July 8, 2011

Ask Design B*tch

Can I collect a finder's fee?

Author: Terry Lee Stone

Topic: Managing Design

Q. Dear Design B*tch I was promised a finders fee for bringing a branding design firm to a client/production company. We didn't agree up front what that fee should be. Now they want to give me 3% and I want 10%. Do you have a sense of what is most standard in the design industry? –Michelle

A. Too little too late, Michelle. "Shoulda-coulda-woulda." Let's get this straight, people: contracts are your friends. This is the classic "get everything in writing up front" scenario. Contracts keep honest people honest and give you a chance to talk about what you're going to do and how much you are going to get paid to do it. Use them. This goes double with friends. One of the quickest ways to have both your friendships and your business go South is working together without some sort of agreement in place. You think your friend will do right by you, but when money is involved, friendship so often just takes a hike. That sucks double.

[Reprimand over.]

To answer your question, I don't think there is a standard finders fee in the graphic design industry. It's whatever you can get. 3% of a little job isn't bad. Of course, 10% is better. How much money are we talking about here? What was the design fee? More importantly, what is that relationship between the designer and the client worth over time? As a point of reference: Illustrator Reps typically take up to 25-30% of a project fee in exchange for marketing, sales, negotiation and billing services. While their galleries usually take 50% for a purchase of a piece of artwork. You made an introduction, you are not managing a relationship or the designer's self-promotion. So I go back to my original point: get what you can get and next time put it all in writing.

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