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iCade

Wanting to become a Decorator. Need Pricing Help please.

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Hello there!
Ever since I joined Second Life, and got my first parcel two weeks in, I have enjoyed decorating, as well as landscaping. I have landscaped everything from small 512sqm plots, to 8196 sqm parcels. Now I would love to make this a profession. I would like to either work for a private estate agency as a landscaper and/or for private residents as a landscaper/home decorator. 

I have a lot of houses, gazebo's, platforms, building kits (rivers, pathways and so on) as well as landscaping items for tropical sims, grassland sims, forest sims, fantasy sims, medieval sim's as well as winter sim's. I can work with items that are given to me (rezzed on the land for me to work it perfectly into the scenary, or I can rez my own objects.

I am fully capable of terraforming and working with/on skyboxes.
I can create gardens and winter skyboxes.

Now my big question is, how much should I charge depending on the different parcel lots?
Should I pinpoint the price on the size of the parcel landscaped/house furnished, or on the time I spent?
Depending on how you answer, how much should I charge starting at 512sqm all the way up to an entire Sim?
How much should I charge per hour? I neither want to undersell myself, nor do I want to set my prices far too high.
How would I find people interested in this? I have never had a business on here before, and while I am already writing Estate Agencies, I am stumped about how to perhaps get hired by private residents.

Also, as an example here is my 4096sqm parcel that I finished today.
Pictures were taken in different windlights. Image quality has been reduced to downsize the kb size.

Resume4kparcelforest1_001.jpg

Resume4kparcelforest1_002.jpg

Resume4kparcelforest1_003.jpg

Resume4kparcelforest1_004.jpg

Resume4kparcelforest1_005.jpg

If you are interested and would like a private tour to gather all the details and thought put into everything, please do not hesitate to IM me =)

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well...if you love doing it, then i would do it for the cost of the materials until you can get references.  then maybe you can think about charging?  just sometihng to think about.

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Hello Ilyra, thank you for the response, though I am not quite sure what you mean by your response?
To me it could mean so many things, such as whatever I place down, I track down the cost off and have that be my charging fee? Or did you mean it differently?
What if the person hiring me a) sends me the items to use or b) rez them for me, give me building rights and I move them about?

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That's what I meant.  If they give you everything then you don''t have anything that you have to pay for.  If you buy the materials, then they pay for the materials only.  This way you can keep doing what you love and try to build up a reputation.

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Alright, that leaves me questioning though as to what to charge when all the products used are my own :3 I do have a lot of copy things, as well as full perm sculpties and the likes :3

And I would also like to have a price range for when I have built a reputation :)

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Buy full perm materials and use those in your landscaping. Set them for sale and sell those things as well as setting a price for your time.

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I'd start with the retail value of your materials plus a decent RL hourly rate for your time and work down from there. Get a good sense of exactly how long it takes you to do something, and what it would cost the buyer if they were to purchase all the materials themselves.

Your work is beautiful and your product is a luxury item, so there's no reason to undervalue. So get a sense of what it's worth first, then you can negotiate, taking into consideration other value that the job may have for you (exposure, referrals, opportunities for sale, how much you want to do it and how good it will look in your showreel). In a perfect world, you shouldn't have to discount for any of these things, but until you're established there are obvious tradeoffs. Pam's idea about selling is great - a negotiating point could be that you, for example, get a small shop on the sim, in exchange for a discount.

There's nothing wrong with asking for what you're worth - if 2 out of 3 people in SL say it's too much, but the 3rd buys, then you're probably on the right track. (And one week's work at your real hourly rate is better than 3 weeks at 1/3 of your rate, unless you really really want to do the build for other reasons.)

But do beware the people who say "oh you'll sell a ton of these" when trying to convince you to do very specific custom work for them for next to nothing. And never give them copy/trans versions of your plants etc.

When you quote, make sure to itemise exactly what people are getting (make a list - you'll be surprised how much there is), and be clear about your terms (% deposit, timeline, etc). Knowing exactly what's involved is part of being professional.

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From those photos, you're certainly talented and have an eye for landscaping (you'd be surprised at the number of Landowners that are clueless in that area!). Develop a Portfolio of all your completed projects....you can buy one of those Thinc catalogs and insert your photos.

I think you should have 2 rate cards and be flexible in using either one depending on project and type of customer.  I would do one based on land size......and another one based on hourly rates.

If you build items on the land, like waterfalls, fountains etc ....on top of your landscaping services....then you can charge more.

 

Pricing in Second Life is very difficult! There are no standards!

What you might normally charge 2-3k for , another person might do the same project for peanuts. It's the same when selling content...you'll see similar quality of houses being sold for as little as 250 L....and as much as 2,3 or 4k. My advice is don't undersell yourself....if you're good at what you do....then charge accordingly. Peanuts won't pay your Tiers or material costs!

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(wasn't supposed to be a reply to Pamela but the OP)

When you're doing something such as this, it's a consultative sell.  You can itemise as Zanara outlined, you can set an hourly rate but I wouldn't be inclined to quote that myself.  Price the job instead even though you're working on a mental rate in your calculation.

Then comes the "sell".  This is where the entertainment starts.  You have a price in mind, the client has a budget.  It's always worth finding out what that is before starting since if you're so far out of each others ballpark, there's not much point playing.

There are those who appreciate the notion of work in SL actually having a value which should be compensated for a realistic amount and then there are those who seem to feel that if it costs more than L$50 it's waaaaaay too expensive and think you're off your trolley when you say "Sure I can landscape your whole sim, that'll be L$100,000".  Of course, they may be thinking of an hours rough terraforming and a few Linden trees versus your vision for what you intend to do. 

If you're not sure on how to open that conversation, get as much information about what they want and then you can say

"Well considering what you've told me, jobs for other clients who had similar requirements paid between <insert value> and <insert higher value>.  Are we in the right ballpark?"

If you're not, then no harm done and you can walk away.  If they don't flinch you undersold.  If they wince, you're about right.

Next up, the response might be for them to offer lower.  Don't feel forced into a silly see-saw negotiation where by some "convention" you have to meet at the middle!

There is no need to discount just because the client budget doesn't match your asking price!

Client: "Whoa, that's more than I had in mind, how about if I offer you half."

You: "Sure that's no problem, I can do it for half but let me ask you, which half of the sim would you like me to landscape?"

Don't discount, take away the solution.  That example was cheeky but brutal but a more realistic response might be

"Sure, I can appreciate that the figures we have in mind might not meet.  I've included a lot of elements, some of which I could leave out and you'd still be satisfied.  Which parts could we remove in order to best meet your budget?"

Onus is back on the client, they have a means to meet their budget, without you having to devalue your work.

Or you could be really ballsy and go like this:-

Client: "How much?"

You: "L$100,000"

Client: "haha, no way, 50k..."

You: "Now the price is L$150,000...jump in any time..."

However for this to work, you have to the only supplier and they have to buy from you for some specific reason and there's probably no chance of repeat business, nor does there need to be.  It's a fun one if you have the chance though.  Works both ways too, try it next time you buy something where you get to offer lower and lower than your original offer price.  Again, just make sure that the seller *has* to sell and has no other buyers in sight or it's a non starter. :P

Now i'm rambling so i'll shush :)

SL or RL, I recommend this book as great reading http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Get-Real-Not-Play/dp/1591842263/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330766047&sr=1-1

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Thank you all kindly for all the responses!
And thank you so much Sassy for the incredibly detailed and explanatory post, it pinpointed exactly why I have been asking this question. Most people I know and have come across think 300L for a well made outfit is too expensive because they've been spoiled by merchants selling nice outfits for 150L and below.

Me? I have bought several holo deck scenes at 2000L each, makes my friends jaw drop, but the incredible quality and detail is worth every linden if not more than what I paid for them. I did get a nice discount however because I contacted the maker wanting to purchase many at once. I gladly accepted it, but would have not asked if I hadn't been offered it.

I was however hesitant to believe there's other peope thinking like me and while I was asking for hourly rates/plot size prices I of course had some in mind, but those were practically underselling. I was thinking of charging 1000L for landscaping/terraforming a parcel the size of mine (4096 sqm) but considering the eight hours I spent on mine that doesn't justify it. I am a stickler for detail and want to make the most of the space available. I think it through, plan it out, landscape and prowl the catalog for hours on the side for the perfect little somethings to add.

So I will definitely do what you said Sassy, I'll not have set rates, but more of a "Landscaping starting at 1000L." sort of business and deciding/haggling on a price until both sides are satisfied with the deal.

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iCade wrote:

Thank you all kindly for all the responses!

And thank you so much Sassy for the incredibly detailed and explanatory post, it pinpointed exactly why I have been asking this question. Most people I know and have come across think 300L for a well made outfit is too expensive because they've been spoiled by merchants selling nice outfits for 150L and below.

Me? I have bought several holo deck scenes at 2000L each, makes my friends jaw drop, but the incredible quality and detail is worth every linden if not more than what I paid for them. I did get a nice discount however because I contacted the maker wanting to purchase many at once. I gladly accepted it, but would have not asked if I hadn't been offered it.

I was however hesitant to believe there's other peope thinking like me and while I was asking for hourly rates/plot size prices I of course had some in mind, but those were practically underselling.
I was thinking of charging 1000L for landscaping/terraforming a parcel the size of mine (4096 sqm) but considering the eight hours I spent on mine that doesn't justify it.
I am a stickler for detail and want to make the most of the space available. I think it through, plan it out, landscape and prowl the catalog for hours on the side for the perfect little somethings to add.

So I will definitely do what you said Sassy, I'll not have set rates, but more of a "Landscaping starting at 1000L." sort of business and deciding/haggling on a price until both sides are satisfied with the deal.

IMO that is too cheap for a 4096 sqm plot (1K)...you're underselling yourself. I wouldn't flinch if you asked for 3k based on the quality of your work.

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iCade wrote:

Thank you all kindly for all the responses!

And thank you so much Sassy for the incredibly detailed and explanatory post, it pinpointed exactly why I have been asking this question. Most people I know and have come across think 300L for a well made outfit is too expensive because they've been spoiled by merchants selling nice outfits for 150L and below.

You're right and the one thing that is in favour of the merchant selling clothing for L$150 is volume.  Your opportunity for a volume opportunity is slim at best unless it's for an estate that wants the same thing over and over, which is very unlikely anyway.

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1000 is ridiculously cheap for custom work. Remember, owner of a 4096 is paying L$3750 in tier a month.

Have you thought about creating/selling garden prefabs? Anyone can buy plants, but not anyone can arrange them as well as you (or has the time or eye for it). If you have enough original creations or if the perms/TOS of the items you're using allow it...

Make them mod/copy and work out ways to make them modular so people can customise as needed. (And reuse every texture you can to make them fast rezzing.)

Something like a 30x30 (50x50, whatever - work out popular land sizes) "garden skybox" might find a market, esp with the pet keeping crowd.

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Unfortunately my building skills are quite limited, I am more of  a decorator than a builder. I do have full perm things, but making tree's is not something I can do even less so sculpted ones. I only use high quality things, I don't like the look of the really flat flowers and bushes, I'd like some depth.

I would however love to be someone's business partner who does the plants building and me the decoration.
I did build a block house, failing on the scripting though xD And I did make a snowglobe landscape skybox, still trying to figure out how the rez box works.

On an update. A lovely lady contacted me, asking for my services, I spent about 6 hours on roughly 3000 sqm of land for the price of 5000L.

Here's some pictures :)

project1v2_004.jpg

project1v2_003.jpg

project1v2_007.jpg

I had a lot of fun and am so happy the lady loved the outcome~!

I spent most of the time trying to cover up the ugly LL grassland texture xD

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Madeliefste Oh waves at iCade

Nice to see my parcel here in the forum. I'm indeed very pleased with your work. It's a pity I never made a pic of how it was before.

That might be an idea for you as well, 'before' and 'after' the metamorphosis pictures.

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Lots of good advice here Icade, and there are a few more words of wisdom (from my experience) I can add.
First off, the passion and sense of wonder for nature and design I sense in you will carry you far!

I think it might help to call yourself a designer, a landscape designer, a landscape architect, a landscape painter, an artist, or a designer.  Somehow the term 'decorator' seems to trivialize what you do. You ARE a builder too, even if you use elements created by other people here - the underlying design is as important as any of the elements you will use to create your landscape painting.

Also, what type of designer do you want to be? Do you want to come in where someone has placed their house and so landscape around it by planting a few trees and plants around in a pleasing way, or do you want to create a revolutionary, unique design?  The latter takes a lot longer so be sure and price accordingly.

This has been mentioned before in this thread but it can't be emphasized enough - be very very clear on the boundaries of the job and create a written agreement that is signed by both parties. Include exactly what you will add to their land in terms of garden elements (waterfalls, streams, pathway, lights, general feel and style or theme, time-line for when job will begin and end, and so on). You may not know the design until it unfolds, but you can give a general idea of what will be included so your customer can't come in at the end of the job and say something like "but I thought there would be more waterfalls". To begin the process ask the client to write a list of what they want, and then add to it or change after a first consultation. Ask them to be very specific, and ask more questions if they have trouble articulating. The fact is that most clients don't quite know what they want until they think and write about it.
I've found it really helps to have the client send a pic (either RL or in SL) of landscapes they like to get a general feel for their preferences too, and ask them what their favorite colors are.

Also very important - specify in your agreement that once work begins if they want major changes the price will increase. I have enountered clients who want to use me as a kind of drawing board and this can really eat up extra time. Many are wannabe designers who bought some pretty trees and plants and discovered there is something underneath it all (the design)  they can't figure out. They are often exploring landscapes in SL and can change their mind at the drop of a hat when they see a new theme/style they never encountered before. I simply say something like "sure I can change over to that theme, but it will cost you X amount more because I've just spent 2 days working in the theme we initially agreed on".
One horrible example of this is when I built an entire village in a specified manner that hubby wanted (California fishing village style) and they were very pleased with it, but later on the wife saw a Venice type village and wanted me to build an entirely new village in that style - and do it without paying me one cent more!

Remember that there really is no such thing as a small job - even a small job requires drawing up the agreement/contract and much of the same customer support that most large jobs require.

It's also important to get half your money up front and half when done, or if a huge project break it down into thirds so you get a payment when work begins and about half way through. I've had couples break up in the middle of a job and nobody wants to pay me.

I know you only asked for finanical advice, but I have to add some emotional advice as well, and that is to develop a very thick skin and never let the craziness you will encounter in this business take away your love of nature and creating. If you are sensitive, as most artists and lovers of nature are, the demands of a a few annoying clients can really get to you. I have kept note cards of the worst encounters and the best. Writing about the worst encounters is a kind of catharsis and helps me move on, and writing about the best serves to remind me that most clients are nice and fair people.

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Luna Bliss wrote:

 

Remember that there really is no such thing as a small job - even a small job requires drawing up the agreement/contract and much of the same customer support that most large jobs require.

It's also important to get half your money up front and half when done, or if a huge project break it down into thirds so you get a payment when work begins and about half way through. I've had couples break up in the middle of a job and nobody wants to pay me.

 

 

Ahh yes, this passage was missed  by most  of us....but very important especially with larger & more time consuming projects. (Stage payments just like in RL)

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Luna Bliss wrote:

This has been mentioned before in this thread but it can't be emphasized enough - be very very clear on the boundaries of the job and create a written agreement that is signed by both parties. Include exactly what you will add to their land in terms of garden elements (waterfalls, streams, pathway, lights, general feel and style or theme, time-line for when job will begin and end, and so on). You may not know the design until it unfolds, but you can give a general idea of what will be included so your customer can't come in at the end of the job and say something like "but I thought there would be more waterfalls". To begin the process ask the client to write a list of what they want, and then add to it or change after a first consultation. Ask them to be very specific, and ask more questions if they have trouble articulating. The fact is that most clients don't quite know what they want until they think and write about it.


I'm such a customer as well, who don't know what she wants. But when this project had started with forcing me to think about what I want, I'm quit sure my parcel would not have been reshaped by now.

What I want from a designer is not only to do the work for me, but also do the thinking. I'm the kind of customer who thinks: you have the talent for this, you might be able to envision a landscape that is beyond my dreams, so please go ahead, do what you think is best for this place (taking in account this and that).

It's a creative process, you cannot know on forehand what you will need exactly. Ideas grow while you are busy with shaping (even when you start with a  clear cut concept).

But I realise that all customers are different, the other end of the spectrum might be someone who exactly knows what he wants, but has not the talent or time to do it himself.

I think you should be able to work with both kind of customers, and all tastes in between.

But anyway, I'm a satisfied customer, both in the way we worked on this project and the end result.

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Ahh Maddie, if only all of my clients would have been like you...heaven.

Unfortunately way too many were ultra micro-managers and drove me nuts.  I wanted to say "why in the hell did you hire me if you want to control every move I make".  Even had one guy get on Skype and tell me 'put this plant here, put that plant there'.  After listening to him for a few minutes I hung up Skype and left that job never to return.

 

There is a reason why you see 'I don't do custom jobs' on so many creators profiles....sadly.

But I'll always remember those people who hired me and just said 'Luna do your magic" :)

 

 

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First off, again, thank you for the amount of insightful responses, suggestions and tips everyone has left. I'm honestly surprised and incredibly thankful how each of you have taken the time to give your input, I really appreciate it and will take it to heart!

Zanara Zenovka : A flickr page huh? I shall look into that, haven't dabbled into any of these sites, but you're right, it'd be much easier to showcase products if I can sort them somehow!

Madeliefste Oh: *waves right back* I am so very happy you enjoyed what I built with your suggestions and I'm even happier that you decided to get rid of some things to the nature could blossom that bit more :) I had a really fun time and I love the picture you showed me of having added your own personal touches like the deer. Very cute! And you have a perfect idea there, before and after..who doesn't love those things? Too bad I didn't take a picture beforehand either, but I definitely will do that from now on, thank you so much for the suggestion!

Luna Bliss: Firstly, let me bow down to you, you are one of the garden builders I've fallen in love with since I joined second life. Visiting that beautiful SIM of yours, the skyboxes you create and everything else..it showed me what was possible when up until then I had no idea!

Secondly, thank you so much for the business insight! I have to admit, I hadn't thought of it very clearly from a business perspective and your post has not only made me realise that, it has also told me how to go about it. Thank you so so much for that!

 

Right now I am trying to figure out how set up a notecard telling exactly what my services are, conditions and such. English not being my mother language is a bit tough but I am sure I can hash it out :) I just have to make sense of what I want/can offer without making the notecard confusing and long.
And as far as contracts go..I have no idea how to write that up, will have to google it!

Furthermore, I have decided on a 'landscape designing starting price'. All your responses have had me realise that I can't just put down a price tag based upon size as even small spaces can take incredibly long. So I will decide with the costumer on a price based on a case to case basis before I start my work.

 

Again, thank you SO much everyone!

 


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Flickr is worthwhile, not only because it's an easy way to make a free catalogue, but also because there's already a huge SL photography community there. There are hundreds of groups for SL photos - add your pics to those and make sure you give details about their creation and a SLURL to location.

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You make some very neat landscapes! This is why I make bits and dont do landscaping - because Ive seen people do it SO much better than I. Not that I know anything, but why not just work out a few options on a NC for pricing?

Somethign like:

Basic Pricing:

Parcel Size    Low Prim option (up to 10% of prims available)   Medium Prim (up to 20%)   High Prim (30%)

1024                  $XXL                                                                 $YYL                               $ZZL

2048                 $XXXL                                                               $YYYL                             $ZZZL                                

Bigger sizes as multiples of the first on up to a full region.... make the cost for larger options a slight discount per prim to encourage people to buy larger options (if that makes sense)

And then options:

Themes - Tropical, fantasy, formal, mountainous, yadda yadda yadda - with pictures and links for ideas OR custom themes, please provide details.

Color Pallets: Darks, brights, single or multiple color themes (I dont know just some ideas..)

Terraforming: none, a bit, a lot and needs additional prims or sculpts to achieve the look

Things besides plants: Lighting, pathways, fountains, bridges, seats, statuary.....

Then a final caveat to acommodate crazy custom ideas (eg if a customer requests working merry go round and dancing dryads - you want to give yourself room to add on costs)

For pricing - use the suggestions here and past times when you feel you were properly paid for the work you did, and fill in the blanks in-between.

For payment I would ask for at least 10% up front unless the job requires more in materials - then up to 50%. Then you make it all pretty, set perms properly and customer comes to approve it. To finalize the sale you could set one item to the cost of the balance owed and have them buy it, and set the rest to sale for zero. For a ton of prims, Im not sure how to make it easier wihtout a rez box...

I dunno - just some ideas.

 

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