how much should i ask for? [regarding specialist application building]

    Mar 23 2011 | 4:25 pm
    hello all,
    this is a question regarding a job i have been asked to do. a person has asked to build a full suite music application, completely built for them with requests of what they need etc, plus my own input of what i think would help. the only thing i cant think about is what to charge this person doing the work. i havent done anything like this before for a sole person, more for myself that then gets let out to the public, so am a bit off on what i should charge. would anyone know, or have an idea of what would be fair of me asking. this person has bought applications i have built and sell before, but has asked me specifically to build something because he likes what i build and my views, which is nice.
    i am building a complete music suite, with midi control, fm/granular synths, fm/granular step sequencers, multiple output file access, recording plus a plethora of other features. so far its going very well and am very happy with what i have come up with [not finished but getting closer each day], and he is happy with the things i have sent him to test and if there are more ideas he has for this.
    but just figured i would ask this forum to see if anyone else has done something like this with good results and what was it they charged for it. do you ask for a weekly/monthly wage, or on what the whole work would cost, what?
    many thanks.
    lewis edwards ------

    • Mar 23 2011 | 5:37 pm
      The standard answer is: charge what you think you can get.
      That may not seem like a helpful reply, but it is one starting point in your calculation and you should not overlook it.
      Most clients will prefer a fixed price for the entire project, although some may be prepared to look at time-based rate. Either way you need to make an estimate of how much time you'll need. If it's a larger project (which seems to be the case) you should try to break it into sub-projects to get a better handle on your time estimates.
      At the end of the day you need to feel you're earning enough from you work to live from. As an independent consultant you need to factor in the fact that you're never working at 100% capacity, usually far lower than that. Particularly as a Max/MSP developer, who tend not to get the same number of contracts as, say, SAP consultants.
      That also means factoring in cost-of-living, which depends a *lot* on where you live. Going rates for development also vary according to your location. If you poke around Google you ought to be able to find lists of what people in your region charge for various development services. You may find that useful as a point of departure.
    • Mar 23 2011 | 6:14 pm
      In addition to what's mentioned above, I find no matter what you are charging, giving clearly defined estimates (an by that I don't mean they have to be entirely accurate) is key, it shows professionalism and can really ensure you start off on the right foot with your client. You can provide an hourly rate, a total estimate, but then just be clear about how rough the estimate is in relation to + or - (in weeks or %). If you are specific about where the time consuming issues might be (UI, Networking, etc...) they'll be more confident in your estimate.
      One clear way to think about it, is simply ask yourself, "what would I be making if I weren't doing this? Or what am I giving up to take on this job?" because then you can start to think about your wages in relation to cost of living over a period of time (not that it's up to your employer to keep a roof over your head).
      Remember to include things like a kill fee (if both parties agree to a breech of contract), an estimate of /h for a total of X (with a tolerance of + or - they can agree to, ie, 1 week of additional time), how much is upfront, and what are the terms if either party is not satisfied with the product.
      Also be clear about what the job amounts to regarding the deliverable. Helps to avoid feature creep that could lead to time consuming revisions.
      Or not. You know, just my 2¢.
    • Mar 23 2011 | 6:43 pm
      "Also be clear about what the job amounts to regarding the deliverable. Helps to avoid feature creep that could lead to time consuming revisions."
      This is *gospel* in all contracted computer work.
      generally agree with what has been said cb