Offering Freelance Rendering Services - Part 4

Pricing and Marketing your 3D Modeling and Rendering Services - SketchUp for Interior Designers

PRICING AND MARKETING YOUR FREELANCE 3D MODELING & RENDERING BUSINESS

PRICING

There are two main types of pricing your 3D modeling and rendering services. Hourly and per image/space. Both have their pros and cons.

Hourly Pricing

Pros:

  • Less worry about "scope creep". When something is added to the scope of work, you can more easily add on hours to the quote. 
  • You get paid for the time you put in to the project. 
  • Client is more motivated to give ample details and measurements at the onset, and to have good communication. I always let my clients know that if I have to send more emails to clarify or get more information, that time will be charged at my hourly rate. 

Cons:

  • Most clients will want to know an estimate of hours. Even if you realize the project is more complex after you begin, you may feel the pressure to keep within that range you originally quoted, whether officially or unofficially. 
  • You are trading time for money, and there is only so much time in the day. (This gives you a somewhat limited earning potential.) 

When to charge hourly: 
If the client can not provide you with If ample details to give a good estimate (you have no idea how long it will take you to draw) opt for hourly.

Per image/space, AKA Value Based Pricing

Pros:

  • Your income is not limited by how many hours are in a day. 
  • You and your client will know the total price from the start of the project.
  • If you are fast, your hourly rate goes up…without the client knowing it.
  • It is somewhat easier to raise your prices with the per project model, because all of the prices will vary. This is less noticeable to your client than hourly. 
  • You can be more relaxed with tracking time (however, you should be keeping note of how long a drawing takes you so that you aren’t ripping yourself off!)

Cons:

  • If you quote low and realize this after the onset, you may feel like you are giving away free hours towards the end of the project.
  • A long term project may be difficult to quote (see combo below).

When to charge per image/space:
If you are fast, charging per space is a great way to raise your earning potential. Also, if your client seems like the type that would scoff at how long it took you to draw something, and they don't value the time that it takes to create the drawings, go the route of per image/space. 

Note about per image/space pricing: 
If the client adds on to the scope of the project, always revisit the original quote/contract with them to see if this goes beyond the original scope and adjust as necessary. Watch for “scope creep”!

Combo Pricing

Some may opt for a combo. Give an project rate and then an hourly fee for any extra work added on. This is great for longer projects that are difficult to quote. 

Retainer

No matter what you decide to charge, always require a retainer before the work begins, with the remainder payable in either increments or at the conclusion depending on the length of the project. (The longer the project, the more appropriate it is to collect fees in intervals throughout.) You may even elect to have the entire fee collected in the beginning. It can be difficult and awkward to chase someone down for fees that are past due. 

MARKETING

Marketing is a topic much too large for one small blog post. There are many great ways to market your 3D modeling and rendering services (some ideas listed below), but nothing will rival with your portfolio speaking for itself, and word of mouth referrals. 

Portfolio

Building a portfolio is a bit less complicated for 3D modelers because you can sit down and create something with SketchUp. There is no need to have a real client, you can create drawings from a case study. You can practice on the spaces in your home, office or the homes of friends. This will take a bit a creativity and redesign on your part, but it will be a great way to flex that creative muscle. Once you have created drawings, post them to your website. 

Website

I like to house as much information as possible on my website. This will cut down on the amount of communication needed. You can view my site here: codydesignstudio.com. I have the following pages available to potential clients: 

  • Process
  • Drawing Time Overview
  • Checklist: Items and drawings needed to get started.
  • Reviews
  • About: Don't skip this one! Let clients know you are a real person, who is ready to help. 
  • Contact
  • Blog: Great for SEO if you keep up with it.

Other Marketing Ideas:

  • Facebook advertising: targeted at designers and real estate agents.
  • Social Media: post portfolio images to Instagram and use hashtags.
  • Pinterest: a fantastic search engine for designers to find you on.
  • Interact in design forums.
  • Use keywords in your site: 3D modeling, 3D Rendering, photorealistic rendering, 2D Floor plans.
  • Post reviews (ask for reviews!) 
  • Be sure to keep a mailing list. MailChimp is a great free tool. 

Whatever method you use, keep moving forward, learning, and growing with each new client. I hope that you have found this series helpful. Next up, a blog post geared towards those who would like to hire out your drawings. How to make it go smoothly and what to expect. 

Offering Freelance Rendering Services - Part 3

Today I'm talking about getting clear on the "HOW" of your freelance rendering business.

THE PROCESS OF A CLIENT PROJECT

Before your first client, it is necessary for you to have a clear process in place. This will not only benefit you, but your client will know what is expected of them as well. You don’t want to receive emails asking “What is next?”, and your client doesn’t want to chase you down for answers either. 

SketchUp for Interior Designers Rendering

A typical process usually looks like this: 
 

1. Project request: 

  • Send the client (or have a list on your website) a list of items they need to submit in order to receive a project quote. (Floor plans, materials, inspiration photos, furnishings and finishes specified, desired timeline, etc.)
  • Specify the delivery method for submittal. (Dropbox, Google Drive, website submission.) Note: I don’t recommend having them email this checklist of items unless they can keep everything in one email. If these items are sent in separate emails the details will get lost and you will spend too much time fishing through them to find specific requests when creating the drawing. 

2. Quote

  • Reply with turnaround time and quote to the client (more on this in an upcoming post)
  • Once the client agrees they can sign your contract and submit a retainer (highly recommended, once again, more on this in an upcoming post). 

3. Commence Work

  • Commence work only after contract has been signed and retainer has been received. 
  • Collect as much information as possible before drawing. Be sure to continue to collect these details in one central location/folder that is shared with the client. Again, attaching documents to an email is setting you up for disorganization and missed elements. 
  • Move through the drawing workflow. Ask questions to your client as needed, be sure to add any details to shared folder. 
  • If scope of work expands, revisit the contract and alter it together as needed. (Watch for “scope creep”!) 

4. Preliminary Drawings to Client

  • Submit initial drawings for review. These may be greyscale, have a watermark, or be black and white drawings pre-render, depending on the request and/or your desired workflow. Take care not to submit at high resolution render at this stage. Help your client to be aware that this is a preliminary drawing to ensure the design matches their vision. 

5. Revisions

  • After receiving revision comments from the client, revise the drawings and render at a higher resolution (if applicable). 

6. Final Delivery

  • Deliver final product and bill for remaining fee. 

More tips: 

  • Help your client to be aware that high resolution photorealistic renderings can take 5+ hours to render and to allow for this in their timeline. 

(Fine Part 1 here)
(Find part 2 here)

Next week I'll be concluding this series with the pricing and marketing of offering modeling and rendering services, along with a post geared towards interior designers who would like to hire out for these types of services. 

Offering Freelance Rendering Services - Part 2

Today I'm talking about getting clear on the "WHO" and the "WHAT" of your freelance rendering business.

WHO ARE YOU OFFERING YOUR SERVICES TO? 

Offering services directly to the client:

In the beginning of my own freelance 3D modeling and photorealistic rendering journey, I offered these services directly to residential and commercial clients. These clients had a somewhat clear vision and they just needed to know if their design would work out the way they’d hoped. I enjoyed this process because I was able to interact with the client directly, measure the space, and still get to exercise my creative muscle in helping them work through their ideas. The downside to working directly with the client is “scope creep”. These projects can quickly turn into helping with sourcing materials, project management, and so on (a full service interior design project). If you are hoping to solely offer drawing services, I advise offering these directly to other designers. 

Offering services to other designers “To the Trade”:

This is now my preferred client. I still love my residential clients, however working with interior designers has many upsides:

  • The on-boarding process is much easier. 
    • When I work with residential clients, there is the initial site visit, phone calls, emails and then the contract. When working with other designers, they send a project request, I quote them, and we proceed. I like this clear and concise path.
  • Designers bring multiple projects.
    • Once you have a good working relationship with a designer, adding another project to your queue becomes easy and you each know what to expect from each other. 
  • The workflow is straightforward.
    • When your business is focused on a niche like 3D modeling and rendering your workflow is more predictable and clear. While each project is still unique, the approach that I use in each is always the same. 

Offering services to professionals in other fields:

  • Contractors, real estate agents, real estate developers, product designers, etc.
    • This has similar upsides to the above. This isn’t my preferred client simply because I come from the background of being an interior designer, so I enjoy staying in that field.

NICHING DOWN EVEN MORE, WHAT SPECIFICALLY ARE YOU GOING TO OFFER? 

While building your portfolio of work, it’s important to get clear on what you will be offering. Here are some possibilities:

  • Photorealistic and Non-Photorealistic Renderings
  • Design Documentation
  • Building Permit Plans
  • 3D Floor Plans
  • 2D Floor Plans and Elevations
  • Panoramic Renderings
  • Virtual Tours
  • Exterior Renderings
  • Product Renderings

What format will the client receive this file in? 

JPEG, PNG, DWG, PDF, etc. 

My best advice for is to get out a pen and paper and record the target audience that you will start your business with (it can change later!) and what you will be offering. Don't try to be everything to everyone, choose a few from the list above that you enjoy creating. 

(See Part 1 here)

Next: The "HOW". The process of working with clients from on-boarding to final delivery. 

Offering Freelance Rendering Services - Part 1

The duties of an interior designer are ever expanding. They enter the design field for the love of creating and procuring a vision for living, but lately, many designers are finding themselves with an overwhelming amount of tasks to fulfill. One of the newest tasks that clients are asking for is to create 3D renderings of a space so that they can visualize the design as well. 

Why is there a surge in requests for 3D modeling and photo realistic renderings? 

Clients who love to watch design shows see Chip and Joanna and house-flipping twin brothers showing their clients renderings and animations of what their space will look like before construction even starts. Our clients see these shows, and wonder if they too can see their space before it's built. I know this brings about some reluctance from designers, but this push (I believe) is a good thing!

Taking the time to create 3D models of the space during the schematic design phase will help convey designs to the client. It will show massing, how the color options work together, and help the designer talk a client in (or out of) a decision. Once the 3D model is developed, 2D drawings are pulled directly from the 3D model to document the design and plan for construction and ordering. 

Many designers are finding themselves with a choice to make.

"Should I learn 3D modeling?
Hire someone in my office who knows 3D modeling?
Or should I contract out my drawings?"

Many designers choose to create the drawings themselves because it can be a wonderful part of their design process. For others, outsourcing the drawings is the right choice because the prospect of learning a new software while keeping their business running seems overwhelming. 

This opens up a big opportunity for those who love to 3D model and design, but don’t like to (or are not able to) work with clients to source and plan for remodels and new construction. Over the next few days I will be highlighting my tips and advice for offering these services on a freelance basis.

Next: Who are you offering these services to? 

Structure Sensor Review

Many of you have been asking me...

Have you heard of that new structure sensor that attaches to your iPad?
I wonder how it works!

I've heard of it, I've tried it, and I LOVE it!

The Structure Sensor attaches to an iPad, and with the use of an app, will scan a space for you. Then that scan is sumitted and becomes a 3D model (typically 1-2 day turnaround time). 

I first took the sensor out for a spin in a kitchen remodel in Los Osos, California. I'll admit I was a little skeptical at first. I thought... "really, I just take it for a little spin around the space and then submit the file?" It turns out it really that simple.

Getting the scan of a small kitchen and pantry took me a few minutes, and then I was done! 

  Find a link with a 5% off coupon at the bottom of this post!

Find a link with a 5% off coupon at the bottom of this post!

I chatted with the client throughout the scanning process, and the only time I took out my digital tape measure was to record one field measurement, so that I could compare it to the model that would sent to me in a couple of days.

It normally takes me at least 30-45 minutes to measure a kitchen that size, and I certainly am not talking to the client while I do it.

I saved the scan, and once back at my desk, I submitted it through the app.

A few days later I was pleasantly surprised with a properly built model, already grouped and layered just the way I like it! (Cost per room scan is $29 at time of this posting.)

 The resulting model

The resulting model

I was able to take out the existing cabinets easily, move the window slightly, and add in my own design. The result was this rendering...

SketchUp Rendering
SketchUp Rendering Kitchen

The end result was that the Structure Sensor saved me about 3-4 hours of measure time, and drawing time that I usually use to set up my model. This is even more time saved for those of you who don't feel as confident yet in getting you model set up and grouped properly. 

I will be posting a mini-course soon about how I've used it, a model that it's created for me, along with some downloads so that you can investigate for yourself what the sensor can create. But in the meantime, if you want to try it for yourself, you can find the sensor below. (This is an affiliate link). 

Part 2 of Entire House Remodel Series is Posted!

Today I posted part 2 of my video series on how I use SketchUp to plan an entire house remodel. This one was a brief overview of the schematic and final design of the kitchen. When I was hired for this project the kitchen had already been taken out, and the client was feeling stuck. So we had to work quickly to keep the project rolling. SketchUp makes it easy to produce some basic drawings quickly to show clients the general layouts, massing, and style. 

I'm feeling a bit vulnerable showing everyone my very basic renderings that I use at the onset of a project. Especially since we were in a rush, but this is the actual process that I take my clients through. Non-fully developed renderings and all! 

In the next video, I will cover working through the layout of the 3rd bedroom addition. 

New video series! How I Use SketchUp to Design and Plan an Entire House Remodel

Hi Designers!

I have some fun and exciting news. One of my local clients in nearby Morro Bay California has agreed to let me film and record her remodel for the purposes of showing all of you how I use SketchUp throughout the entire remodel process, from measuring to completion*. It’s a great 2 bedroom 2 bathroom house, right near the ocean with big windows and so much potential! They will be adding on a bedroom and possibly a bathroom. It’s a bonus that she and her family are simply awesome clients and have such great taste.

The first video is posted to my YouTube channel. Check it out here! In this video, I give a short tour of the house and explain how I do an on-site measure. For more information on how I do an on-site measure and an opportunity to ask questions about it, tune in to the live training session on Monday April 10th at 10:30 am PST.

The next video in this series will deal with schematic design and presenting to the clients. I’m really looking forward to sharing this with everyone to give a real-world example of how useful and powerful SketchUp can be in an interior designers workflow.

*While I will show a lot of SketchUp tools throughout the videos, this series is not meant to be an in-depth tutorial on how to use each SketchUp tool. The main purpose of this series is to show my SketchUp drawings progress throughout the project.

LayOut Template Paper Sizes Explained

When starting a new document in SketchUp Layout, you have the option to choose a template in specific paper sizes. They are listed (Letter, A4, ArchD etc.), but don't include the specific dimensions of the paper sizes in inches or millimeters (you can still find them under Document Set Up). So below is a spreadsheet of the Template Paper Sizes in inches and millimeters for your reference.

Layout Paper Sizes

to a client. (My client will also be able to print these files easily). However for larger projects I like either 11 x 17 or 24 x 36, which I then send to a local printer.

Once you have added your logo and business information to a template, you can save that into the templates section. This will help you from having to repeat these steps at the onset of every project.

LayOutTemplates

Now, when you start a new file in LayOut, it will give you the option to start with a template that you have already altered with your logo and information.

LayOut Paper Sizes

New Course! Lighting and Electrical Plan Template for SketchUp LayOut

Creating a lighting and electrical plan in SketchUp LayOut can be confusing. There are no built-in symbols to add to your drawings. With this template (geared towards residential projects), you can easily pull the lighting and electrical legend onto your drawing and create a plan quickly and easily. This course includes a template, and a few short videos on best practices for using the template. 

LightingPlanSketchUp

A few notes on the course:

  • This template will take away a few of the pain points with SketchUp Layout, mainly adding a lighting and electrical plan and/or a reflected ceiling plan to your construction documents.
  • SketchUp LayOut is required. This is available with SketchUp Pro, not Make (the free version). It will include templates from years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
  • This is not a course on drawing a lighting plan, but a course on using the provided template for your project, with an example.

Happy drawing! Please let me know if you have any questions. tammy@sketchupforinteriordesigners.com

Why I Chose SketchUp

Back in 2011 I was living in North Carolina with a strong desire to go back to school for interior design. I had two young babies at home, constantly needing me and a career in design felt out of reach. But one thing that I could do was learn SketchUp. With the help of tutorials I could even teach myself. Google owned it back them, and graciously offered the free version (now SketchUp Make), so I was up and running in no time. I made all the rookie mistakes, not grouping, putting items on different planes when I thought I was putting them on the same plane, etc. But my skills got better quickly. By Fall of 2012, after a cross country move to California (my motherland), I was back in school and using SketchUp regularly. Now, nearly 6 years later, I continue to learn new ways to improve my drawing and modeling with SketchUp. I am a huge fan of the Pro Version in conjunction with Layout.

When I present to a client I can easily show them my floor plan proposals, what that space would look like with a 3D model (a la Fixer Upper!) and then continue to refine the design with elevation drawings and detail drawings.

I’m excited to share what I have learned. From my YouTube tutorials, to my courses on workflow  and other intensives. Be sure to join the newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!

- Tammy