Over the course of my decade-long tenure, there’s one thing I’ve come to know for sure: It’s only expected that, in an effort to determine cost and compatibility, free content would be necessary. This “content” usually includes “quick calls,” briefings/discovery meetings, follow-up/proposal conversations, final “closing meetings,” and the like. There are secondary forms of free content as well — blogs, podcasts, social media, and other relative media — and they all work to peak interest and jumpstart larger conversations.
My goal, as a freelance/contracted creative professional, has always been to create value. However, there almost always comes a point (whether I care to admit it aloud or not) when help turns into coaching — for free. And that free part does more than impact a bottom line. It’ll go on to discount value, tarnish credibility, and inevitably ruin relationships.
You’ll find — in your time working with creatives (of any kind) — that “the bottom line” is hardly ever brought up in conversation. It’s our passion that fulfills most of us; more so than the capital. It’s a blessing and a curse and more to the point: It’s why consultation fees are so very important.
Here is how consultation fees work in The Studio:
THE FEE — Set at a standard rate of $150, consultations include all of the above primary free content objectives. Most collaborations begin with a brief/introductory conversation (email/phone call), a more formal (usually in-person) briefing, a follow-up proposal review/formal pitch, and then any concluding conversations (for contract signing/”kick-off”).
THE REASON — Far beyond the value, the credibility, and the overall relationship there is specific, highly-demanded intellectual property that is distributed the farther two groups go in a discussion. Obviously. This fee validates that the deliverables within these transactions are compiled in the most accurate, and timely manner and held in the highest regard for their value.
THE TERMS — It is current practice that consultation fees are waived should a potential client sign with The Studio within fifteen days of the proposal submission or formal pitch. This fifteen day grace period can be extended so long as the fee is paid in advance to the formal pitch, after which (upon signing) a credit will be applied to the future balance.
Some other things:
Should a particular prospect require and request untraditional accommodation (a submission for formal RFP, printed deliverables, multiple pitch/presentation meetings, travel requirements, or the like) a higher consultation fee may be assessed, “as needed”, to cover those expenditures.
Should an existing client require multiple proposals throughout the duration of the relationship, these individual proposals are billed at the agreed upon hourly rate and then refunded/applied to the future balance upon acceptance or retention.