How to Charge for Your Design Services

One of the more challenging tasks as a graphic designer is figuring out how much to charge clients for your services. No one wants to overcharge their clients and lose them to cheaper designers, but on the other hand, no designer strives to be underpaid for their hard work. It can be difficult deciding what to charge for your design services, especially when there are a variety of personalized details that can factor into each designer’s pricing such as experience, location, turnaround time, etc. Although there isn’t a “Universal Freelance Pricing Standard” to go by, there are  steps you can take to figure out how much you should charge for your work:


Step One: Start tracking your hours
 Whether you’re going to price at an hourly rate or a fixed price, it’s important to keep track of your work time. It’s difficult to know how to charge for your work without knowing how much work the project will take and you can wind up selling yourself short with estimated guessing. When you track your hours, keep record of all steps of the process (research, sketches, production, edits, etc.) and use it as a starting point for deciding how to charge for your freelance graphic design. is a great, free tool for tracking specific steps of various projects.


It's difficult to know how to charge without knowing how much work the project will take. Click To Tweet


Step Two: Research your demographic
Knowing what your competitors are charging can give you a better idea of what is considered “standard” in your particular industry. For example, a beginner graphic designer in Raleigh, North Carolina is more likely to charge a lot less than an experienced art director in New York City. One way to figure out what other designers in your specific industry are making is by using an online salary report. PayScale  is a free resource that uses an individualized questionnaire to estimate the average salary range for designers in your demographic. Once you have an estimated salary range for designers similar to you, you can use it to calculate an average hourly rate or as a starting point for developing fixed project prices.


Step Three: Choose your pricing method
Now it’s time to decide which method you want to use to price your work and honestly, when it comes to fixed pricing vs. hourly rates, there are pro’s and con’s to both. It’s all about choosing what works best for your design business. When working with fussy clients that like to send 50+ edits at a time, an hourly rate can help ensure you’re getting paid for all the work you put in. On the other hand, having fixed prices may be easier to explain to new clients. When deciding between the two, be aware that it is also possible to do a combination of the two when necessary. For example, a designer could charge a fixed price of $450 for a logo design with three concept drafts and 2 revisions, as well as have a rate for additional revisions at $45 per hour.


Fixed pricing vs. hourly rates - it's all about choosing what works best for your business. Click To Tweet


Step Four: Account for hidden fees
Before taking on new design projects, you want to account for any expenses that could come up during the work process. Projects could take longer than expected, unexpected traveling expenses could arise, or the client might have project specific needs such as stock photography or printing services; each project can be different so it is up to the graphic designer to account for these expenses early on. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that being your own boss is very different from working as a designer for an employer. Typical benefits such as dental and healthcare, paid sick leave and retirement plans aren’t included for a self-employed designer like they would be for a company-employed designer and it’s an additional factor to consider when setting the prices for your services.


Step Five: Create a system
Lastly, developing an actual “charging process” is critical to knowing how to charge for your design services. If you’ve decided to charge at an hourly rate be sure to have a tracking system to record your work time, just in case your client wants a breakdown of your process. If fixed pricing is a better solution for you, create a price list that you can quickly refer to when new clients request quotes. No matter how you decide to charge clients for your services, always be sure to address late fees,  additional edits/charges and methods of payment in your contract agreement; having clear communication with your clients is the best way to ensure the success of an overall project and guarantee hassle-free transactions.


Having trouble figuring out what to charge for your design services? Comment or post your questions below!

Ariana Nicole
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