Freelance project dilemma

I’m an industrial designer with 6 years of experience, worked mainly in corporate. I just landed a freelance job to design some medical equipment. I was presented the project, I need to do a lil’ bit of research, turn in sketches and some renderings.
My dilemma is, I was asked my hourly wage and how many hours I think it’s gonna take to do all sketches and renderings for 3 concepts. I have absolutely no idea what the right amount of hours I should charge is, this is completely foreign to me. I don’t want to charge too little or too much.
Could someone give me an idea of what an acceptable number of hours a typical design project can take (sketches and renderings)?

Thank you

No one can know how long it takes you to do a project, only you will know the answer to that. Yes it can be a bit tricky at first, especially if you used to be a full time employee and didn’t pay much attention to timekeeping.

I’m pretty good at guessing how long stuff will take me to do, but only because I keep spreadsheets of my hours and time how long every single project takes and how long each stage takes.

Break down the project into stages ( I look at each aspect of the design process and figure out a time for each bit.) Add a bit of extra time on for mistakes/reworks.

Once you start the work, make a note of the actual time it takes you, you can then use this experience to help you better quote for the next job.

Although it seems quite hard to write an estimate when you’re not used to doing so, the more projects you do, the easier it becomes.

No one gets it exactly right at first - be it your hourly fee your estimating, your terms and conditions or your time management, only experience will improve these skills.

As with most things!

I agree with everything shoenista wrote.

But don’t forget to look at it from another perspective. What is the client willing to pay for your work?

How much cost and time would it take the client to hire an in-house guy on salary to do it? I mean with paid vacations, sick leave, health benefits, trainining, paying for equipment, weekends off, liability and continuing salary during down time, etc. a feelancer/consultant used as needed is a real value. We often get things done quicker and they save money in the bigger picture.

Don’t be afriad to charge with some of your contribution’s value in mind. A great idea could come in 15 minutes of genius. If you were charging hourly, it would be hugely disporportionate. If you think you can contribute valuable IP, think of ways to get commensurate compensation based on the value you provide. Building a track record of successful projects will help you gain credibility needed to start asking for a piece of the pie.

Quoting is never 100% but after a while you’d figure out if what you are charging is worth while for you or not. Sometimes it means seeing if you’re busy with other things, how quickly they want it, how many units they intend to make, how big they are as a client company, who else they visited for quotes, how much you like the subject matter, can it lead to a great portfolio piece that can land other work? How dfficult you sense the client to be, etc.

Be sure to weigh the sketches the heaviest when pricing. People may think chicken scratch doodles are “easy” for you and would pay more for impressve renderings but remind them that sketches are the most vauable part of the project. That’s where the valuable ideas are. Renderings are simply the visual representation of a refined idea only. It’s simply a communication tool, a pretty picture. The real gold is in those rough ideation sketches so place the most importance and $$$ on that phase. It’s where the intellectual property is created.

great advice there mpdesigner, that is a keeper of a post right there.