Skip to main content

When working for a client, how do you plan enough time and money during pre-production? How do you budget resources to ensure a quality project? This week we are looking at a question from a student about budgeting time and finances for client work.

STUDENT QUESTION: How do I budget time and finances while planning client work?

JOHN-CLAY: You can think ahead of how to charge enough money to try to build in the time to make the project well for them. And part of it is just tracking your time. When you do practice projects, start tracking how long it takes you to do different parts, so that when you go to bid projects, you’re accurately charging for the time it takes in pre-production, production, even post. Post is where a lot of times we hit revisions and extra requests and things like that. So don’t charge on the wire, don’t have to squeeze into the box to say, “If it goes any over this, then it’s going to be tight.” Try to then take and give yourself 10%, 20% extra for space so that you don’t have to charge the client extra if they need more revisions, so that you can serve them well.

After you've worked with a client, sometimes you have a better idea of what may be needed to do a project well for them. Click To Tweet

And as you do projects and track them, you’ll get better at knowing what those things are. After you’ve worked with a client, sometimes you have a better idea of what may be needed to do a project well for them. And as you get better and as you’re able to hire other people, that scales the level of work that you’re doing that you can post in demo reels and show to other clients, to then continue growing and building on top of that. When I was starting out charging money, the thing I was always trying to guess was how long the project was going to take, how much time was I actually putting into it and then trying to not get that number wrong. If I estimated a little bit over, that would give me the space to get in there and dig in and do a little extra, or do another round of revisions if they needed it.

So I don’t mind overestimating even intentionally a little bit just to make sure that what they are expecting to pay I have then the resources to do the work for them. How do I charge enough money to have enough time? A lot of it is trial and error. You just have to take a guess and then do the work and track it.

I used to use a lot of little time trackers, start tracking and then do the work and then stop it and see what it was and write it down. Then you start to average and you don’t need trackers as much anymore because you just kind of get instinct. You just kind of know how long things take, then you give a little extra space, just because plan A is hardly ever the plan that gets implemented. We’ve always got B and C and D and so on. So start practicing, start charging money and see where it goes from there.

Bethany Meckle

Bethany Meckle

Content Curator

Free Educational Content Straight to Your Inbox.


Subscribe and also receive the free Download of "6 Steps to Start Your Film Career Without Film School":

Boom! You're in :D