Should you charge for project files?

In short? 

  1. If you are working with some other form of production company. For example a studio, agency, production house, then most definitely plan to hand them over. If you didn’t discuss this up front, take the hit this time. Next time include it in your rate. 


2. If you are working with an End client. Like a shop, or festival or a band or something. Then no need to hand over stuff.  It can be charged separately, because you are charging them for the final product. 

In Long?

Biggest issue here in my opinion, is from a personal growth perspective. You should always try to move away from stuff that someone else can do in house or hire someone cheaper. Just charge to compensate for potential lost work from the start.

If you keep trying to do everything yourself, eventually you will be still beaten by someone who does it cheaper, and perhaps can re-make the project for less than what you are charging for the project files.

It’s not just for freelancers, every businesses ability to survive depends on it doing something that others can’t do or don’t want to do. So it’s in your best interest to avoid doing work that can be done by others for less. Use that time to learn a new skill, or experiment and gain experience so that only you can be hired for that job. Over time this all adds up.

Obviously everyone has different situations and often you really need that easy money from doing corrections, no problem with that. But i think from a mind set point of view thats detrimental to your personal growth in the long run.

If you are considering not handing over the files, just put yourself into the same position, if you are running a project and suddenly someone refuses to give you the files you need and is holding you ransom . Will you ever work with this person again? Or will you do everything in your power to avoid working with someone who took advantage of you when you had no other choice?

In the end i mean everyone knows about the project files discussion. Either factor it in by default or discuss it upfront. If you don’t know about it. Just decide if you want to work with this client in the future. If you do, don’t charge them, and take the loss this time. If you don’t want to work with them ever again, then it doesn’t matter, charge them as much as you think you can get away with.

But remember this industry is small, and everyone knows each other. 

Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments, let others benefit from your experience.

Bonus tip: If you factor it in by default, then you can offer discounts if they don’t have the budget but want to save some money!

Bonus tip No.2: Charge more, i wrote an article on how and why to do it:


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