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Over the years I have worked in a variety of agencies and feigned interest when the subject of charging came up. I was a creative. As long as the idea was going to win the pitch/award I wasn’t bothered. The last agency I worked at was different. Commercialism was the lot of every person from the CEO to the receptionist. Time-sheets captured data. Lots of data. It took a good deal of the magic away from the creative process. But it made money and it sharpened my claws.

At times my work has been ‘free’ and money was made on agency commission through our own media booking. I have worked on retainers – flat fees every month for delivery of anything and everything. I have even time-sheeted every 15 minutes on an hourly rate for my work.

But none of these systems have ever really charged what my ideas were worth to the organisation in question. Simple functions of time and effort don’t measure the value an idea gives to a customer. Sometimes it was over, sometimes under. Normally under.

As a creative, I find conversations around charging challenging. I’m not used to it. I get embarrassed. I doubt my worth. But recently, as my fledgling business has settled down and I know I can afford to pay the bills, I have been able to confidently challenge preconceptions about the value of my ideas.

“Blimey, that was a quick turnaround Swissss. I guess we’re down to an hourly rate then?”

“It took me, honestly, just over an hour to do. But I think that piece of work I’m giving you is worth £x”

I said it yesterday. There was a momentary pause on the other end of the line for reflection.

“I think you’re right.”

15 years of highly scientific charging methods have finally given way to, frankly, a well-educated guess. Perfect.

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