I'm a graphic designer and writer in Northern Ireland. Welcome to my blog.

The design pricing formula

A lot of designers struggle with pricing, and designers regularly ask what they should charge. As much as I want to, I can’t give specifics. The design pricing formula explains why.

design pricing formula

No-one knows better than you how much talent you have, and every project specification is different. If your client is asking for a rush-job, they’ll expect to pay a higher rate.

The physical location of my clients doesn’t change what I charge, but it could alter what the client is willing to spend.

Update: September 2013
If you join the mailing list I’ll email you the “Pricing your work” chapter from my new book, Work for Money, Design for Love.

Here are a few extra resources.

And when you’ve produced a quote, here’s how 20 designers charge their clients.

My second book on Amazon

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61 comments about “The design pricing formula”

  1. You are right. I do struggle with design pricing. I try and take into account the amount of hours it will take to deliver the product, the complexity and my abilty to provide their vision. Just like your formula suggests, it’s not as simple as selling a tangible product where you simply mark-up the cost of the product a certain percentage.

  2. Thanks for the useful links & tips David. In my experience its better to ask the clients budget for the assignment and work for him/her accordingly.

  3. Thanks for that David! I agree, it’s very difficult to put a value on your own worth, especially when you are starting off. Up until now I had (kind of) worked off an hourly rate, but that rate would vary depending on the client (mostly family, friend or acquaintance) but I think the bigger boys want to know how much this service is going to cost them from start to finish before they commit. I suppose that just goes back to knowing your worth and having confidence in your abilities. Thanks again though for the article links, I shall read all with avid attention to detail!

  4. Ah, pricing. That’s a subject that never goes cold, and it’s one that never gets any less fun to toss around.

    Level of expertise, specs… yup. Then toss in experience, demand… how about turnaround time, service and support… then there’s location, economy, cost of goods sold… You can add as many factors or as little factors as you’d like into pricing.

    Personally? I like the price that lets me sleep well at night :)

  5. I like that price, too, James, and those are some nice additions (I’ve updated the formula).

    Tady, I recommend working to a flat-rate, and cover any possible revisions / additions with a clause in the agreement — either for a further set rate or using hourly figures. You’ll find that most clients prefer to see the full cost, rather than think you’re stretching the time out so you get paid more.

  6. Simple and to the point. I think one of the main things that designers struggle with is the reality that design isn’t cheap, and conveying that to a potential client.

    I think it is important to present yourself very professionally when quoting someone. Unfortunately, a two sentence e-mail with a price slapped on it isn’t always the best price quote delivery method. Going the extra mile to present your price quote to a client professionally really gives people the extra push to trust your price as well as your design skills.

  7. It all depends on the type of project for me. I have a fixed hourly rate for larger projects that stretch out over time such as web design, branding projects etc. and a flat rate for other, more quicker, jobs like setting stationery.

    Antonea makes a valid point. On some projects I believe a well presented quote, not just a brief email, makes a world of difference. If you really want the job, and it’s a decent earner then going above and beyond is essential.

    I just imagine the client at the other end saying to themselves “if they’ve gone this far to present a quote then… “

  8. @Kriszha
    Asking the client their budget might be a good starting point, but most clients I’ve worked with have no idea how much it costs to get a website done.
    One client when I asked their budget offered $500 as a budget for design and development. Many of them don’t even have a ballpark idea of what it would cost.

    I tend to offer a range, and let them know that I can accommodate a lower budget, but it will mean less concepts, less revisions, etc.

    Usually clients will ask me how much something costs before giving me a really good breakdown of what they want, so i send them a series of questionnaires. One client told me that I was presenting a very qualitative difference- as no one had ever asked them those questions before. It made them see the value I could offer, and made them realize how much research and time goes into a project, and made them more flexible with the budget.

  9. Great point, Antonea. Presentation plays a key part in all professions, and more-so ours. How’s things in Oz? Are you still over there working?

    Too right, Abbas. I don’t usually discuss pricing until after talking to the potential client about exactly what they need, and by that time I hope they’ve gained an insight of my attitude towards their project.

    Marie, thanks for leaving your thoughts, too, and for picking up on what Kriszha had to say.

  10. Even after 20 odd years of freelancing, the cost question is still the one that causes the most headaches.

    Your formula covers the aspects that I consider when producing an estimate and works well when a client provides all the information you would normally need. I try to cover all possibilities in the prices, with either/or options, approximate costs of extras they may not have considered etc, with examples (but no free concepts, obviously) and as Marie says, appearing to go to a little more trouble at this early stage often reaps benefits.

    What continues to amaze me is how many “clients” expect a detailed breakdown of costs in response to an enquiry along the lines of “I’m setting up a new business and want to know what you would charge for a logo and website.” What?!! And then they get huffy when I try to explain that they’ve just asked the equivalent of how long is a piece of string. So frustrating.

  11. David: Do you figure in changes to the foreign exchange rates when you take on a project?

  12. @ Mary – Interesting comment. I view the situation differently.

    While we know that a client has just asked the length of a piece of string, I think it’s unfair that we expect the client knows that.

    People hire freelancers because they don’t have the skills (or time) to do the work themselves. They literally *don’t* know that asking, “How much will a site cost” is a bit of an impossible-to-answer question.

    And I think the savvy service provider recognizes that, and instead of coming back to the client with a reply that leaves that potential customer upset, it’s the provider’s job to ask helpful, friendly questions that allow him to provide an accurate price.

    The client is that much happier for having received good guidance, too.

  13. Pricing is the main headache I find with my freelance work. I generally try and get all the information I can from the client, explain my processes and provide a total cost which includes x amount of revisions etc. However, as discovered recently, pricing this way can mean you end up getting peanuts per hour. My main problem is although my total cost quoted are reasonable I always spend longer working on something that I should. Always tweaking, never happy. lol. I also haven’t quite got the ‘this is your 7th revision, I’m going to charge you for it’ down. Can’t bring myself to do it…. yet.

  14. @ James – I probably didn’t put that very well.

    Rather than just coming out with the string analogy and leaving it at that, I’ll fully, and tactfully, explain why they’re asking an impossible question. Further discussion often leads to a happy outcome, but the few enquirers who refuse to accept that more information is required, are the ones who give me a headache.

    @Maria
    I know exactly what you mean about working more hours than estimated for. I’m the same as you in that I keep tweaking a design, but we can’t help it if we’re perfectionists, can we! ;-)

  15. @ Mary – Oh, I get it now. The ones that say, “What? You want me to answer questions?! And actually *think* about what I want? Don’t you have some magical ability to grasp the blurry image in my mind and make it reality, then sprinkle it with fairy dust?! What kind of designer ARE you, anyways?!!!!!”

    Mmhm. I’ve met one or two of those in my time…

  16. @James – Exactly!!

  17. I’m glad to see you haven’t chosen to include the nebulous factor of “exposure” into your equation. Only in the creative industry does the clients’ usage of the product influence the final cost. It may be a creative solution for a creative industry but it’s unfair and unreasonable. I think calculating overall effectiveness and public approval for further incentives is a much better approach, if any such approach is needed at all.

  18. Good question, Jon. I do factor exchange rates into my pricing, and usually keep the British Pound as my consistent figure. When working with clients in the US, I’ll sometimes keep the US Dollar rate consistent from start to finish. How about you?

    Maria, if you find you’re working for peanuts per hour it’s definitely time to up your rates. As for telling your clients it’s time for them to pay for the extras you’re providing, that one took me a while to get used to as well.

    Mary, James, I don’t know of any self-employed designer who hasn’t come across one of those clients. It’s an unfortunate right of passage.

    Neil, the old “exposure” chestnut. That’s another I don’t see disappearing any time soon.

  19. David, nice post, I can’t say I’ve seen someone bring it up the way you have. My thing is, one has to provide their client with a choice. See a fixed price may limit your potential client base, and although setting a particular price standard is important, I think taking into consideration a clients budget is important.

    That’s why I provide several packages myself, when approached by a potential client I let them choose. Packages are based on how many concepts they would like, how many revisions they expect, time spent for example (as you pointed out, whether it’s a rush job etc) and a few other factors. All in all i think we all have a base price for our time and efforts but I personally look at what the client is willing to pay more so than what I’m to charge. I can base the work load etc on that. Might not be the best model but hey, it works for me.

  20. Chiming in on the ‘clients don’t know how much design should cost’ deal:

    I’ve know of a few entrepreneurs who recommend using services like 99designs for branding and websites, and I’m sure if they knew what they were paying for they would stop saying that. =P Many non-designers won’t know the difference between hiring a professional vs. paying for a logo they like (but may not be necessarily suited to a company). So many of them (especially if they’re strapped for cash) will choose a designer based on price, which is something quantifiable and easy to compare.

    I like what Marie said, about the client who realized that a designer who was asking questions would put much more thought into a project…it’s a good way of showing a client the difference between you and a designer who charges half of what you might.

  21. Hey Dave,

    a couple of valuable points worth noting:
    1) When proposing the cost of your work, it is important to consider the value that work will have on a brand. In other words – if the brand is high profile then naturally the logo / identity will have the potential to have a high net worth on its own right. Therefore, it’s value is almost limitless. The responsibility for getting this right is on your shoulders and in turn so is the risk. Charge accordingly to get the job done right.

    2) Always worth reinforcing to clients that this process is an investment and not simply a cost. Building brand recognition and association is a company’s biggest and most valued assets. The more strategic and considered the investment the more likelihood of a decent return on that investment and effectiveness.

    Blair

  22. @Antonea Nabors → I can see what you mean—I’ve definitely had an increased response in my quotations ever since I designed great-looking PDF files! Obviously, price is the deciding factor…

  23. I don’t understand what do you mean by physical location. You said it could alter how much the client is willing to pay. Could you explain this more?

  24. Thanks, David. I provide my clients with a choice too. They can work with me, they can work with one of the designers I recommend, or they can choose another design partner altogether. When it comes to the number of concepts a design project requires, that’s something I believe the designer must decide upon.

    Blair, they are indeed valuable points. Thanks for sharing your tips, buddy.

    J. Li, by physical location I mean there’ll be some clients who are prepared to pay more to deal with a company face-to-face, and they might be reluctant to invest in a designer or agency from overseas. Granted, this will become less and less common, but there’s no substitute for building relationships in person.

  25. Hello David,

    Thanks for another inspiring newsletter. I wonder if you and the guys can answer a query I have? I’m basically a sel taught very amateur web designer after studying a degree in ICT. I’m not sure if you would consider me to be a ‘in competition with the client’s neighbour’s son, who has a copy of Adobe Photoshop, and if you ever think you are, please read carefully’ as read at http://www.davidairey.com/first-steps-to-graphic-design-pricing/ but I have tried to study after being in a car accident. I’ve tried to do some web sites after learning from you and all the amazing info that is out there and from probably some of the guys here. All of the sites I have done have been very well received but as I mentioned my turn around is no way as quick because obvious problems. I suppose what I”m really getting at is when my friends say how much? I never know what to say!

    Best wishes
    Graeme

    P.S Got a nice bottle of wine once

  26. Hi Graeme, I advise against working with too many friends or relatives. It can lead to headaches you’d rather not have, as the lines between friendship and business are easily blurred.

    Payment with a bottle of wine, no matter how nice, can also lead to a headache.

  27. Thanks David,

    It is only a hobby really but please, please you and the guys keep offering advice,

    Best wishes
    Graeme

  28. Another factor that effects pricing: fear.

    Being both a freelance designer and business planning consultant for almost eleven years, I’ve found that both the client and I, the service provider, are in vulnerable positions. The client wants a fair price (or a great deal) and wants the end-result to reflect their request or surpass their expectations. The service provider wants to receive a fair price (and get paid timely) and create something wonderful for the client. The client fears they may get ripped off; the service provider fears they may get the run around and never be compensated properly, aka ripped off. While these things are not actually discussed, I do believe this is an underlying tension that adversely impacts the pricing game. Each side can act defensively without even realizing it. Knowing a client’s budget, timeframe and expectations usually helps ease the pain of this awkward situation, but in my experience, when I’ve asked the client these things, they either don’t know or the answers change after project initiation. Even with a great deal of confidence and experience, every new client brings a new-found vulnerability.

  29. By “Level of Demand” I assume you mean what I call an “Asshole Tax”… levied on clients that have been, and continue to be a vortex of nudginess and general bad behaviour.

  30. Things are pretty good! Work wise, things are going great I am working for a company called Daemon Group (http://www.daemongroup.com). Friend-wise, I need to make some! haha

  31. This turned into such a valuable post because you put the spotlight on your readers’ experiences in the comments, David. I feel like a lot of price discussions among designers are soo similar (basically complaining that no one knows the value of good design), but I was pleasantly surprised that this was different!

    I too have experienced the people just looking for the lowest prices, and I politely explain to them that is not the kind of designer I am. Also like David Pache, I try to provide a couple of different options in terms of price and the service that goes with it (number of original designs, time spent, how much work I will do vs. the client particularly in regards to web design).

    So far, I have not received a design request either through word-of-mouth or my website that I have not had to go back and ask for more details on the project. Ah, but maybe that’s my rite of passage, eh?

  32. Hey David, great article. I’m a first time commenter, long time reader. I’m a high school student looking to study Graphic Design in college but I’m getting a head start and already have a bit of experience in the field of work. Being young it’s usually very hard for me to come up with a price for a client. I don’t want to undersell my work, but I also don’t want to oversell it and scare a potential client off. They may think “A teenager expects me to pay him this much for this project? No way!”. I guess that’s my biggest fear when it comes to creating a price for a project.

    I also don’t like to overprice my work because, well, I don’t always feel I’m deserving enough to offer a certain price. I feel like I’m putting myself into the crowd of graphic designers, when I should be welcomed into it by actually being an official graphic designer with a college degree. I guess I basically don’t feel comfortable asking for a REAL graphic designer’s price for my work when I know I’m not an official designer yet. I sort of feel like I’m disrespecting the people who actually do it for a living and studied it for years. Anyway, thought I’d chime in on the subject. Keep up the great work!

  33. David:

    While I have not had an international client yet, I will keep things based on the US Dollar. How do you handle sudden dips in the exchange rate before you have been paid?

  34. Great post!

    Personally, I work to an hourly rate but this can range from £25-50 GBP, depending on the nature of the project, and what the client can afford (I’ve worked with individuals who are just setting up a business to high end business consulting firms).

    After a few emails/ calls back and forth, you can usually gauge how much work they require and how much their business can afford. £25 is usually my ‘friends and family’ rate, and personally have had no issues working with friends, as long as you state from the outset that business and personal will be kept separate. Besides, some of my past colleagues have become close friends…

    Having said that, you do need to be careful that situations don’t become touchy. If something is starting to feel uncomfortable – pick up the phone or meet them in person. Never try and deal with something awkward via email – both because words can be misinterpreted in black and white, and something written in the heat of the moment can bite you on the bum in the future – they have written proof of something you’ve ‘said’. This is true for purely business relationships, too.

    Back to quotes – after I’ve determined the appropriate hourly rate, I draw up a nice, professional quote. I itemise everything they need and include timelines for each, from initial logo ideas (I break these down into simple, text-based logos or more complex illustrated concepts), branding concepts, web site concepts (x 2-3), web site final concept based on feedback received, dreamweaver template(s), actual page creation, SEO etc etc. I also provide a section called ‘extras’ of things they may not have thought of. Then I always have a bit at the bottom, for ‘Any additional design, by agreement’ and the hourly rate. This gives the client a clear idea of how long different things can take/cost. I also provide domain names and hosting, but do this at cost because I provide the stipulation I do not provide technical support for hosting – they often order this themselves from companies I recommend, then simply give me the ftp details.

    I send this over to the client as a nice pdf. If they agree, then I can use the quote to work from and often give them a tally on the hours at each stage – then if they have extra tweaks beyond the quote items, they know about them upfront.

    I have found this as worked well for me, and I’m not short of work – most of it comes from client recommendations.

  35. the biggest unknown when setting a price with a client is what kind of client they are!

    passive aggressive?
    nitpicky?
    obsessive?
    possessive?
    easy going?
    clear communicator?
    bad communicator?

    that said, you’ve still got to communicate clearly and effectively yourself. be confident of your ability. be clear in what you want.

    good luck!!

    marlowe fawcett
    boulder, co

  36. Hi, I have found this web site very helpful as I have been struggling -BIG TIME- with the whole… how do I charge clients for the work I provide them. This is my biggest problem. I’m way too nice and not very confident. I am however very good at what I do. Currently I am working for a very popular cafe that sells wonderful deserts, pastries, etc in their showcase. When I began working there about a year ago I just decided on my own to design some seasonal tags for the showcase just so my boss would see how nice things could look. Well, since then he wants me to continue making these tags for each season or holidat, but only offers me reimbursement for the ink and paper. I told him that the main thing that goes into making those tags is the time i spend researching & finding the perfect images. He doesnt get it though& I feel like the only way to express my feelings about the matter is going to sound rude. Like, “yes, sure, I dont mind making you some fall tags but I’m not doing it for free anymore. Can you please tell me word for word how to handle this conversation I need to have w/ my boss please? Thank you so much
    Eryn

  37. “Asshole Tax.” I laughed at that one, George.

    Ant, you’re a friendly gal. I’m sure you’ll be the life of the parties before too long. Glad it’s going well for you, and I hope that company’s treating you right.

    Lauren, it makes sense to focus on my readers when they know so much more than I do. And you’re right, this post wouldn’t be half as successful without the input of everyone (James Chartrand in particular, who prompted the initial update). The other comments deserve a follow-up.

    Richard, thanks for leaving your first comment. I hope to publish something else that prompts your interaction in future. I had a similar fear when starting out, but you can be sure that experience will help you over it, so in that respect it’s great you’re still in your teens.

    Jon, if I’m working with a US client, and I haven’t based my pricing on the British Pound, then I just have to take any changes to the exchange rate on the chin. It’s a good reason to keep prices in your local currency, and perform the conversions in your quotes / invoices, saving your client the trouble.

    Karen, it’s great that most of your business comes from referrals. Shows you make your clients happy. Thanks for taking a little time to share your quoting process, too.

    Marlowe, it’s always a risk working with a new client. Just as it’s a risk for them to work with a new designer. So you’re spot on how it’s a big unknown.

    Eryn, now there’s a good example of how you can never negotiate upwards. Are you making these tags in your normal working hours? If so, there’s not much you can do, except to use your extra skills as a negotiating tool when next discussing how much you earn.

  38. No I make those tags on my own time, staying up late night because I do want to do it but I want him to realize that I am a busy person and have a degree in the field & need to be compensated for my time as well as my supplies. I need to some how politely if possible – explain to him that the work a graphic artist such as myself does, takes alot of time. Its not just a template I find and slap a word on it then hit print. ITs no 15 minute process. It takes me days off and on to find the perfect look. So.. this time the owners wife( well she’s 1/2 owner as well), who the restaurant is named after, went to the manager and asked her to ask me if I would do some more tags for the showcase. This time wanting an autumn theme. How should I handle it? Should I just call her directly & say, hey So& so told me u were wanting me to make some new autumn tags for the showcase & I just wanted to sit down w/ u & show you some of the designs I have found or come up with & c which ones appeal to u so I can get an idea of what u want? And then in person drop the bomb that I no longer can afford to do these out of the kindness of my heart. And then what?? I need ideas. Big time.

  39. You should tell them before any exploratory meeting that it isn’t free. In fact, you should be factoring a meeting into the cost of the project. Just say you were doing them a favour at first, but that you can’t afford to work for free. Your boss doesn’t, so why should you?

  40. I’ve only just started checking out design blogs and found your site. Lately I’ve been struggling with where “I” fit into the grand scheme of things, regarding my services and pricing. A breath of fresh air, for me.

    cheers
    Mitchell

  41. Great post. I share it with my readers on my blog, hope you don’t mind.

  42. Thank you Lee Newham AND David for your excellent advice and views on my questions that I had left on a different post.

    I have more questions, but I think this post is more relevant for my queries :-) Sorry for taking up space before on the wrong post.

    SO, I have been working in the design industry for a few years, but always within a company, therefore I was unaware of the cost of fonts and so on, as they were always just there. Maybe a little lazy and naive on my part.

    Now I’m faced with the challenge of starting my own personal business, I am a little confused as to what I should do regarding the subject of buying fonts, as all these details are new to me.

    Is there a good font library that someone can recommend I buy which would include a good varied range of GOOD fonts? For example would the Font Folio 11 from Adobe which includes more than 2,300 fonts for around £2,900 be a good starter pack or what?

    I mean it can’t be possible that everytime I want to buy a new font it costs me 300 euros! I would have spent nearly 1000 euros and only have 3 fonts? Even for me, to choose a font to use for my company name, i’ll have to pay this amount? is that the way it goes? or am I just being stupid?

    Also, I am guessing that once you buy Photoshop and other such programs that the fonts included in them are safe to use for commercial use?

    I feel that I should know all these details already, but well, I don’t! :-) And I’m just trying to itemise my costs the best I can before I know what help I need in terms of funds.

    Any advice or opinions will be extremely welcome!

  43. Pre-installed font usage guidelines can be ambiguous, so it’s best to only use fonts where the terms of use are clearly defined. It’s pretty much a given that you can’t supply anyone with actual font files unless you’ve purchased rights for more than one license. Where identity design is concerned, ensure you supply type as outlines. That not only helps when it comes to client usage, but also where redistribution regulations concerned.

    When supplying an InDesign file or PDF for print, you need to be sure you have permission to embed fonts within the file. That should be stated within the terms of use. Otherwise, you should create outlines for text.

  44. Thanks David, good point with creating the outlines, I usually do that, but mainly because as you say it is easier for the client to work with etc…

    Sorry for going on about this topic with the fonts, but it’s something I hadn’t thought about and still have no answer for….

    What did you do for your fonts? Did you buy seperate fonts at hundreds of pounds each time? or buy a reputable library?

    Juts reiterating what I mentioned before, “Is there a good font library that you can recommend I buy which would include a good varied range of GOOD fonts? For example would the Font Folio 11 from Adobe which includes more than 2,300 fonts for around £2,900 be a good starter pack or what?”

    “I mean it can’t be possible that everytime I want to buy a new font it costs me 300 euros! I would have spent nearly 1000 euros and only have 3 fonts? Even for me, to choose a font to use for my company name, i’ll have to pay this amount? is that the way it goes?”

    I hope you (or someone) can clear this up for me.

    Thanking you hugely in advance!

  45. I once bought a CD with around 1,000 fonts, but most of them were useless, so nowadays I normally choose to buy small bundles at a time. Here are some type foundries worth a look.

    Factor the cost of typefaces into what you charge.

  46. Here’s one – do you guys invoice and show a “Friends rate” as a discount or just invoice the lower rate?

    I think it’s important people understand the discount or it isn’t going to get noticed at all (or appreciated).

  47. That’s a great point, Marc. I agree. It is important to show the full price, plus any discounts offered on your invoice. You don’t want to give the impression that a discounted rate comes as standard.

  48. Good read.

    I do set packages for logo design, any amount of revisions over the package then I would upgrade the package, if it is only 1-2 revisions over the agreed package then I would advise them and charge them at an hourly rate or a set price per revision. depends on the circumstances.

    Stationery design, set price, if it goes over the allowed amount of revisions then I charge an hourly rate the the extra work.

    Websites, set price. You know what you will pay and what you will get. If it goes over.. a little I don’t worry. But if I find my self working many many hours over the time allowed then I would have to charge more, at an hourly rate.

  49. I live under the roof of my parents and apparently don’t really have to pay for any expenses. That’s the benefit of working from home. But then again i still struggle with pricing. My price plan comes mostly from my design skills and if clients want stationery printing then I charge that as an extra. I usually slightly over charge to cover up the time I spend on projects because I have a busy schedule and need to keep up with workload.

  50. I believe it’s about setting expectations from the beginning. In my experienced the smallest jobs can be the most hassle per pound. By setting slightly high expectations as to your charges and your time you may lose some work, but committed customers are prepared to contemplate the premium and are pleasantly surprised when the costs are revealed to them.

  51. Great discussion here, just what I needed. I have been freelancing or rather had my own business for almost 10 years. I work from home, and it suits me.

    In general I charge an hourly rate (a fixed hourly rate for design, another for changes or ‘author’s corrections’ and one for ‘in-house work’). I mostly deal with large print publications, so I have a formula based on:

    design time x hourly rate
    +
    page count x hourly rate (i.e. x pages take x hours)
    +
    number of graphs/diagrams and tables (i.e. one table will take x time)
    +
    supply of final art (i.e. print ready, web suitable etc)
    =
    final cost.

    I then have to take into account ‘am I designing a new look’ or working with an existing visual style and of course the ‘asshole tax’. I then itemise the ‘design’ hours and the ‘layout’ hours, that way the client gets an idea of exactly how much time is spend on each element.

    I state at the bottom of the each quote that one round of authors corrections are included in the quote, but any additional changes will occur an additional charge of $$ per hour. So they know upfront that there will be charges if they keep making changes.

    Some clients request a number of designs, but I always get this information upfront, and work that into the quote (itemised under the ‘design’ hours).

    I find this usually works. Occasionally I get a call or email letting me know the costs were to high and they have decided either not to go ahead or have found someone cheaper. But that’s fine, I know how much time it will take me, and will not work for less (with one exception: if the client will be a source of a LOT of future work, and future income, I will negotiate a lesser fee with the understanding [in writing] that there will be ongoing work for me).

    I have never thought of asking for some of the cost upfront, I do progressive payments, but I like the idea of a deposit (after all, you only have to spend a bunch of time on a project and have it fall apart once to learn that lesson). That would certainly save some sleepless nights! I am running a business after all!

    Hope this info helps someone starting out!

  52. Oh I forgot to mention my mantra:
    ‘speed, affordability and quality – pick two!’
    i.e. you can have speed and quality, but it won’t be cheap or you can have speed and affordability, but it won’t win any awards!

  53. i just started my business the beginning of this year. I just got my first client today who is just starting out too. im in a dilemma, i want to charge him a reasonable price, but not under cut myself too, but dont want to lose a client either. what should i charge for a flat rate for a business logo. see the dilemma im in? any feedback would be appreciated. i havent given him a quote yet due to my dilemma. Thank You.

  54. Hi David, the comment thread on this post should give you something to consider: How much does logo design cost? Good luck.

  55. Nice to find this discussion.
    There is no answer, however, having been in business for many many years.
    My advice would be to appraise both your client [can I do good work with these people] and their business. If you establish that initial rapport you will have a long and stable relationship — to a point of trust where your value as part of their endeavour is counted — not the dollar figure.

  56. I’m working on launching my own freelance business and have been stressing almost constantly about pricing. I am much more comfortable with a flat rate, as I can make more money per hour as I grow and refine my skills, without affecting my clients. My main concern is undercutting the rest of the industry. The last thing I want to do is charge much less than everyone else and ruin the standard in my area. Some flat rate examples would give me an idea of a minimum to charge for various services. I understand that there is no magical number for projects but I would greatly appreciate a few examples to use as a starting point!

  57. Thank you for this interesting post. I do wish you had added a breakdown of some of these factors that affect pricing. Not all factors can be broken down but what about turnaround time? Can you give an example of a simple logo and how the price would differ if the turnaround time were shorter or longer? What about Expertise? Can the expertise of a designer be broken down into yearly brackets (1-3years, 4-7years and so on)? What about physical location? Is there a resource similar to Pricing and Ethical Guidelines that offers an insight into regional markets for graphic designers?

    I also own your book Logo Design Logo and it is brilliant.

    Thanks a bunch.

  58. *Logo Design Love. Oops lol

  59. I’d love to see some real world examples/case studies of how actual jobs have been priced… Nobody ever wants to mention the figures.

  60. A belated thank you, Daniel! I’m very glad you liked the book.

    Amber, I’ll put an updated post title in my draft folder. One to work on. Darren, I hope that’ll help once published.

    Have a great weekend, everyone.

  61. I have a question, say a client wants to redo their brand (logo, website, etc) to help increase recognition, value and profit. Once the designer finishes the job what happens when the new designs don’t bring in the increase of value for the business?

    Should there be a specific clause in a contract that protects the designer as well as the client? I would love to promise a client a return on investment but sometimes it does not always work out as it might have been the clients fault for not following through with the new branding model.

    Any thoughts?

Anything to add?

Comments may be edited or deleted if I don't like the cut of your jib, but that's quite unlikely.