Agency expectations of “DTP” jobs

If an agency offers you a “DTP” job (replacing text in a JPEG file) for a total project fee of $15, and there are no instructions from the end client (no style sheet, no branding guidelines), what really is the agency expecting?

If I charge a student’s rate ($30 an hour), $15 would suggest a half hour’s work. Since an invoice for half an hour (many would even say an hour) is pretty much minimum charge, the agency is in effect expecting me to be still a student and to finish the work in less than half an hour (not a full half hour, since invoicing also takes time).

However, just figuring out what typefaces have been used (since the file is JPEG and there are no instructions) already took me a solid half hour. So the agency is pretty much (probably unknowingly) expecting me to not spend any time on the actual layout or, let’s say, spend only five minutes or less.

Granted, it turned out to be a common face. So obviously, if I were better in recognizing typefaces I would have had much more time to do the layout; I still think this says a lot on why the quality of so much “professional” work is so low…

PS: I wish Adobe hadn’t abandoned MM fonts. Compressed is too narrow and Condensed is still too wide, a project fee of $15 justifies neither, and having to artificially compress Regular to 64% really is unacceptable.

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