Adam Savage on Underbidding and Raising Prices on Freelance Jobs

On this “Ask Adam” episode of Tested, Adam Savage answers questions that many makers doing client work ask themselves. It often feels impossible to figure out how much to charge for your work. Like many creative professions, the fees charged are all across the board and there are few (or divergent) industry standards.

In the video, Adam is asked whether it’s OK to undercharge for a first job and he says, yes, as long as you tell the client when you deliver the work that you undercharged on this one and additional, similar work will be more. Adam recounts how he was hired to make a space suit replica and he barely broke even on the first one, but know he knows the realistic cost for future such jobs. As Jimmy DiResta says, “You go to school on the first one.”

He also offers some good ways of thinking about setting your own prices (and a big part of that comes down to gut feeling) and a few industry tips, like in the print industry, and other similar services (e.g. 3D printing), a rush job is usually 2-times the normal price. Many years ago, I was asked to do a rush job for a big magazine that paid industry top dollar. It was for a 4-page piece on the latest personal tech. They said: “How about $3,000?” I said: “Can we make it $6k — because it’s a rush?” They paused for a second and said “sure.” I hung up and thought: I just got $3000 extra bucks simply for asking for it.


Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org


Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.