The Designer’s Guide To

Posted: | | Filed under: Design Survival | 8 Comments »

A guide to help new designers manage money and price their services. Advice provided by international industry professionals, edited and curated by Richard Baird.

Tailor your prices to specific projects

Never mention pricing in your first contact with a potential client without knowing the specific problem, target audience, etc. Not only because it’s unprofessional but also because you need to establish a valuable dialogue with a prospect in order to become a client. A personalised proposal will set the right tone and show that you are interested in both a well visualised and strategic resolution and not just about making money.

Clients are curious about what you can offer them and it’s your job to keep this curiosity and enthusiasm alive. Price should always be considered second to providing the right solution to their problem, any client who makes this their primary focus is unlikely to be interested in a creative and engaging result.

Provided by @gertvanduinen


It is very important to have a contract with a fixed price, whether that be a total cost or a per hour rate (with an upper limit). This prevents any confusion down the track as both you and your client have agreed on price. If your client wishes you to take on additional work then I would recommend agreeing to a secondary contract instead of renegotiating the original price.

Provided by @joshuanhibbert

Be confident

Stand behind what you charge and don’t be afraid that you’re too expensive, there are always other designers who will work for less. Don’t get into an aggressive negotiation situation, stand firm, it’s better to have a single well payed job that two low-paid.

When your rates are too low you will often attract a certain kind of client, these are often out for a quick and cheap design and have little appreciation for your craft.  Make sure your price is reflective of the value you can add to a business and go that extra mile, make sure people remember a positive, inclusive and collaborative experience not the price.

Provided by @hugodenouden

Raising your fees

As you gain confidence and experience there will be a point where you will feel that you can justify raising your prices. This can often be a difficult and uncomfortable process, will your clients be happy to be charged more or will they leave? From my experience if you are realistic about your abilities a client will gladly pay a bit more, they are business people themselves and understand you have to pay for good people but don’t get greedy or arrogant.

How and when to raise your prices

Keep it consistent, I review my fees each year and provide my clients with a formal e-mail outlining the new charges in a polite and honest way.  Don’t increase your price immediately and out of the blue, give the client a month or implement the increase at the start of a new year.

Provided by @richbaird


This is one of the hardest things to manage when starting as a freelance designer. It can be difficult to gauge the price of your abilities and get a good idea of the market. A number of designers have been very kind and provided their basic logo design fee so it’s possible to get a rough idea of skill vs price, click on the images to view their portfolios.

@RokasSutkaitis - View Portfolio

$350 – 400 – Two concepts and three revisions.

@d0wsoncreative  - View Portfolio

$1,670 – Three to five concepts, $335 – $470 for each additional concept.

@gertvanduinen  - View Portfolio

Unit fees

Charging by the hour or by the day is best suited to projects that you feel may go on for an extended period of time and likely to include lots of revisions. Make sure your client is continually made aware of the costs incurred on a weekly basis and provide a breakdown of the hours you have spent for each day on the invoice. This will avoid any uncomfortable surprises at the end of the project.

Project fees

Project fees are best suited to designers who can confidently gauge how long it will take to complete a job and provides a greater opportunity to increase income through efficient time management. Make sure you outline what will be include as part of the price and any costs that will be incurred beyond the project proposal.

Provided by @designsurvival

Never work for free

As a rule of thumb you should never work for free. If you know the client really well then the odd small revision may help strengthen your business relationship but know when to draw the line. Charging for these revisions can often help the client focus on what they really need doing rather than constantly trying new things at your expense.

In the end it’s a case of being accommodating but ensuring you keep your mind on the business aspect of freelancing.

Provided by @heinrichdsf

A detailed brief leads to accurate pricing

Make sure you get a detailed brief from the client, finding out target market, what they want to get out of the proposed work to be done etc. This way, you won’t be underestimating the design price for something.

The small things count

Always think about how long it is going to take you to do the design. If you know the client well, you might know that they’re the type of client that requests a lot of revisions to be made. Make sure you take into account the time you would spend on the numerous revisions, in order to include it in the final proposed price.

Hourly Rate or Fixed Price

There’s two ways of pricing a job. For example, you would always know how much you would want to charge for an hour. If the job will take you an hour to do, charge your normal hourly rate, If you’re not sure how long it’s going to take, and can only give a rough estimate, do it on a timesheet basis, at your hourly rate. If you know it’s going to be a big project, work out how many days/weeks it would take then to complete it, including revisions, then work out the price again, based on your hourly rate.

Provided by @ellishollie

Know you’re worth

If you’re serious about design, and serious about making it your career, then be serious about what you’re worth. A $300 identity project might seem tempting if you’re going through a freelance drought, but stop and think for a moment to be sure it’s the right move for you. If you know a project is worth more than you’re about to charge, you’re not only cheating your skills and your talent, but you’re also cheating the design community. As long as folks out there know they can hire someone to spend 30 hours on a project [including redesigns] for $300 – which comes out to a measly $12/hour – they will rarely give the $1500 quotes a look. Be smart and stick to your guns.

Provided by @alanariley

Recommend reading

The Dark Art of Pricing by Jessica Hische

Why I Charge More – An open letter to clients by Blair Enns

Provided by @gertvanduinen



If you are a designer and have any advice you would like to add to this article, please submit your contribution here or as a comment below and remember to include your Twitter ID so I can credit your tip.


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