How to Price Your Design + Lettering Work. Tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, plus my favorite resource for determining how to price your work.
How to Price Your Design + Lettering Work
Direct sales. Third-party sales. Flat fees. Licensing. Royalties.
All the elements of pricing your work as a freelance designer and artist can be super overwhelming.
Why is pricing so hard? Mostly because designers tend to be so secretive about it and nearly every design job is a bit different.
It’s a question I’m asked frequently, so I thought it was time to write a blog post to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. I’m also sharing my favorite resource for figuring out how to price my work.
Don’t hear what I’m not saying in this post. I am huge on being generous as a business and as a person. But that’s not the point of this post or running a business. I have a list of ways I chose to give back…but that’s a whole other blog post for another day. 😉
On Working for Free/Publicity
Repeat after me: I’m a business, not a charity.
This is a business lesson I learned the hard way. I have a hard time saying “no,” and I feel compelled to help someone who needs it. But people don’t usually NEED free design work.
Need me to pick up your kid from school because you’re stuck at work? Sure. Need me to design a logo for your friend’s company? Here’s a quote on what it would cost.
This is my job. It’s how I pay my bills and save for retirement. Working for free or the promise of publicity won’t send my kids to college.
It’s worth repeating: You are a business, not a charity.
So don’t feel bad about charging for your time, your services, and your expertise.
In my experience publicity is pretty much never worth your time. Early on, I did work like this for some noteworthy companies, and I regret it. Not only does the publicity never really pan out as you hope, but it also makes it harder for designers/artists as a collective group to get paid for their work.
Working for free devalues everyone’s worth.
For the greater good of designers and artists everywhere, know your worth!
So How Do I Figure Out My Worth?
Excellent Question! When I first started writing books for publishers and doing licensed artwork, I didn’t have anyone to ask, and I didn’t find much that was helpful online either.
My “secret weapon” for pricing is a book called The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. It is an amazing resource for pricing nearly any type of design work that comes your way. It even has sample contracts, copyright info, “cease and desist” letters, and more in the resources section. I got my copy on Amazon, and I refer to it all the time. You can grab a copy HERE.
Every kind of design work I can think of is in this book!
Can I Determine a Price without the Book?
When I’m still not sure what to charge or if what a client is offering me is a fair price, what I typically do is take the list of things they want me to do and estimate how much time it will take me to complete that work. I take the minimum hourly rate that I feel makes it worth my time and multiply it to get my quote for them.
So, let’s say a company wants me to create ten designs and I estimate that will take me 20 hours of work to complete the job. I decide that I want to make at least $75 an hour, so I’d quote them $1500 for the design work. Don’t forget to specify things like exactly what the quote includes. I usually define a set number of revisions that are included in the price and note that additional revisions will be charged at an hourly rate. (This “revision clause” has saved me in many a design job!)
On top of the quote for the actual design work, I’d typically charge the licensing fee separately. I charge less if they want a limited exclusive license and more if they want full rights.
The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines details average hourly rates, so again, it’s the best resource out there in my opinion.
The Bottom Line
It has to be worth your time. Every moment you spend working takes away from time with your family, your friends, your free time, etc. Only you can truly determine whether or not a price is worth your time. So crunch some numbers and decide whether or not it is or not!
My time is precious. I’m an entrepreneur, freelance designer, wife, and mom of three kids. I only have so many hours in the day, so it’s essential to properly value my time.
I quit writing books for publishers and turned down the many offers I’ve had to teach lettering classes for online companies because, when I crunch the numbers, it’s not worth my time when I can sell things directly to my readers.
When you only have so many hours in the day, you have to think about where your time is best spent.
Note: This may not make sense for you if you don’t have a large readership to sell to. If that’s the case, I encourage you to make it a goal to grow your email list, social media, blog, etc. so you can sell things yourself. It’s so much more profitable than working for someone else and only getting a small percentage. For more on this, check out my free Blogging as a Creative Business Course.
It’s noteworthy to tell you that the companies that pay me well are always my easiest clients. They trust me to do my job well and know my audience, and I deliver on that! There is a great sense of mutual respect in this type of work, and many of these amazing clients are the ones I end up working with on a continual basis.
The clients that want me to work for free (or nearly free) are always the most work (read: pain in the booty).
Do Great Work, Be Kind, and Be Timely
Charging more means the client expects more. I’m proud of my timeliness and work ethic. I tell prospective clients that I am known for always being easy to work with and always, always, always being on time. And I deliver on that promise. Every time.
No one wants to work with someone who is difficult and unreliable. Be sure that if you’re charging good money for your work, that your work ethic and professionalism match your price! Your reputation will proceed you.
Above: My “secret” pricing weapon: The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
Still have questions on pricing your work?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them!