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How to Set Your Graphic Design Prices

by | Apr 2, 2013 | Articles, Design, Freelancing | 9 comments

Set Your Graphic Design Prices Right

As Creatives, Graphic Designers, Consultants, etc., one of the most daunting tasks is to figure out how to Set Your Graphic Design Prices. When starting our own business, we have to consider our own expenses, health insurance, making sure that we factor in a little extra to get us through the slow times, sometimes rent for an office, the price of a P.O. Box, travel expenses, and much more. If we are going solo as freelancers, we don’t have as many expenses to do business because many of us work from home or work on site for our clients. Just starting out many of us didn’t have much experience, so do we set our prices lower to compensate for inexperience? If we have been freelancers for a long time and business has grown out of hand, and we decide to develop into a full blown firm or studio, how do you set your graphic design prices? Now we have to think about the expense of paying our employees, possible benefits, sick pay, office expenses, etc.

How to Set Your Graphic Design Prices

Learn to Set Your Graphic Design Prices By Working In-house

These are tough questions for many who decide to go on their own and brave the venture of starting their own business. For freelancers, it is generally a good idea to work in-house for at least a year, to really learn the ins and outs of the business. I haven’t met many people that walked right out of school and started freelancing professionally and didn’t fall on their face in the beginning. If you didn’t and knocked every project out of the park, and never looked back, then kudos to you, because you are an absolute graphic design super hero; but most design programs do not teach you everything that there is to know about design, and certainly don’t teach their students about the business aspect of design.

Set Your Graphic Design Prices By Testing The Water

It is also a good idea to enlist friends and network with other freelancers to find work, and dig for some good advice. Find out what the pricing is locally, and stay competitive with that. Some people will tell you to use the Graphic Artist Guild’s Guideline to Ethical Pricing. This is a great source for you to learn how to set your graphic design prices, and they do a lot of great things for their members, as well as fight for the creative rights of designers. This is fantastic, but you also have to look at whether or not the local economy will support their pricing. By networking with other freelancers, you can stay competitive with the market, while possibly getting leads to new projects. What I definitely don’t recommend is finding out everyone else’s pricing and unfairly undercutting them to the point where you sell yourself short and cheapen the value of the design community’s work in the process. This is unfair and is considered price gouging. Being competitive is one thing, but devaluing our services as a whole is another.

Never Announce Discounts

What you might do as a freelancer is seek out non-profit organizations and do some work pro-bono, or at a discounted rate to start out. This will show future and potential clients that you are helpful to charities, and it will help to build your portfolio in the process. However, anything done for a profit business, company, or individual should be billed at the full rate. No one needs to know that you have done the non-profit work for free. You are doing this for two reasons. the first one is to build your professional portfolio. The other one is so that others can see the value of your work. This will allow you to set your graphic design prices higher, while being able to justify them with real world results. Personally, when I started out, I designed a site for a new animal shelter that could not afford to pay me. I was happy to get the portfolio piece and I learned a lot about the real world of design in the process. On top of that, contributing companies that donated to the shelter liked my work and I ended up getting two or three good-paying clients from that single philanthropic act. It really just depends on tact, how you carry yourself and your philosophy on business and how to run one.


I wish that I could be more specific, like saying “If you are designing for print charge $750.00 for a brochure, if you are designing a web site, charge $75.00 per hour, but honestly, with no enforced guidelines, I can’t tell you what to charge. Hopefully I was able to point you in the right direction where you could find out locally via networking, but this all also comes from experience. The bottom line is that you have to determine what you feel that you deserve, what the market will allow locally, what you need to make a decent living and to survive financially, on top of covering your expenses. As long as you deliver a quality product, and make a solid living while conducting business in an ethical manner, then you should have no problem being successful in the design world. If you learn how to set your graphic design prices, you will stay competitive with other businesses and stay in business as well.

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