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Meeting with a Client

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Luke HaleMeeting with a Client
by on Feb 8, 2008 at 1:06:31 pm


Not really sure if this is the right forum for this but anyway. For the first time ever I am meeting with a client in person to discuss a project and need some advice! I have only ever completed projects entirely online so far and don't really know what to expect from a real life job. The job is in Central London, UK, it is Motion Graphics work using After Effects. I think it will be for about 3 weeks. Any general advice would be greatly appreciated, I basically want to look professional and prepared. I know some of these questions probably sound stupid, but I have no real idea what to expect.

What will usually happen at these meetings?!
Are there any questions they will almost definitely ask me?
Is there anything I should take to the meeting?
I also don't really know how much to charge, is it rude to ask their budget?
I was thinking of charging £20 per hour ($40), is that far too little to be taken seriously?

Here's a low quality link to my reel, to give a basic idea of the quality of my work:

So any suggestions for what I should roughly charge for working in Central London would be greatly appreciated, the problem is I don't really have any frame of reference, obviously I don't want to charge way too little or too much. Any help is massively appreciated!

Thanks so much,


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Mark SuszkoRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 8, 2008 at 4:13:36 pm

Congratulations, if you got an interview, you are well on the way. Companies don't waste time interviewing unless they think you're a good candidate. Just how good is what they want to find out next.

For one thing, they want to see you in person to check if you are a flake or a fake. So dress and comport yourself as a professional would. Be punctual. Be precise as you can. Remember you are an applicant, not a supplicant: you are a pro called in to help solve a problem, not an alms beggar. This is not charity, this a business transaction between equals.

Interviews are mostly about seeing what kind of person you are and how you relate to and could get along with other people. They are taking a gamble you can deliver what they need. Bring spare copies of your reel on DVD and tape, maybe even on your iPod, be ready to leave them behind along with spare copies of your CV, personal or pro references, and etc. This shows you are aware, prepared and a good planner, anticipating needs. Bring a small notebook and pen to jot down facts and questions, but keep most of your attention on the person. If you get a tour, be curious and ask intelligent questions that relate to how you would be using the stuff or how they manage the process. If you know of high-profile work they've done, a tiny remark here or there to show you have done research goes a long way. "This is where you did the so-and-so compositing for the XYZ spots, isn't it? I bet that was an exciting job! Did it take a lot of storage space up on the server?"

You'll possibly be grilled on a few technical questions or asked your professional opinion on something, as a way to confirm you are who you say you are. Think it thru before you say it. Don't get dragged into politics or sports or religion or anything like that during the small talk, keep it light, professional, this is not "The Weakest Link". Whatever you say, underneath, it should convey:

I know my subject.

If I don't know this particular answer, at least I know where to find out in a hurry.

I can deal with pressure and deadlines, I take them seriously.

I am flexible when the client's needs change.

I can think my way around or out of problems that could crop up.

I have realistic goals and expectations.

I love my work, this is not just about getting paid. I am highly motivated and inspired by the material.

I know how to collaborate, and I know how to work independently, when that's what's required.

I have some idea of what other people get paid for this work.

It might be well for you to have examples for each of those items in the back of your head that you can make quick references to. While this is a temp job, it could lead to full-time, or other references, you never know, so act with that in mind, you are building bridges to future work.

I think your rate is low. That might be a strong reason you got the interview, you don't cost much.

One way to try to explain it, if it comes up, might be that you've been charging less when you do all your work independently on your own flexible time, working on several project at the same time, dealing exclusively thru email and web with clients, or that your work has been subsidized so the rate is not a true reflection. If you had to come to an office and work, your rates would, of course, have to be commensurate with industry norms. This is a temporary gig for three weeks?
Then they are not going to cover you for benefits or anything, and everybody understands (or should) that when you have to cover your own benefits and pension, etc., on a freelance basis, you have to charge more or you are actually working below market rates.

The common opinion of people here is that you need to know your true costs, determine a rate that works for you, then stick to that rate in negotiating.

The first guy to name a figure loses.

Anybody that asks you to lower your rate on the first job in exchange for a lot more future work at better rates is a liar and your best bet is to terminate the interview right there. In over 20 years, I've never seen such a deal work out, ever, and people that make that kind of offer tend to be scammers.

To really have any power in a rate negotiation, you have to be willing to walk away from the table if they can't meet your minimum. You don't have to be a brat about about it: "Boy, I sure would love to help you with this project, it has a lot going for it, I can see in my head right now just how I would tackle it, and if the budget gets revised upwards at all, I'd love for you to reconsider me for it, or for some future project.... But my best guess on doing a project like this, based on my previous experiences, is N amount of hours. The range for stuff like this is between x and y typically, so unfortunately we're not yet at a figure I can work with, for the amount of hours I think this kind of job will take. If we perhaps could look at the requirements in another way, that would require fewer hours, perhaps we could make that work?"

And if they stay firm; "Oh well, no hard feelings, I understand you have a lot of constraints to juggle on a project like this, it just wasn't a perfect fit this time... But I really appreciated the chance to see your place and meet with you, perhaps we can do something together in the future. (start grabbing up your notebook and coat)I know things change a lot in this business, please keep my contact information on file." (Smiling warmly and genuinely, with aslight look of sympathy for their money problems, stand and put out your hand for a good-bye shake) Depart with the air of someone who has another three client meetings to get to. Even if you're just going to hit the pub and cry into your beer.

Then you remember to send a thank-you card the same day as the interview. In it, you briefly thank them for the opportunity to meet and discuss their needs on the XYZ project. You repeat that you enjoyed the place and the people, and ask them by name to give you a heads-up if another possible project ever comes up.

You'd be surprised how often a little detail like the thank-you note makes a big difference.

Homework: you need to find rate cards for comparable businesses that work out of that part of town. You are very weak in negotiating if you don't even know the range of pay for what you do. Make some calls, dig around the net for user groups in the area and ask around.

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David Roth WeissRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 8, 2008 at 9:33:38 pm


My advice to you is a bit more simplistic than Mark's.

1. Be a good listener

2. Ask plenty of questions.


David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.

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Randall RaymondRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 9, 2008 at 12:05:16 am

[Luke Hale] "Are there any questions they will almost definitely ask me?"

Sure. Here's one: "This is our problem - can you solve it?"

When they prod you for your rate - hold off stating anything other than a rate range until you have all YOUR questions answered. Ask a bunch, from the general to the detailed.

Of course, the rate question has a sister - "How many hours will this take you to complete?" The will want an idea of the bottom-line before they will hire you. Be prepared to justify your rate-time matrix two-thirds of the way into the meeting. If the last third is spent by them discussing details - you already have the job - at that point don't budge.

Lastly, I used to whisper to myself "I'm the best" with every breath on the way to a meeting. You have to look and BE confident. Enjoy the meeting as if you were meeting new friends - which may very well be the case.

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Rick DolishnyRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 9, 2008 at 1:29:52 am

This forum continues to be an inspiration.

Good advice.

Rick Dolishny
Discrete Editors COW Leader

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Steve WargoRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 9, 2008 at 4:48:34 am


I thought that your price was a bit low for the work on your reel, IF, you completed everything in a timely fashion. I am hesitant about paying too low. It usually leads to missed deadlines, too many hours and other problems.

One important thing is to determine who the ONE decision maker is. If it's up to a committee, you may tweak till the end of time. Establish a timeline and make sure that everyone sticks to it.

My one piece of advice that I have is to always charge enough and give them just a bit more than they paid for. I have won numerous clients based on simple things like using a disc printer to print a label on every DVD that goes out the door. We NEVER write on a disc. That is the first sign of an amateur.

Stand by your rate. It's already a good deal.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.

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Luke HaleRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 10, 2008 at 1:21:55 pm

Thank you so much everyone! I couldn't have hoped for better responses. Meeting with the client tomorrow, quite nervous, but not half as much as I was!

Thanks again


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grace veronaRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 12, 2008 at 3:13:50 pm

So Luke,

How did it go?! Given all this advice, was it everything you expected?

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Steve WargoRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 15, 2008 at 2:34:45 am

[grace verona] "was it everything you expected?"

I wonder if they swallowed him up.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.

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Owen LodgeRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 18, 2008 at 1:12:16 pm

Hi Luke,

I've been working in Soho as a motion graphics designer for 10 years. When I started out, I was just like you - I didn't know how much to charge or what to tell them. I didn't even have a computer at home. After days of phoning andf posting out my reel to companies (It's hard enough just getting a name off the receptionist), a friend already working gave me a number to try. They said I should come in and meet them and they gave me a job straight away. I told them I had a mac at home. Then I phoned my mate and asked him if I could hire his mac which he agreed to for £5 per day (1998). The job went ok - it was a text in space thing for Sky and I hadn't made sure all the type was dead centered - oops. You learn things all the time - soak everything up. Someone said listen carefully - good advice.

Do not bullshit - if you say you can do something, you might be asked to do it now please. People respect you for your honesty - if you say you're not sure how to do it that way but maybe this way will work equally well, that is usually ok.
The main thing is to grasp the brief well - ask all the questions you need to - they like this.

Work out how much time you want to spend on each section within the deadline. Keep the client informed of what you're doing. Try to exceed their expectations, come up with other stuff.

The sincerest form of flattery is payment and as far as money gos, the going rate at the moment is between £220 - £350 per day depending on your experience, how long a contract it is and whether it's an ad or not. When I started out, I asked my friend what to charge. He said he charged £300 per day but I knew he was a lot more advanced than me - he used flame and 3D too. So I pitched myself at £250 and no-one batted an eyelid. I still charge that now. It's very nice if you can get daily rate every day for a year from a broadcaster like Channel 4 or the BBC. I've been asked if £350 per day was ok by an ad agency. Erm, let me think about it..
Be prepared to cut it though if you feel you might lose the job otherwise. Better to be paid than principled!

The more skills you can bring to the table the better - 3D, Flash, unix, fixing things, illustration, filming, editing etc.
Update your reel regularly and keep in touch with people.

Good luck and have fun!

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Luke HaleRe: Meeting with a Client
by on Feb 18, 2008 at 1:46:19 pm

Hi, thanks very much for the advice Owen and everyone. I didn't get the whole job, the client said they might need some particle animation that I could do at a later stage in the project. At least I have more if an idea of what to expect now.

The problem is I can not seem to find more work or any projects. Is there any kind of sites that I should look at to find work in London, or people to call? I feel like I am missing something, I am sure that there are loads of freelance jobs that I could do, I simply don't see any. At the moment I look on gumtree, Mograph, motionographer and I went to 42nd Street Recruitment for a meeting with a recruiter in Soho the other day. I am not completely inexperienced, I have completed quite a few projects for people online, but they seem to be few and far between. Any advice on getting work would be massively appreciated.

Thanks so so much


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Owen LodgeWhere to find work
by on Feb 20, 2008 at 12:26:04 am

Basically, you're in the same boat as me now Luke. Apart from old clients that you should keep in contact with -- I don't enough, you should look on these:
shooting people
vfx pro
vfx tool
fx guide
animation world network
cg channel
production base
showbiz ltd.
Creative Cow

I check mandy and creative cow every day. I'm on production base I think and broadcast freelancer but bf is rubbish because they don't take old jobs off.
Phoning round places is the best way. If you can get hold of a copy of thye Knowledge or Production base, they list all the graphic production companies you need. Only thing is they both cost about £125 so try to sweet talk someone you make a connection with into photocopying the relavent pages for you.

Good luck

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