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Calculating Creativity: It’s Tricky

Calculating Creativity-It's Tricky - Featured Image

Being a creative professional in the field of marketing and advertising means that there’s a price for the ideas, words, and visuals that I produce. Determining that price can be challenging when you think about how creativity happens. You could toil away for weeks trying to come up with the next big idea or it could hit like a lightning bolt at the very beginning of a project. (I love it when that happens. Unfortunately, the former is usually the case.)

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Not Your Granddaddy’s Time Card

Not Your Granddaddy’s Time CardTo get a handle on this lovely 21st Century timekeeping, we creatives do these things called time sheets, which are basically the bane of our existence. Much different than simply punching the clock, our time sheets must record every minute of our day – how much we wrote, designed, collaborated, sat in meetings, banged our heads against the wall trying to come up with an original idea, and yes, even those minutes we engaged in Nerf gun wars or went down the Skype group-instant-message rabbit hole trying to outdo each other’s emoji’s.

The Problem with Assigning Time

The Problem with Assigning TimeWhile most creatives will whine about doing their time sheets, there’s a much bigger problem at hand here. Take this case scenario. There’s a project to be done – let’s say it’s a digital landing page and it has 40 hours of creative and digital time assigned to it. The artist and writer collaborate and come up with a brilliant idea. The copy and design are perfected. The page is brought to life by the developer. Meetings ensue between the creative and digital teams to ensure all is flawless. The client reviews the page and has changes. The revisions are made. The page goes live.

60 hours of creative and digital time later.

But what’s the alternative? This is not a Top Chef Quickfire challenge where when the time’s up Padma yells “Hands in the air!” As creatives, we know there’s no stopping a job before it’s done correctly. (Kind of like, “There’s no crying in baseball!”) It takes what it takes to get it done right. Because doing it wrong is simply not an option.

The Ah-Ha! Time Sheet Moment

The Ah-Ha! Time Sheet MomentAnd that’s precisely why we do time sheets (even though I, like every other creative on the planet, secretly wish that all time sheet software programs would instantaneously implode). The time sheets tell us how much time the jobs actually take. And armed with that information, we can better estimate the time for future projects.

Even with time sheets, it can be a challenge to estimate creative time – when you’re constantly coming up with out-of-the-box solutions, it’s hard to put the time it takes into the same old box. At MIC, keeping diligent time sheets over the years has helped us build strong, trusting relationships with our clients because they can truly understand the value they’re receiving. Undoubtably, it would be hard to keep these partnerships without the accountability of time sheets.

Speaking of which, it’s time for me to wrap this up. I gotta do my time sheet. Which, come to think of it, is what allows me to collect a paycheck, which is what will pay for my adult beverage at happy hour. Cheers!

About The Author

Angela Mitchell
Angela Mitchell is an Associate Creative Director at Marketing In Color. ​She has been fighting the good fight at ad agencies across the Southeast for nearly two decades, where her passion for creative excellence has moved the needle for some of America's top brands.
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