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You want to PAY me?!
April 5, 2011 8:10 AM   Subscribe

What do I charge?

My good friend is opening a cafe on a shoestring budget. I'm helping her with styling the place AND collateral (business cards, menus, etc.) I was willing to do it in exchange for free foodstuffs (it's a sandwich shop, yum!) but she is insisting on paying me, and I'm not sure what to do. I'd like to ask for a (small?) lump sum, rather than an hourly amount - but I'm not sure how much to ask for.

This is in addition to my full-time job, so I won't be spending all that many hours working for her on this project. I will be using my own 13 x 19 printer and inks to save her printing costs. I didn't find any relevant threads, but I'd appreciate links if y'all find them. I'm in Atlanta, if it matters.

Should I just ask her what she thinks is fair? It seems like she wants me to suggest an amount. Please hope me!
posted by polly_dactyl to Work & Money (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It sounds like you're willing to do this for peanuts. So pick a price that covers your costs plus whatever you think is the right combination of "fair" and "generous." Something like "costs plus x%" sounds fair.
posted by valkyryn at 8:16 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, figure out the approximate cost of materials (definitely including printer ink) and then add another sum to it. Perhaps the expected number of hours you'll spend on the project, but at your local minimum wage?
posted by Mizu at 8:19 AM on April 5, 2011


Well, you say she's on a shoestring budget. How much does she have allotted for this expense?
posted by litnerd at 8:21 AM on April 5, 2011


Well, you say she's on a shoestring budget. How much does she have allotted for this expense?
posted by litnerd at 8:21 AM on April 5 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]


"Shoestring" = a $10,000 loan that has to be paid back. She's getting most of the stuff done cheaply (her boyf is the contractor, the rent is pretty cheap on the place too) and I never expected her to even offer to pay me. Cost + maybe a hundred is sounding like the correct answer.

Thanks already, guys!
posted by polly_dactyl at 8:25 AM on April 5, 2011


A friend who did a not-quite-job not-quite-favor for me once handled it like this: "Here's what my expenses were. Here's the minimum amount it would have cost you to hire a professional. Pay me whatever you want as long as it's between those two numbers." So that's another approach you could take.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:39 AM on April 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Cost + Minimum Wage is usually fair.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:00 AM on April 5, 2011


"Here's what my expenses were. Here's the minimum amount it would have cost you to hire a professional. Pay me whatever you want as long as it's between those two numbers."

FWIW, some people would like this approach, some would find it very stressful.
posted by inigo2 at 9:09 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a good point. And it also depends on the personality of the person making the offer. My friend is a really blunt guy, so I knew if he'd meant "Give me a 10% markup or I'll be insulted," he'd have said so.

If your friend is stuck wondering "Gee, did she really mean she'd be okay with nothing more than her costs?..." then yeah, that's stressful all around.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:15 AM on April 5, 2011


My friend is the type who would be likely to choose higher, which is part of my issue. I can see how stressed she is, so making her decide (right now) could be a bad idea. Hmmm.

Really - this is exactly what I needed. I'm going to watch for new comments, but I'll close this up soon. TY!
posted by polly_dactyl at 9:23 AM on April 5, 2011


Here's my experience with hiring friends to work with/for me on movie projects:

I find it really really stressful when people insist they won't take money from me. I feel like paying them at least something creates a professional relationship, even though we are friends. The main problem I've had is, when someone is working for free, they (quite naturally) create their own expectation of how much work they feel like doing.

Most creative projects aren't perfect on the first attempt. So I've had to ask for revisions, only to have my friend tell me "well I don't really feel like/have time to do any more." At this point I am faced with the rather unpleasant choice of a) leaving my project imperfect/unfinished or b) insisting my friend do more work for free.

If at all possible, I'd suggest agreeing exactly what you will be paid and how much work you will do beforehand, in writing. That may seem not "friend-like" but in my experience being too explicit has never caused a fight or bad feelings.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I find it really really stressful when people insist they won't take money from me.

This is it precisely - thanks! I could tell by her language in the email that she will be offended if I refuse money. We've only known each other a couple of years, but we used to live together, so it's not a black-and-white business sitch. I profoundly don't want to offend her, if that makes sense. She's very sweet.

I'm still listening, (just sitting here watching Fantastic Mr. Fox,) so don't stop!
posted by polly_dactyl at 9:57 AM on April 5, 2011


Can you set out figures and numbers - as was said, between the price of costs and a LOW priced professional, have her agree to them, and then, once everything is done and the cafe's ready to go, ask to be paid in gift cards/cafe credit?

This would be less amorphous than 'free foodstuffs' but not more costly for her.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:59 AM on April 5, 2011


Or even use the cash she pays you to buy the gift certificates.... then give them to your friends and help out with publicity for the cafe as well!
posted by Salamandrous at 10:01 AM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Salamandrous, you can stay. GREAT idea.
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:03 AM on April 5, 2011


It actually works out very well if you charge them in food. You can charge whatever you're happy with, and they can pay you back as slowly as you eat, plus, because their cost for food is way less then the menu price, from their point of view, they get a big discount.

I help out with the tech support of a lovely restaurant, and I never pay for food-- but if you asked either of us (the owner, or myself) we'd both say we're getting a great deal. Because I (going from menu price), am getting paid $100/hr+ whereas they're getting my services for a small fraction of that.
posted by Static Vagabond at 11:07 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


From my past experiences, I would strongly suggest whatever you do, try to keep it as business like as possible. Even if you decide to do it for just your cost, make sure that is written up in a contract or some sort of paperwork. This will help to save your friendship if things don't end up going well on the business side, and will make sure you both know what to expect as far as the end product is concerned. This may not seem necessary, but I have seen two different friends end up losing other friends because they tried to mix friendship with business, and when one went badly, the other followed.

You can keep it simple, just a few sentences saying exactly what you are going to do (posters, design, etc., whatever), how much you are going to do it for, when it will be finished, and when payment is due. If you think your friend will end up having trouble paying you (and you are comfortable with that), you can leave a nice long amount of time for them to pay you, and that will eliminate some of the stress while the business is getting started.
posted by markblasco at 11:31 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another tip about working with people who have not done this type of work before (don't know if your friend has): specify what the process will be i.e. You will have a draft by x date and then you will go through 3 revisions but not more or whatever so that the final product is done by y date.

And definitely give her a cutoff date of when she can make the last changes before you print so you don't waste paper and ink on an incomplete document.
posted by rmless at 12:20 PM on April 5, 2011


I think she'd want you to come up with a figure such that you wouldn't feel taken advantage of if, for some reason, she never offered you a free sandwich or even had time to hang out with you anymore.
posted by amtho at 3:54 PM on April 5, 2011


I find it really really stressful when people insist they won't take money from me. I feel like paying them at least something creates a professional relationship, even though we are friends. The main problem I've had is, when someone is working for free, they (quite naturally) create their own expectation of how much work they feel like doing.

Well, most of the time the person who won't take the money knows this and doesn't want to create a professional relationship.

For example, I am a professional XYZ. If you want to create a professional relationship, my rates are $100 an hour.

Most friends would balk at that rate, and would try to guilt me into charging less because "we're friends". Still expecting, however, a $100 an hour level of service. This ruins friendships.

So, most service provider people don't charge for favors, so they can keep their friends.

Answer: ask for reimbursement on costs, and call it done. If they INSIST on paying something more, wait until the job is completely done and discuss it then. And then charge them the equivalent of 15 free sandwiches.
posted by gjc at 5:39 PM on April 5, 2011


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