You Ask, We Answer: “How Should I Price My Design Work?”

Graphic Design Pricing Tips

Here at Go Media, we receive countless emails about how we price our design work. This is a fantastic question, but a complicated one, as it depends on a couple of factors – mainly your skill level and the number of customers you have / the amount of work on your plate. Too, we don’t mind giving advice, but we never want to lay out what your pricing structure should be. You’re the boss here! 

Having said that, here are some words of wisdom we often share with new designers on the topic of pricing design work. We hope they assist you as you decide what works best for you today.

I’m a Brand New Designer & Don’t Know How Much to Charge. Help!
When Go Media was getting started, we had to take on small projects at low rates. (For example, $100 for a flyer that took 20 hours to design = $5 per hour.) Soon enough, folks heard about our incredible pricing structure and wanted similar work done. As a result, we started getting busier and busier. We were able to start charging more. Some of our original customers stayed and some couldn’t hang, which was okay as we gained new customers that were willing to pay more. Fast forward to present day. We now charge $100/hr for print design and $125/hr for web design and multimedia work.

For those of you wondering what a brand new designer (freshly out of school to in the field from 3 to 5 years) might charge, here is what is common in our market and area. Please simply use these as a reference.
Average Hourly rate for Graphic Design Services: Newly out of School – $15 to $25
Average Hourly rate for Graphic Design Services: In the Field 3 to 5 Yrs – $25 to $40
Average Hourly rate for Web Development Services: Newly out of School – $20 to $30
Average Hourly rate for Web Development Services: In the Field 3 to 5 Yrs – $30 to $50
Example Project Fee – Logo Design: Newly out of School – $300
Example Project Fee – Logo Design: In the Field 3 to 5 Yrs – $900

Find the entire Pricing Chart in our Drawn to Business Supplemental Material.

How do I know when to raise my rates?
As a general rule, we suggest raising your rates when your schedule has been booked solid for three months and you have requests still pouring in. Repeat as needed!

How do I develop an accurate quote?
As you may have noticed, we started off with flat-rate billing, then transitioned to hourly based on the number of hours we estimate the project to take us. As we have a substantial amount of experience quoting hours, our quotes tend to be very accurate. The development of our hourly billing structure came with time, and your own unique structure will take time as well. Even if you start with flat-rate billing, take very specific notes on how long the project takes you in hours and take diligent notes on what those hours consist of (not only design work and development, but client meetings, file prep, and strategizing, too!) We use Toggl to track our time. You may also find that helpful.

As you create your own billing structure, you may decide to increase your rates on any project dependent on different factors. These may include situations like when working with rush turnaround times when factoring in detailed illustrations and even when working with extremely high maintenance clients.

Another note about quoting: It’s easy to make assumptions about your client (namely, what they can or cannot afford) when quoting a project, but all clients deserve to be treated fairly. Take the emotion out of the game and you will benefit in the long run.

Should I require a deposit for every client?
We require a deposit on almost all of our projects and suggest you consider one as well. Deposits will scare away any potential scammers or “busters” as we like to call them, as well as ensure overall project security. Our general policy is 50% of the project total for those under $5,000 and 25% for those over $5,000.

When do I charge my clients?
Similarly, at the beginning of any project, we sit down with our clients to discuss a payment schedule that suits both of our needs. We advise discussing a payment schedule, as it really streamlines the billing process overall and makes communication with the client very clear from the beginning. An example of a $5,000 project might look like:

Deposit: $1,250
8/2017: Payment installment 1 of 4: $937.50
9/2017: Payment installment 2 of 4: $937.50
10/2017: Payment installment 3 of 4: $937.50
11/2017: Payment installment 4 of 4: $937.50

Contracts – yea or nay?
Contracts have their time and place, in our opinion. Regarding contracts for small projects with all the time, money and follow through involved, it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth. We usually only write up contracts for projects over 50k.

What tips do you have about negotiating?
When negotiating with a client, we’d suggest that you go into the conversation as prepped and ready, yet as unemotional as possible. We’d also suggest that you quote high, leaving wiggle room as needed and keep your absolute rock bottom in mind, too. If, during the course of the conversation, you start to feel things to go off course, do not hesitate to stop the conversation and re-engage at another time.

How do I know if I’m underselling myself?
If you are following the tips outlined above, you should be in pretty good shape. However, if you are consistently hearing back from potential clients who are consistently and eagerly getting back to your quotes with a big old “YES!,” we suggest you consider raising your rates and seeing what response you get. While you are a new designer and just gaining momentum, it is important to keep in mind that a client has come to you because they see your talent and potential. Keep your standards high while gaining valuable experience for your growing business. We believe in you!

Where can I learn more?
Great question! Our President knows best, so we highly suggest picking up his book, Drawn to Business, as well as the supplemental materials (videos, PDFs and workbook) that go along with it. If you’re starting your own freelance business, you really have to pick up the whole shebang – the Drawn to Business Plus Package. For more materials on being a top designer, pricing and more, head to our Start Here page.

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