One of the hardest parts about graphic design often is the task of having to give your client an upfront estimate price for the job. If you feel this way then you are not alone. It can be hard to estimate how long a design is going to take simply because the creative process could take between minutes to several hours to arrive at a solid design solution that works for both you and the client. So for those of you that consider art as your business, what is the best way of coming up with a price that is going to make sure you get paid for the hours you put in and also satisfy the client?
As with the pricing of many other services, there are a few things to consider in the design industry when trying to determine the correct price for your client. These include:
This will give you a starting point to be able to calculate the costs associated with a particular job. Now there are two ways that the pricing of a design job can be handled. The first and the easiest for the designer is to charge by hour. The second and easiest for the client is to charge a total price. These have various pros and cons for both the designer and the client. I will discuss this and the various ways in which you can arrive at a cost price below.
Charging per hour
When you charge per hour you will need to consider the 5 points above to arrive at a suitable price that reflects where you are currently at in your design career. If for example you are starting out and have just completed your design qualifications, it is generally accepted that you may charge about $40 per hour in Australia. If you have been working for longer, your price should reflect the amount of years you have been designing and the current skills that you bring to the table. Your skills may enable you to charge anywhere between $40 to $350 or even more in some circumstances. The average hourly rate is $65 – $75 according to a survey taken by HOW Magazine. Other things that may be of consideration include how difficult the design will be to create. If for example you are merely doing a reproduction for your client you may charge less than if the design would require your originality and expertise to come to a design solution. Sometimes what the design will be used for also makes a difference in the cost, for example creating a simplistic logo design for a budget company would not cost as much as designing a high end logo for a reputable large company and this should reflect in your cost. If the design is required very quickly then you are entitled to charge more than a design that allows you more time to create it. One of the benefits of charging an hourly rate is that you know that you will be paid for the actual hours you have worked, and therefore additional charges such as extra revisions will be accounted for in your invoice. It is also good for the client because they know they will not pay more for a guaranteed flat rate. The cons are that the client will not know exactly what the project will cost them and can therefore cause some hesitation in the process.
Charging a flat rate
Many designers who have had enough experience with the creative process choose a flat rate because they are able to estimate the hours it will take them. A flat rate is basically the hourly rate x the amount of hours they expect for the project to take. The pros are that the client knows what they will be paying from the beginning, and that you the designer will get a guaranteed amount. The cons are that you the designer are taking a risk that the job will not take longer than you expect. A contract can often solve this situation however, and you should use one to avoid any unforeseen mishaps. I recommend using the 5 points above to help you decide upon what you are going to be charging as a flat rate. By charging a flat rate, you can include various things into the cost such as travel time, printing, meetings, and phone calls without having to inform the client at every step of the way, as these can be included as administration costs. Some general ideas for flat rates include: logo designs: $150 – $450 for a standard company, business stationery: $150 – $250 for a standard company, brochures: $30 – $450 for a standard company. You should include a clear project description, a tentative budget and a rough timeline as well as a proposal outlining the amount of initial concepts included, number of revisions and also who owns copyright. Copyright can also make a difference in the cost, if for example the client wants to own full copyright of your work, then you are entitled to charge more for it than if they were to let you use it in your portfolio for example.
This has been a brief introduction into the best way for pricing your graphic design job; however there are many other additional costs that may be included in your decision to calculate the hourly rate or flat rate for a design brief. It would be wise to do some more research by asking other designers what they are charging their clients to come to a round figure for your work as this can help you come up with an estimate for your own. The charges for freelancers and design firms will vary because of the costs involved to run a business vs. what it costs to be a freelancer so you should also take this into account when determining your own costs.