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  • Writer's pictureKevin Lim

Comparing Rates: Hidden Fees to Look Out For (in the Creative Industry)

Hiring a freelancer or creative agency to get your marketing materials done, should be a simple process, yes? 1. Shortlist your favourites 2. Compare quotations 3. Choose the freelancer or agency you’d like to work with Hold up. Before you sign on that quotation, be sure that you know what you’re paying for – and more importantly, what you’ll need to pay for if a quotation doesn’t cover exactly what you think it does. These are a few of the more common “hidden expenses” businesses often miss out on, when looking through quotes. Final Artwork (FA) Release Fee When you engage a creative agency to produce a visual for you (i.e. such as an advertisement, poster, web banner, etc.), it’s common practice for the agency to keep the rights to the working file. This means that they will deliver the visual you requested for in a finalise format that cannot be edited. If it’s a brochure, you can send the FA files to your printer for printing. And if it’s a web banner or infographic, you can upload it online, as is. However, if you’ve created a promotional flyer for Q1 and would like to reproduce it for Q2, with some minor edits, you won’t be able to do so – as you’ll only have possession of the final artwork (which cannot be edited) and not the working files (which can be edited). So even if all you want to do is the text “January 2020 Sale” to “June 2020 Sale”, you’ll need to get the same agency to make the change for you. (And you’ll need to pay a fee for the work done.) Alternatively, you can gain possession of the working files by paying the “FA Release Fee”. Or if your freelancer/agency includes the working files with their original quote, then you can get this without paying any extra. So, if getting control of your project’s working files is important to you, be sure to ask if it’s included before confirming a project! Project Management Fees This is another reason why you might pay more for your projects that initially planned, and it’s a big reason why many businesses choose to work directly with a freelancer (as opposed to working with an agency). Let’s say you need some copywriting work done. A freelance copywriter will usually quote you for the copy that you need written – and that’s usually the final fee. When working with an agency, you may see a “project management” fee changed. That’s because the agency may assign both a project manager and a writer to your assignment – and both of them (including the agency) need to be paid. There is an advantage to having a project manager, of course, is that you’ll have someone who could potentially manage your entire campaign for you. However, if all you need is a blog article, website, brand story, or single piece of copy, then you probably won’t need a project manager (as you’ll already be managing this yourself). Taxes (GST) As an individual (and possibly sole proprietor of their business), your freelance copywriter isn’t likely to charge any taxes or service charges on top of the amount you saw in your quotation. (Most of the time, it’s probably illegal for them to do so.) When you’re working with a creative agency, especially if they’re a fairly sizeable agency, taxes (such as Singapore’s goods and services tax) may be a mandatory part of your final bill (which you should definitely take into consideration, especially if you’re on a budget and need to make every dollar count). Have a question? Just ask These are just a few of the potential “hidden fees” that could lurk inside (or outside of) quotations for creative work, which includes copywriting, creative design, web development, and more. Any time you’re unsure about a quotation, feel free to ask. This way, you can feel confident in the decisions you make and eliminate the potential for buyer’s remorse (before it happens)!



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