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Inspiration can hit like a bolt of lightning, but before you dive headfirst into your next creative project (marketing campaign for your business, killer collaboration with a client – you name it!), a bit of organisation goes a long way. Here are the three key ingredients to discuss upfront, making sure you’re on the same page with your client or team

  • Project Deliverables
  • Project Budget
  • Project Timeline

By nailing these down from the get-go, you’re setting your project up for a smooth and successful journey. So, grab packet of sour patch kids, get comfy, and let’s dive into these creative essentials!

1. Project Deliverables

What’s the final masterpiece going to look like? A polished video? An epic website redesign? Having a clear picture of the deliverables keeps everyone focused on the finish line, this is step one… what do you need to achieve?

What’s the Big Win?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about the ultimate goal! What’s this creative project aiming to achieve? Maybe you’re trying to spread the word about a brand new business or totally revamp a website to make it user-friendly. Are you solving a problem, teaching something new, pure entertainment, or something else entirely?

The clearer you can be about the project’s goal, the smoother the ride.

The Specifics

Now that we know the big win, let’s talk specifics – the deliverables, or the “treasure” you’ll be handing over at the project’s end. This benefits everyone! You avoid last-minute client demands for more, and they know exactly what they’re getting to fuel the rest of their project.

Deliverables can vary depending on your creative discipline. Here are some examples to get you thinking (but remember, you know your field best so clearly define your deliverables!):

For Videographers & Editors: Think total number of videos, their size/format, length, complexity, shoots, and revision rounds.

For Photographers: Consider the number of images, size, format, and distribution license.

For Graphic Designers: Brainstorm the number of graphics delivered, their size, format, variations, and revisions.

For 3D Artists: Think about the number of renders, angles, raw files, file types, texture files, and formats/sizes of final renders.

By aligning expectations around these deliverables and goals, you’re setting yourself up for a successful and measurable creative project. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

2. Project Budget

Nobody loves the “money talk,” but let’s face it, it’s gotta happen. Here’s how to do it smoothly, setting you and your client up for a win. This section’s all about crafting and communicating a quote that gets the financial stuff out of the way, paving the road for the creative fun to begin!

The Initial Cost Breakdown

Feeling lost on pricing your services? Don’t worry, there are tons of resources out there to help. But here’s a basic concept to start: aim for a “cost-plus-margin” approach. This covers your gear, software, time, taxes, and super (gotta pay the bills!), plus a little extra for your business growth or your own pocket.

Once you know your cost per hour (or project), let’s unpack that initial quote. Use video as an example: your initial cost should include everything needed to deliver those awesome deliverables discussed earlier. This could mean pre-production costs, shooting, file management, editing, revisions, and delivery.

Break down your quote as much (or as little) as you like. Do you want to show a detailed cost breakdown for each step, or just present a whole project cost? While you know your hourly rate, the client doesn’t necessarily need that info.

Here’s a thought: consider charging for value, not just time. This is trickier (start with time-based costs to cover your expenses!), but it’s important. I’ve seen too many creatives create incredible work that generates millions for a client, only to struggle financially themselves. Anything that boosts the client’s revenue ties into the value of your video (or whatever you create!). It might be worth the same as your work hours, or maybe even way more. Look after yourself and understand the value you bring!

P.S. If you need a hand with your pricing, check out my awesome Pricing Calculator Template in my store – it’s a great starting point! or get in touch to schedule a consultation.

Budget Flexibility

When discussing the initial project budget, it’s super important to mention that changes to the deliverables or timeline might affect the quote.

Here, consider including example costs for additional deliverables. This can also be an upsell opportunity, letting them make informed decisions upfront rather than halfway through the project.

Additionally, establish a clear process for managing budget changes. This could involve something like: “If project changes impact the budget, we’ll send a new quote with updated costs before moving forward, keeping everyone on the same page.”

Clients appreciate clarity!

Payment Schedule

Finally, explain your payment expectations to the client. This is personal and may involve some discussion depending on the client. Smaller clients might prefer not paying upfront, while larger ones might have specific payment cycles (often monthly).

A safe approach is to request a percentage upfront. This covers project-related costs and protects you if the client changes their mind later.

By openly discussing the budget, you avoid financial surprises and guarantee resources are allocated effectively to achieve your creative goals. Now, let’s get down to the fun part – unleashing your creative genius!

3. Project Timeline

A nailed-down project timeline is the secret weapon of organised creativity. It keeps everyone on the same page, avoids surprises, and helps manage expectations throughout the project. Here’s what to chat about when building your timeline:

Start and End Dates

Setting realistic deadlines for project kick-off and completion is crucial. Remember, even though start dates seem obvious, the project technically starts once it’s approved, not necessarily when the work begins.

End dates, however, are those sneaky culprits that can slip away. Often, it’s because key questions weren’t asked at the beginning. Here’s a tip: be upfront with the client and ask, “What date were you thinking of for the project to be finished?” This opens the door for two possible responses:

Response #1: “Awesome! That works perfectly with our timeline, so let’s talk about some key milestones along the way.”

Response #2: “Based on the project requirements and deliverables, that timeline might be a bit tight. Could we push it to [date]? If that’s not an option, we could expedite it, but that might require extra resources, which could affect the budget (see Budget Section for details).”

Remember: It’s always better to under promise and over deliver!


These are like checkpoints on your creative journey, making sure you’re on track.

Ever seen a project go sideways because the client expected an update you never knew about? This happens when key milestones aren’t discussed upfront. The number of milestones will depend on the project’s size and client involvement. Some projects might have frequent check-ins, while others might have fewer.

Here’s a cool tip: Think about your most common projects and create default milestones for them. For example, if you’re a photographer working on a brand shoot, you’d have a shoot date and a final delivery date. But you could also add a reminder to contact the client after 3 days with a quick update that the photos are looking great! Those little touches go a long way.

Post-Delivery Considerations

This is all about what happens after the project’s done, things like maintenance, promotion, or even future phases.

Unlike the other timeline points, post-delivery stuff can be discussed at the beginning, but sometimes it’s better to wait until the project’s finished. This is where I need you take off your creative hat and put on your business snapback. Maybe you offer other services like social media management or PR that could help launch the project. Even if you don’t, this is a great opportunity to lock in the next project with a discount or recommend a trusted friend or partner for their future needs (and maybe earn a referral fee!).

According to Semrush “Businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer, while for a new prospect it’s just 5% to 20%”

For development projects like websites or apps, this discussion might focus on maintenance or future updates. Let the client know you’re not just delivering and disappearing – you’re here for the long haul and excited to work with them again!

Remember: A clear timeline keeps everyone accountable, informed, and helps manage expectations throughout the creative process.

Here’s The Rub

By bringing these three power players together – project timeline, budget, and deliverables – you’re setting yourself up for organised creative magic. This structured approach keeps things smooth, avoids nasty surprises, and ultimately leads to projects that are both impactful and awesome.

Get out there and create something awesome!

Bonus Tip: Project management tools can be your secret weapon for keeping everyone in the loop, tracking progress, and making sure communication stays on point throughout the creative adventure. Stay tuned for a future blog where we’ll dive into some of my favourite project management tools!

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