4. Deadlines mean dollars

Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave. (Constantin Brancusi)

It’s a simple equation – you make the most money when there’s a deadline, and most of all when it’s really tight with very little time to spare.

This is my formula. Have no idea if it’s mathematically correct, but hey, I’m an artist. Sue me. Anyway, you get the idea. The less time there is to deliver the job, the more money you will make.

And deadlines imposed by outsiders are best of all. For example, if your workgroup manager says he needs a graphic by COD (close of day), that’s one thing... he’ll probably leave work early and remember tomorrow afternoon. But if the division’s VP says she really, really wants it by noon... you better believe you’ll have it ready by then. Be a hero! Might mean a bonus, a raise... more money for you, if you deliver on time.

Tight deadline jobs

Artists who deliver their work to publications or the media are always working with unchangeable deadlines. No flex at all, if you’re making a graphic for the 6:00 PM TV news. Or, litigation art for lawyers – courtroom presentations – you can’t delay a trial because an explanatory infographic isn’t ready.

In freelance or ad agency work, you can always bill a lot more for a job with a tight deadline. Example – your client, the art director at an agency, needs a graphic for an ad that has to be in Vanity Fair. Deadline – first thing tomorrow morning, because he has to get the final PDF to the publication by their deadline. If he misses the magazine’s deadline, he’s in big trouble – because the magazine itself can’t miss its time slot on the printing press. So you can charge double (or triple) your normal rate. Urgent deadlines mean more money. That’s the formula.

On the other hand

Consider the alternative – perhaps a brochure for a product that the engineering team hasn’t really finalized yet. Nightmare job! You’ll make rough after rough; everybody will try to look good to the boss by changing your work, there’s no real deadline, and the job will just sputter on and on, meeting after boring meeting.

Jobs without deadlines are trouble. You are perceived as a necessary nuisance instead as a save-the-day hero. Eventually, the project grinds to completion, but by then everyone’s so frazzled that you won’t even get a free team lunch out of the deal, let alone a bonus.

How to get out of a non-deadline job? Surround yourself with tight-deadline work. Tell your manager that you’re totally jammed – maybe she could ask Fred to do this one? Dump the work you don’t want on others, every chance you get.

Remember – time is money, and deadlines are big money.

back to Contents

Next chapter

to Index

Need your help to make this ebook better!