Tuesday, September 27, 2005

what is AP style, again?

I had an unusual experience today. I turned down a potentially big opportunity to be a freelance graphic designer/production artist. Yes, you read that correctly . . . I turned it down.

More acurately, I started dropping hints that I might not be the best person for the job and the guy caught on and started to agree with me.

Why? Hmmmm. Because he wanted me to help him start a newspaper. In two weeks.

To borrow a Valley girl colloquialism, "as if!"

Seriously though, it would be a wonderful opportunity and a fantastic portfolio builder ("What's this?"; "Oh, just a newspaper I designed and produced . . .") but while I got the impression that while he was a serious entrepreneur and seemingly nice guy, I got the wrong kind of vibe from him when it came to business ethics and organization (while I hand it to the guy that he is trying to start something, I feel he should at the bare minimum know the terms of the industry. He asked me to explain what I meant by "will you be following AP style" . . .and the style guide of the Associated Press is only used by EVERY newspaper in America).

Can I see myself juggling two part-time jobs AND a newspaper, even a weekly one? Nope. Especially not when cutting corners and disorganization are involved. Or when the payment considered "fair" is only $8/hr. for being the designer/production artist/art director/production manager all rolled into one.

Very unfortunately, the guy is trying to pay his "consultants" based on a what a small regional daily newspaper pays their staff of "designers." When I told him that freelancers would probably charge him at least $15/hr. (but should be much more!!) his eyebrows went WAYYY up. And when I pointed to a basic real estate ad and told him it would take at least 20 minutes to set it up from scratch, and then told him to multiply that amount of time by the number of ads he intended to have in his paper PLUS the actual content, the eyebrows went up again. ("Oh. Really? But the newspaper does a daily every day."). Yeah. And they have more than one person designing things, not to mention a production manager to oversee the printing and quality control.

The whole experience got me thinking, though. I should really be prepared for this kind of thing more often. If I knew what the precise fair going rate for freelance work was, and had a basic work order sheet prepped, I could maybe really do it (once I have the software, that is). As it was, mild mannered me actually told this guy that I would love to help him out as a consultant getting started, and to give me a call--but I'd charge him next time for my advice. And he said, "I understand. Thanks!"

Hmmm. The entrepreneur in me is starting to feel the wheels turning in her head!


Stefani said...

Good for you for listening to your gut. Guts rule.

gilley said...

I think you made the right decision. I would say an hourly charge would be around $40-$50 an hour. I could see negotiating to $25 if it is a long-term contract, but certainly not $8. I got paid $8 an hour to answer phones in high school. (10 years ago).

You should jump into Ruby Red! Don't let costs hold you up as far as printing - you could even print things yourself until you get up and running.