Don’t be surprised that I expect to be paid for my work

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich Leave a Comment

This has been an interesting e-mail week to be sure.  In the span of 3 days I’ve had two requests to license one of my well known images from Prescott.  The lighting of the Christmas tree.

This one was a lovely scene

Several years ago the Acker Music Festival, a non-profit, asked to use this image for their annual Christmas card.  They raise funds each year for the Music Festival, and I thought that would be a good cause to donate to.  So I let them use the image for their card sales that year….and they sold out quickly.  We would actually re-sell them at the gallery, and we ran out fast.

Over the years I donated to many charitable causes.  Prints for auctions, canvas for fundraisers, etc.  You help out the groups you can when you can.

But when it comes to for profit ventures, I expect to be paid for my work.  And this week two different entities approached me about this image.  Each wanted to know what I would license the image for, and I think we should talk a little about each request.

I’d like to make a mug

The first request for this Christmas scene in Prescott was to use my image on mugs that they planned to re-sell before the holidays.  They were only talking about a run of 200 mugs.  And I know a little something about mugs with images, as my business partner used to do that.

Let’s say you plan to sell 200 mugs at anywhere from $10 to $12 each.  My Dunkin Donuts mug cost more than that.  And in this case it’s a lovely scene from “Everybody’s Hometown.”  If you sold 200 mugs at $12 each that would yield $2,400 to you.  Now, what does it cost to make a bulk order of mugs like that?  Well, at a run of 200 mugs would cost you $1.66 each.  So your expense to produce the mugs would be $332.00.

I hope I’m not getting crazy with the math here.  We’re not doing differential equations or anything of the sort.  So income is $2,400 and expense to produce the mugs would be $332.00.  That’s a pretty good margin there.  But you’ve also got to factor in the cost to license the image that you think is good enough to sell the mug.  In this case, I know the guy who asked me what my licensing cost would be.  He assured me, 200 mugs only.  So I made him an offer.

License the image for $275.00, and he’d be allowed to produce up to 500 mugs.  I was being extremely generous.  At 200 mugs we’re talking about me requesting $1.38 per mug.  Okay, $2,400-$332-$275 = $1793 in profit for your mug sales.  That’s a return of $8.97 per mug.  Cost to create the mug was only $1.66+$1.38= $3.04 per mug.  That’s a great markup and profit margin.

Of course, my licensing fee was way too much, and the request was dropped.  I can see where I was being greedy here too.  That’s a huge cut into his profit margin after all.

Magazines, especially local ones, never make any money….

Today was my “kicker” and the reason for this post.  I was contacted by a new magazine for Yavapai County.  Like the previous contact they wanted to use my Christmas on the Square image.  And they wanted to use it full page at that.  It would later come out through e-mails, they wanted to use it as their cover!  Here’s their query to me this morning.

Good Day.
I’m the General Manager and Editor of a new LIVING magazine launching in Yavapai County later this fall. Your image of the Prescott courthouse at Christmas is something I would like to us as one of our featured photos of the area. Would you be willing to either trade reprint use for advertising, for fee or a combination thereof? Please let me know your thoughts.
Thank you and have a great day.

And later it came out that my image was to be the cover, not just “one of our featured photos.”

Print run is 10,000 copies of a single edition.  It would be a full page with text overlay 8.375 w x 10.875 h, cropped to fit portrait aspect ratio (most likely bisecting the Christmas tree to the left border).  We are looking for an image that speaks to the holiday season in Prescott as our cover.  This would be the first edition of the new magazine.  Budget is limited and would be willing to trade advertising, provide editorial space etc

I replied that I would be happy to license the image, but I needed to know how many magazines were to be run.  The magazine, “Living,” would be running 10,000 copies minimum.

Now I know the Prescott area well, and local magazines.  I spent THOUSANDS of dollars advertising in several local magazines and newspapers.  A small quarter page always cost me more then $500.  And I’m a single advertiser, and each of the publications had many many advertisers.  Advertising is how magazines get paid after all.

I broke out my handy dandy copy of FotoQuote to check on the licensing fee for a full page image in a local magazine.  The national average came up at $1,224.00.  And that was just a full page, not the cover.  So I checked what the cover license should be….  $1,800+.

Responding to the contact this afternoon I quoted $1,200 to be a nice guy, and I let them know that it should be more like $1,800.  If the image is so compelling as to be on the cover and you think it will catch the eyes of readers then clearly it has value……..

But once again, no luck.  I received an e-mail a little while ago letting me know that my license fee was way out of their ballpark.

It leaves me wondering, what do they charge their advertisers for page space?  When I was the co-owner of the gallery I never once dreamt of doing a full page ad anywhere.  That was HUGE money.  Maybe this magazine is actually a charitable foundation, and their plan is to let advertisers pay what they’d like to pay.  If that’s the case, I want a full page ad for $5, who cares what it costs you to produce the magazine.

The whole thing also reminds me of last year’s request to use an image for advertising for a VERY profitable real estate group in Prescott.  Seriously, why do people think I closed my business in Prescott (bankruptcy)?  Simply put, I had more clients that wanted free work than I knew what to do with.  Paying clients were the rarity!  It’s funny though, the people who want me to work for free always seem to expect to be paid handsomely for their work, and that included some pretty well known artists.


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