The ‘Hows’ of Pricing Your Design Work

Recently I have been receiving many emails from designers asking me what’s the “best practice” for pricing design work or how much do you charge for a design.

I like to start off by saying there is no “best practice”, but there are a number of factors to consider when pricing your work and services. Below are 10 factors to consider when pricing a project and your design services.

How much experience you have

Have you been working professionally for 30 years or are you fresh out of design school? Chances are the more ‘real-world’ design experience you have the better your work is. Everyone and everything gets better over time, especially your designs and skill level.

How “good” is your work

Not only does this go hand-in-hand with the amount of experience a designer has, but requires a difficult self-evaluation… How good are you? Try to be as honest as possible with yourself, because your clients will know by the work you produce; thus decreasing your chance of referrals.

More often than not you have a pretty good idea where you stand against other designers and their work.

Also, research how much other designers of various skill level are charging and let your prices reflect and adjust.

How much time will the project take

How much research will need to be done? How many client meetings will need to take place? All factors that will reflect on the estimated time frame of the project.

How fast does your client need the project

Not to be confused with how much time a project will take—There are times when a client is on a tight deadline and requires their work to be completed on a much faster deadline that it would typically take.

How exposed is the company?

In most cases the size of the company reflects the usage and visibility of your designs and the price should reflect that. The larger the company the more hands will touch your design and the more places it will be used. See below:

How and where will it be used

Let’s say you are designing a logo for web-only use and another for print and web. While a client using a logo only for the web might require only a PNG and JPG file, someone using it for both will require many more file formats and options. All of this requires more time and planning.

How much are you in demand

The more clients want your services the more your prices should reflect the demand for it (and vice versa). It’s simple supply and demand. And don’t worry this is not untypical of standard business practices either. Every business does it, don’t feel bad.

How are you different from your competitors

Do you offer 24-7 services or personal content management training. If your services and strategies are giving clients the ‘white glove treatment’, then as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

How much attention will the client need

Will your client need you to show them how to use a content management system to update their website or do you need to rewrite the copy of their brochure in addition to designing it? Will your client require weekly meet-ups? Some clients will let you and your ideas roam free while others will require their hands to be held through the entire process.

How badly do you want the job

Remember good exposure can be invaluable. Sometimes it’s worth low-balling a price to ensure a job in return for good exposure that will bring work through in the future. It’s important to note that some client’s will promise good exposure in return for your cheapest price within the first minute of talking with you. Be weary of these situations, do your research and use good judgment.

Remember, pricing design work is much like pricing a new house. There are many factors to consider and each house, or project, is unique. It is essential to get as many details as possible from the start so you can provide an accurate quote without under or over charging. Be fair and courteous of your clients and they will do the same for you.

What other factors do you consider when pricing your design work?

Discussion and Comments

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  1. Nancy says:

    Nice one, I’ve been having problems when someone would ask me how much, and I usually say lets look into the project first. But deep inside I am thinking of what to answer. Now you gave me standards, I now know what to immediately say when they ask me how much.

  2. Olive says:

    Thanks. I’ve been having problems when someone would ask me how much, and I usually say lets look into the project first. But deep inside I am thinking of what to answer. Now you gave me standards, I now know what to immediately say when they ask me how much.

  3. Arif Saeed says:

    Its quite a hrdship to evaluate yourself and your work standard, for this we can also survey the market and ask opinions from other professionals on our work to know the real worht, but in the end its all the play of luck, skills, timing and being there at right time.

Brian Hoff
About Brian Hoff: Designer, Writer and Speaker

I’m a graphic designer living in Brooklyn, New York who loves creating compelling and useful websites and memorable interactions across the web. When I’m not designing I can be found writing, speaking and occasionally part-time teaching at colleges — all on the subject of design. I started this blog to share my passion and experiences with designers and clients. I'm most active on Twitter; say hello: