Creating a brochure usually includes custom photography.
Creating brochures for profit is a mainstream business activity across the United States, in large cities and small towns. Service providers range from big national ad agencies and blue-chip graphic design firms to independent consultants and local designers working out of a small office or their homes. While big ad agencies charge as much as $150 to $200 an hour or more for such services, small operators can charge as little as $25 to $75 an hour and still make a good living.
1. Solicit clients. Get a directory of local businesses and contact them. Almost without exception, new clients will come from the marketing or sales departments of companies. Sometimes, human resources or customer service departments need brochures, too. Find out whether a particular company has an in-house creative director or other buyer of marketing-related creative services. If so, query that person to find out what current or future brochure projects the company has in development and what you must do to compete for them.
2. Get detailed client input once you’re hired for a project. Define the purpose and goal of the brochure. For example, a retail flier for mass distribution will look and feel different from an educational brochure for the sales or customer service department.
3. Calculate what your buyouts, or third-party purchases made by you on the client’s behalf, will cost. Typical buyouts in brochure creation are graphic design, copywriting, photography, illustration and printing. If you lack any of those skills, you will need to hire a freelancer to provide them. Get a written estimate from each prospective vendor to the project, then add a mark-up.
A standard mark-up is 20 percent, but some design firms and ad agencies charge as much as 25 percent. The mark-up is your compensation for handling or overseeing a particular function not included in your hourly rate, such as printing. If the client makes all purchases of ancillary services directly, do not charge a mark-up. Instead, bill your time for overseeing other service providers at your hourly rate.
4. Develop a written cost estimate for client approval. Include the cost of your work at your hourly rate, as well as those of a graphic designer, copywriter, photographer or illustrator if you are hiring freelancers. Add the costs of printing and any other ancillary costs, such as mailing or distribution. Each individual cost category is listed individually, with a total cost that includes all mark-ups. Graphic design/advertising estimates are presumed to be correct, plus or minus 10 percent. That means your profitability lives or dies by the accuracy of your original estimate.
Once your estimate is approved, it’s standard for the client to pay you a 50 percent deposit to commence work.
5. Develop comprehensive art, also known as a “comp.” A comp is a reasonable facsimile of what the finished brochure will look like. It does not include actual text, photography or illustration. It is standard practice to show a client three comps. The client will then pick a “winner” and approve its production in writing. The client must also provide any revision notes or additional guidelines that must be met in the completion of the brochure.
6. Pick a paper stock. Paper comes in many types, such as coated or uncoated, and is judged for quality by weight and whiteness. For a moderately priced brochure, you might specify 40- to 60-pound, inexpensive stock. For a high-end corporate brochure, you’ll use 80- or 100-pound stock from a top-quality provider. Your client must approve your selection after seeing a sample provided by the printer.
7. Develop a final rendering of the brochure that includes text and visuals such as photography or illustration. Deliver the finished product in one or the other of the two industry-standard graphic design programs, Quark or InDesign. The client must sign off on the approved final design, but might ask for additional revisions first.
8. Print the brochure. Once it’s printed and delivered, payment of the second half of your estimate, as calculated in a final invoice based on actual costs and mark-ups, is delivered to the client. Industry-standard payment terms are net 30 days, but many clients take 45 to 60 days to pay. Once you are paid, you pay your third-party vendors.