all your monthly expenses.
2) The Investments
The investments that you have made in hardware equipment, software, etc., are also a factor to be taken into consideration. How much time do you want to allow for the return of investment? 6 months? A year? If you want your investment to be fully covered in less time, it automatically means that you need to charge more, and vice versa.
3) Your desired standard of life
Are you a “big spender”? Do you plan to buy something expensive (like a car or a house) in the future with the money earned from this business? These are questions that you need to ask yourself, in order to know how much profit you need to make and therefore determine your prices.
4) The quality of your work
Everybody wants to fish where the big fishes are, but to do that you need proper skills and proper tools. You need to be realistic about this, and not aim for your Ferrari yet. If somebody else provides the same level of quality work at far less price, it’s more likely that he will get the job and not you.
5) From what countries are your clients?
All the points above are probably enough to set your pricing if you work on the local market.
However, if you are working “online”, there is still another very important factor to have in mind, and that is the geo-location of your targeted clients.
This is where finding out how much other people from other countries charge for a rendering, proves useful. You need to compare the usual rates that are applied in that specific country with your “preliminary” pricing scheme that you have established so far. If your rates are considered low for that area, than you may have a winner on your hands.
That doesn’t mean that you should be thinking of charging as much as other architectural illustrators from that part of the world… otherwise the hassle of working with a freelancer or company from overseas won’t worth. Furthermore, (from my experience, at least) most clients that look for rendering services abroad, are freelancers, or visualization studios owners that outsource their workloads, so needless to say that they won’t make any profit if you charge as much as them.
However, if you charge to low, you won’t have any credibility in front of important potential clients. Even if there is also market for cheap renderings, clients that agree to pay 200 usd for one cg image, are not professionals and in most cases they don’t know themselves what they need in the end, so most probably you will end up working a lot more for 200 usd that you would have for 500 euros.