Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Freelancing Part 1 - How Much to Charge?

Lately I've been freelancing a lot which has been great. I love the flexibility and control I have over my own time. I'm so busy, however it's hard to just manage that time. But my biggest worry is negotiating the right rate.

In order to figure out the right rate I asked several friends & colleagues for their insight. It's interesting to compare what they said:

Susan pointed me to this article which offers a calculation of freelance rates based on what you would be making if you were getting a salary. According to this I should be making between $90-120/hour. Calculating Your Freelance Rates - Part 1

A friend spoke more about Stock options. Since I work with a lot of start-up companies this is relevant. They are always trying to figure out creative ways to pay employees which I find does NOT work especially if you have overhead. He says, "...They should be indifferent between paying you in cash versus stock- perhaps they are trying to "get a deal" from you. You should ask them what the shares were priced at when they raised money- that's effectively what they are paying you: (number of shares * value of shares at the previous funding round). Just like Mad Money- shares and share price."

Also said to go check out Salary.com to see what you should be making.

Tam directed me to the salary survey on Coroflot.com which came up with numbers way below what Salary.com shows. This is weird, maybe Coroflot doesn't have a large enough set of data to be accurate?

Pedro Sostre, a design director I admire said it's better to politely decline work than take a cut on price. Many people who go the budget route may return in the future because they're not happy with the cheaper work.

Keara, another design director I admire has always told me to stick to my guns in regard to rate. Citing that there are not than many design directors who are set up to design high traffic, interactive media. Taking into account these overhead costs is a huge deal:
- Cost of software
- Cost of hardware
- Utilities, and recurring expenses like the phone, internet & ISP
- Payroll for employees & sub contractors
- Rent (or mortgage)

All these factors add onto your rate. I would love to see comments from other internet designers about their rates and their success stories.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Top Keywords Drivng Traffic IG - February 20 - March 20 2008

It's interesting to look at my analytics and see what brings people to this blog, and which posts are the most popular. Here are my top keywords from February 20 - March 20 2008.

#1 "Getting Out of Jury Duty"
Or some variant of this theme. It's extremely popular. I wish you people would leave some comments!

#2 Massify
Or some variant on Massify. Again for crist's sake leave some freakin' comments!

# 3 "Geometry"
Or some variant on the word. Hmphf!

#4 Three of my friends there in the side bar...
Let's just say, Angelique is my #1 search term friend, followed by Tam. Can you guess #3?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Stranger In Canada Can Read My Mind

OK. This teenage girl in Canada has some how described my torment about digital communication. Sigh. Well, I suppose I have more baggage and history than she does. Enjoy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Believe it! Busy in Baltimore

This week, whilst crashing at Fran's in Baltimore I'm super busy. Would you believe I have a ton of freelance? It feels GREAT to finally be free from an office, truly independent, and best of all not paying rent. Hooray!

I'm sooooo busy I probably wont be posting any more this week. OK maybe some Radar posts see the nifty picture window on the side. Next week it's my first foray back up to New York City where I'll be talking to some peeps and scouting out new work.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Finding Art Part 1 - Museum Tour 2008

The New York Times published an excellent special section yesterday dedicated to museums exhibits. If you missed it, this article The Choice Shows Around the Country, highlights some of the most interesting exhibits.

Now if only there was a list like this for international art shows and events, festivals, workshops, and more. Hmmmm

Monday, March 10, 2008

Total Food Porn Moment #1

TFPM # 1 - June Taylor

The New UI - Part 1 - Inside The Art

I always felt like so much more could be done in interaction design than what we're doing now. I always feel like corporations are really too cheap to invest in the design research to get to place of real innovation in software product design. There was a fantastic article in this weekend's NYT about new interaction models...

Coming Soon: Nothing Between You and Your Machine

...“The old paradigm is breaking down,” said Paul Mercer, senior director of software at Palm Inc. “It used to be that you needed to be a visionary and technologist like Michelangelo, but we’re turning that corner.”

INDEED, the more powerful graphics-oriented software has spilled over into the creation of palettes for a new generation of software-oriented artists. One new programming language, Processing, is an extension of Sun’s Java designed specifically for students, artists, designers, researchers and hobbyists who are interested in programming images, animations and interactions. It has been used extensively at “Design and the Elastic Mind,” a digital art exhibition now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York...

Links from this article:

- Cooliris

- Design and the Elastic Mind now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

- Apple iPhone

- Nintendo Wii

I would LOVE to find more info on this Sun Microsystem "processing" software mentioned in this article. But it seems to be elusive.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

An Informational Spring Cleaning with Bookmark Surprises

So I just moved back to the east coast after living in San Francisco for 13 years. (SF is great but I got sick of the cold fog, the greed, and the overpriced rents) For the first time in years my email inbox is quiet. You'd think I'd be happy about that, but I miss the attention. I think I'm now receiving more spam mail than friend mail. Sigh. While I'm waiting for my stuff to complete it's trip east, I'm left with my trusty old powerbook, and nothing much to do but get organized.

First the email. Fortunately I switched to web based email a couple years ago, which makes things simpler. Like a tyranical queen of the digital domain I deleted EVERYTHING out of the Yahoo! mail account. Who needs Yahoo? Apparently Microsoft! Next, I tackled my gmail problem, slashing archived mail like a Bazilian Rainforest. For christ sake why am I so open??!!

Next comes the pandoras box of bookmarks. Over the years I've saved sets of bookmarks, from many different work computers and personal computers, the sets have collected, for the most part, here on my laptop. Going through them is like a stroll down memory lane. (no pun intended) My biggest shame is that most of my bookmarks are related to work for various projects, or competitive research which I have done throughout the years. Probably only 5% of my bookmarks have any personal relevance. It's just sad that I've managed to save more techy geeky info than information I actually care about, like art, travel, and food... I feel like a looser.

Last November I was working on a new "social bookmarking" website sortof like a Yoono meets Clipmarks but way more user centered. Unfortunately that project died over Christmas when the market tanked and my partner got scared. I still have the prototype and I own the domain, and I might resurrect the project... But today a recruiter contacted me about a position at Yoono! I had to tell him I only consult for start-up companies. No full timey for Stephy at start-ups! Anyway, I pretty much concluded that all bookmarking sites suck when I did all that research. Except for Stumbleupon, Google Notebook, and Digg. Is Digg a bookmarking site?

Back to the bookmark graveyard. Look old friends! It was nice to look up the Other Stephanie again, but her website's expired. Then retracing my friends band Sydewynder which turned in to a band called The Mayhematic which is apparently a rant about Peak Oil. After purging most of my old bookmarks I decided to let Digg and Google do the remembering for me. Dwayne, please get more cultural categories like Art and Travel into Digg! :o)

Monday, March 3, 2008

How to Slash Your Operating Expenses MOVE AWAY From Silicon Valley

Studioroom has relocated to the East Coast. We are temporarily set up in the Washington DC area while we update the website and explore opportunities. Since we slashed our expenses to a tenth of what we were paying in San Francisco, we can afford to travel to you! Please don't hesitate to contact us for any of your interaction design and user experience design needs. design@studioroom.com