Setting Your Price

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if my clients could weigh my imagination and creativity and pay me $12.99 per every pound! Then all I would have to do is to dump all that thought onto a scale and come up with what they owed me. No one would then question why I’m charging the way I am or give comments like “Oh that looks like it didn’t take much time at all… all you had to do was put this here and put that there.”

First off, if you run into a client that degrades your efforts or work, please do yourself a favor and refuse service to them completely. You’ll realize that you’re not losing a customer, but gaining a lifetime of relief from all the anguish and emotional abuse that you’ll most likely go through. I’m getting off course with this, but I really want young designers to be firm in regard to setting the initial tone and professional values of their work.

Always discuss your fees ahead of time and give yourself a good range in terms of estimates just in case the project turns out to be the project from hell. For example, if you decide to take on a project of designing a logo, tell your client initially that you will charge a conceptual fee as well as hourly rate for your work. Let them know that your conceptual work will cost $350 and that your hourly rate is $45 per hour. Then tell them that the maximum they are expected to pay for such a project(taking into account changes and revisions) is $850 (or whatever it comes out to). It would be a great idea to also let them know that if they keep their changes and revisions to a minimum, that amount will be much less. This method will prepare them for the worst case scenario and cover you just in case the client turns out to be one of those demented types that freaks out once you send them the invoice. And lastly, always ask your client for a 50% upfront deposit, assuring yourself of at least some money in case the client decides to bail.

Anyway, let’s get back to your pricing guidelines. I have worked in this industry for many years and have come up with some sort of pricing plan which I know works quite well. It takes into account your overhead, talent, experience and know-how and scrunches it into a nice hourly rate that everyone can understand. Of course if you work out of an office, you have the advantage of tacking on some extra cash just for the fact that you have a professional establishment as well as overhead.

a) Let’s start with a base of $10 per hour for a recent graduate.
b) For every year of experience, add $6 (up to 12 years).
c) If you work from an office, add $10 for small, $12 for medium and $15 for large.
d) If you have won any sort of awards or recognitions, add $5 (not per award, but for all).
e) If you have a Master’s degree or better, add another $10.

Based on this formula, my hourly rate for my 9 person company is as follows:

$10 (base)
$60 (10 years experience)
$12 (medium office)
$5 (for 6 awards)
$0 (sorry, no master’s degree here)

$87 / Hour (total)

I also want to mention that although these prices are fair, there are those who do not see the value of design. Unfortunately, everyone with a computer thinks they can design, and this sometimes includes the client himself. For instance, someone was in my office the other day talking about re-designing his company website as well a getting a new logo done. During the length of our discussion, he made mention to the fact that he has a computer at his office and he can buy PhotoShop for a rather fair price, making notion that he too could do the design work himself, but admitted that he has better things to do with his time!

I was tempted to say “Well what the heck are you doing here then?” but decided to hold my tongue until I got home. The truth of the matter is that although we know our prices are fair and that so many people out there are making more money designing professional sports team logos than the president of the United States makes in a year, we have to be able to bend a little to get the business. I’m not asking you to put up with abuse, I’m merely saying that for a client like this, which you know is from a reputable company that may need your services again in the future, you have to have some room for a discount.

In my case, I asked him if our price was what concerned him the most, and upon hearing “yes”, I quickly assured him that we can work out something to keep both parties happy. I told him I’ll give him my “friends and family rate” of $75 per hour. He was ecstatic and told me to fax him our working contract.

Be firm, be selective and bend a little bit when you can. It will not only make your life easier and more joyful, but it will also gain you the respect and business that you deserve.

credit to Kevin Javid & American Design Awards


The analytical mind behind Zenful Creations. Responsible for all the bells and whistles; dedicates most of her time to breaking stuff, finding bugs and never spending enough time fixing things.

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