The Blog

04/18/16

What You Should Charge for Freelance Design

One of the biggest questions I had when I was starting out as a freelance designer was what to charge. It’s important to know how much your work is worth, how much you should be paid for your time, and when to adjust your pricing. Here’s how to know what to charge for your own design work!

What You Should Charge for Freelance Design

01 Know Your Own Value

While you should always stay positive about your work and not beat yourself up for not being the BEST designer in the world, it’s also very important to have a realistic knowledge of how skilled you are. A designer with very little experience and skill can’t expect to charge top dollar – they haven’t earned that ability yet. In order to know what to charge, you need to know the value of your work.

In order to know what to charge, you need to know the value of your work.
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How to Know Your Own Value

How do you decide what your own value is? Well, for me it was staying in tune with what others designers were doing around me. I had a long list of my favorite designers that I would follow on all sorts of social media platforms, and I would pay attention to their work. It benefited me in multiple ways – I got to see beautiful work from others, I was inspired to do better in my own work, and I was able to see what caliber of a designer they were. I would compare my work to theirs only for the purpose of having a realistic view of how skilled I was.

Now comparing yourself to others can definitely be dangerous, and I took it too far more than once! You should never make it a habit to compare yourself to others – that is the ultimate killer of joy and motivation. But when you, every so often, think about how your work’s value (not your own personal value!!) might compare to another’s, it can help give you a grounded view of how valuable your work is.

02 Know What Others Are Charging

Once you have a good idea of the value of your work, see what others are charging! Now some people post their pricing, some people don’t, while others will give very general price ranges. Go the websites of all the designers you follow and see what they charge. This will help you get an idea of how much people are charging who are beneath, above, and at the same level as you. Knowing this should help you get an idea of where you “fit” in the pricing scale.

Just like comparing yourself to others can be dangerous, though, so can using the pricing of others to establish your own. While it’s good to have a realistic view of what designers generally earn, at the end of the day this is your work. And it’s up to you completely to set your own prices! Setting prices that might be viewed as “too high” might work out just fine for you if your clients love you and your process – when you have that great brand (connection with the client), people will WANT to pay you!

When you have that great brand (connection with the client), people will WANT to pay you!
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03 Decide When You Need to Make a Profit

Are you just starting out as a freelance designer? Then you’ll need to consider when you will need to be making a profit. When you start a business, a good chunk, if not most, of your income will go straight to business investments. You’ll need to have funds to purchase the basics, a computer, software, tools; and then also funds for specific client projects. You might work with someone and need to purchase stock photos, or a license for a certain plugin, or products like paper. Whether you include the price of those things within your fee or add it on, you have to consider how much money you’re taking out and how much you’re committing to spending.

When do you need to be making a profit, and not breaking even, or spending more than you take in? This is something you’ll need to figure out for yourself and make that a factor in your pricing. If you’re like most people, you’ll end up doing a lot of initial investing, and it’s important to have a good idea of what that will look like for you financially.

04 The Hard Numbers

When I was trying to figure out my own pricing, I read a lot of articles that gave me good principals, but they didn’t give me cold hard numbers. I just wanted to know what standard pricing would be for someone at my skill level! So here are some numbers! (These are based on my experience and may not be true for everyone – I would simply offer them as general guidelines!)

As a beginning designer with less experience, you could expect to charge around $10-$20/hour, if you use an hourly rate. I personally use flat rates, since I like for both me and the client to know exactly what the client will pay. When I was starting out, I charged around $150 for a blog design, and $300 for a website. Mid to higher range designers could expect to charge around $35-$55/hour, and flat rates will be in the thousands. Branding, from what I’ve seen and experienced, will generally cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.

05 But… You Should Be Flexible

So now you might have a good idea of what to charge, and that’s great! It’s ALWAYS important to have solid standard rates. This is the information you’ll be sharing with inquiring clients, and what you should generally be paid. But as a freelancer, and especially one who’s new to the scene, you’ll really benefit from being flexible with your pricing. This looks like working with people who have told you that they know they want to work with you, but they can’t quite afford your pricing at the moment. Sometimes it isn’t financially worth it to lower your pricing for a client, sometimes it is. It’s up to you to make that judgement call! But I have gotten to work with a large number of awesome clients simply because I was willing to either work out a payment plan with them, lower my pricing, or swap services. I’ve gained in many cases great portfolio work, new friends, and lots of experience.

And that, to me, is priceless.