Do you follow up?
I thought this was a good question for a post from @lilmissmachete aka Marcela Vargas via Twitter. I thought more people might like to know what to do in this situation, so I posted my truncated response.
As for myself, I always try to initially understand the client the best I can, which sometimes can be really hard if you've only had one or two email messages exchanged with them. Things I do to assess how I should speak to and quote a company are:
- Pay close attention to how professional or casual they write to measure how you will respond accordingly.
- Check and see what their website looks like and how professional is it? This can be a quick indication as to what their budget is like.
- Are they a reasonable person? This is hard to assess over text as interpretations can be mixed up, but try to assume the best.
Here are a few tips I suggest you should do before you respond with a quote that I have learned from hard-earned experience:
What kind of business it is that is asking you for your rates? Know what field it is that you are trying to work for. There are wildly different industry rates for graphic design, illustration and comic work. Check out what your peers are charging by doing a simple Google search.
Take into consideration as to how big is this company's business? Is this a start-up or Amazon we're talking about here? If you want this client, you have to price yourself within their means.
State real, workable numbers while knowing the absolute lowest you will go and state a price range or list off what you will do for what amount. If a client wants to know your rates, they want an answer, not a question shot back at them as to what their budget is like.
Let the client know that you care about their business and that you are willing to negotiate and work with their company budget.
After you send off an email with your rates, I'd leave it up to them to contact you back.
However, after 1-3 months, if I still haven't heard anything, I would follow up with a simple inquiry for work, almost as if you hadn't previously emailed them- though be sure to keep the same tone as you had in your last response. I wouldn't mention your previous email after several months have passed. Leave it to the company to either ask again for your rates (giving you a chance to reassess the rates you will charge the company) or give you the work you are inquiring about.
The bottom line
Just make sure to properly assess the company you are dealing with and hope that you've judged them correctly and they should get back to you in due time. If they contacted you, then they may be filling a list of potential artists to contact in the future.
If you contacted a company for work and they ask you your rates, I usually get the feeling they are shopping for a deal, so why not give them one? Confident companies assert how much they are going to pay and have less wiggle room for negotiation. It's great that there are industry standards, but if you go quoting those industry standards to a small business, they will baulk at the figures. Know the company you are dealing with and price yourself within their budget.
If you never hear from the company again, don't fret over it. Do you want to work for a company that doesn't keep in contact with you? It's never fun to have to cut some companies loose, but just consider how much the aggravation would be multiplied
if you went into business with them and they wouldn't sign a contract or wouldn't pay you. You are better off without them.
***What is your advice on following-up on clients after you've quoted them your rates?