85 Responses

  1. Andew Newman says:

    Great article. Thank you.

  2. Scott says:

    Bravo on this post; well said!! Thank you so much for posting this article! So often it is hard to understand what to charge our clients as graphic designers, and this post provides a very balanced, accurate and sensitive look into what the industry requires. I’ve been out of school for 3 years now and wondering how I compare to the likes of others, and this provides a good snapshot. I think it’s time to up my rates with confidence!

    Thank you for also demonizing sites that are bid/spec oriented. I too feel these sites are destroying our industry and can’t believe people don’t realize this! Come on people! You’re spending time on your work… get paid for it and don’t pull the rest of us down. What a completely unsustainable approach to creating a solution. Browse away from these sites as fast as possible! If you are looking for inspiration, sure, that’s one thing — but graphic design is not a gamble, it’s a business… especially for those who treat it as such.


  3. Very good idea to post this. Thanks

  4. Thanks for posting this. You summed up well many things I’ve had to explain to friends and clients over the years, particularly when it comes to spec work.

  5. Thanks folks! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Thanks for the in-depth information. This is very helpful!

  7. Tod Berezowski says:

    Brilliant. Concise. To the point. Always wanted something easy to read and to understand to base my pricing on.

  8. David says:

    A nice written article, it really helps to know pricing of each category of graphic design, recently i did survey by asking many logo designers about their charges they give me close charges as you mention.
    David recently posted..All New Inspired Collection of Financial LogosMy Profile

  9. Deanna says:

    A good read! very informative, Thank you!

  10. Brian says:

    Finally a voice of reason! I use the car pricing analogy every time someone asks what I charge for a website design. I have several sets of hourly rates depending upon the type of client and level of PITA they possess. In general, with the economy as it is, I’ve had to knock 20 – 30% of the rates I was charging before the meltdown just to stay competitive. 70% and busy is better than not working!

    • Ya, a lot of us have had to do the same. In the article I said that most designers charge precisely what they’re worth, but the truth is that during these tough times, a pretty sizable portion of us are charging less than we’re worth just to keep busy. I suppose though that ‘worth’ is always in flux in relation to economic conditions.

  11. Joni says:

    Thank you for this well thought out and written article on pricing for graphic design. It seems to me that many people are seeking the cheapest designers these days. It is getting harder and harder to make a living selling custom designs at prices that will keep one in business. But cheap usually ends up costing you more in the long run.

  12. Nathan says:

    I’ve been doing this 11 years and have never seen the process described so clearly! Good stuff!!

  13. well descriptive & informative…

  14. Ken says:

    Very thoughtful. Thanks for making the effort to help folks get a handle on this subject. Two things come to mind that seem to skew any rational valuation of my work: 1. Clients that simply cannot see the difference (some people are quite content wearing clothes that look cheap and don’t fit). 2. Clients that want the luxury of multiple review cycles and input but don’t consider the time involved.

    • As far as clients not seeing the difference, it’s our job to educate them. As designers, we understand colour theory, typography, readability, unity, harmony, and a hundred other things that, combined, create a visual language. We have to translate this language into English.

      I think a lot of designers are either not confident enough in their own knowledge or lack the language skills to explicate/translate the information in a way that clients can relate to.

      Of course there’s only so much you can get across to a prospect in the limited initial communication you have with them, but I think the key is to give them a taste of your working process each time you talk with them.

      As often as possible, qualify them on the phone and then if they appear to be good prospects, meet with them in person for a consultation. They will be much more receptive to the price if you’ve just spent an hour asking them a bunch of questions they didn’t even know mattered. They will get a sense of “Oh, this thing is bigger than I realized”. You’ll also be able to help them understand the limitations of the budget in terms of the number of review cycles (the agreed-upon amount of which should be outlined in your service agreement).

      You’ll spend a lot of time with these consultations, but you’ll close more sales, and be more likely to build long-term business relationships, which are of paramount importance to both you and your clients.
      Shaun Hensher recently posted..What the Heck is Kerning?My Profile (dofollow)

  15. Efrain Serrano says:

    I think many new designers simply don’t know what to charge and are too modest for their own good. This is a great way to open their eyes. Great design is worth every dollar.
    Thanks for the great article!

    • Efrain, you raise a good point. Most new designer have very little understanding of what they should charge. This is a failing of our education system. Most design programs teach every detail of what it takes to create beautiful, inspired and effective designs, but very few of them teach us how to sell those skills or what to charge for them. We have to figure that out on our own, mostly by trial and error. I really hope that this changes, but in the meantime, maybe this post will help, if just a teensy bit.

  16. April M says:

    This is such a great article! Thank you for writing this. I am still a fairly new graphic designer (graduated 3 years ago) and still have no idea how to price my work. This helps me out a lot.

    I’ve been undercharging my work, but I was only doing that so I could get the work. And even then, people would complain about my prices, and then go find another designer to do it for them cheaper. It’s frustrating.

    Anyways, thank you once again for this great article! :)

    • It is frustrating, and we all come across it. Looking at your samples, for someone of your experience, you’ve got some design chops. Clearly, you’re learning and refining as you go, but it’s clear to me that your place in the market is not the bargain bin. At 3 years out of school, can you justify charging $75 an hour? Maybe not quite yet, but I’d say you should be looking at somewhere above $40/hr. The average for designers with less than 5 years experience is, according to the survey I cited in the article, $43/hr.

      Every designer has to decide where they fit in the marketplace. How do your talents compare to your peers? What additional value do you bring to the table? Decide how much you’re worth, and then don’t budge on it other than to provide deals on packages. Those clients that quibble on price? They probably aren’t your target market. Or maybe they are, but they need to go through a few failures before they come to you. Your goal should be to establish a reputation of being at a certain level of quality. If you waiver on price, then you are sending a mixed message. You’re saying to them “Ok, maybe I’m not worth quite what I said I was”. Don’t waste time with people who don’t value your skills. Spend your time cultivating long-term clients who believe in you and understand how much you can bring to their business. They will then start doing the selling for you by telling everyone they know about you.
      Shaun Hensher recently posted..The Best Book Cover Designs of 2010My Profile (dofollow)

  17. Nancy C. says:

    I agree, this article has good information, succinctly expressed. One tip I learned the hard way. After my brainstorming and selecting work, ready to show clients some ideas, I included an idea I didn’t like, just to provide contrast. I looked at this as educating the clients, with the intention to steer them to the two best and make a decision. Naturally, they liked the bad one best and nothing I said could change their mind. So I had to work on one I hated. That one never made it into my design portfolio!

  18. chase says:

    This was a great article! I can’t wait to forward it to our design community out here in northwest indiana. You said in one article what many of us have been struggling with in terms of dealing with clients who want a whole brand package for $500. It just doesn’t work that way. I like telling people, “would you take that as a two week pay” Nope neither would I. Thank you for writing it. Keep up the good work.


  19. Misty says:

    Wow, this is really great information. So clear and focused. It totally appreciate it.

  20. Wonderful article. Good reminder. Valuable information. Thank you.

  21. Great article. You have covered a lot of areas that were a grey zone for most of us over the years. Thank You.

  22. Greg Jackson says:

    Great article (but wonder if ‘bare minimum’ is defeating the purpose of this a bit??) Also, there are other factors – especially personal circumstances (family, mortage, rent etc) that can take these fees up or down. Is this based on renting a studio or a home-based business? And what about copyright fees! I’m not arguing the fee structure – this is about right for my circumstances. And I understand this is general overview – it is way too complicated to cover in one article. Once again, well done!

    • All good points Greg. There are a great many complexities involved in graphic design pricing. I had to restrain myself from making this a book. My goal with the article was to try and demystify the subject somewhat and give clients a basic understanding of the “get what you pay for” concept. If all they get out of it is an understanding that designers struggle financially as much as anyone else, I’m happy. Too many people have this notion that designers overcharge and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
      Your point about the bare minimum is well taken too. Perhaps I was being a little too diplomatic when I included that, but I guess I wanted to give people a number that represented an amount below which getting anything of value is impossible. I’d rather people spend nothing than spend something and get nothing for it.
      Thanks for your input!
      Shaun Hensher recently posted..Brand (New), You’re RetroMy Profile (dofollow)

  23. Great article … I found it on Linkedin and I truly enjoyed reading all of it … Thanks for posting.

  24. vj/dj says:

    hi dude, great article…i always have a question about how do desingers manage to charge for their work or how do they retain their clients because these days i see too much of free stuff and readymade things online and mostly people goes to experienced designer for their work rather than freshers and on the other hand fresh designers charges less to get project….. fresher and established designers somehow managing but those mid level designers finding it hard to face today’s market…. thanks a lot for making it clear that “all designers put more effort and money to make a complete design and for which they charge to client” also that car example is very good…cheers

  25. sheila says:

    Great article, it’s nice to know I’m not overcharging! Sometimes I get a little depressed because I *stupidly* look on Craigslist for work, and there are “designers” on there offering “logos” for $25. Seriously.

    I think also you should include in your break-down of prices the VALUE of said design, especially when it comes to logos and brand building. For example, even though a logo (or whatever) might take x amount of hours and work, that client is going to continue to get value from it for years to come. For example, let’s say you design them a logo for $2,000, and they use it for 10 years. That breaks down to only $200 a year for that logo, yet it’s continually adding value to their business. Even Business Week Global Brands reported that “the value of well-branded companies is 70% greater than the value of their tangible assets”. That is HUGE.

    So in a nutshell, I think the value factor needs to be taken into account in the price we charge too, and educate ourselves (and our clients) as to how much we’re adding to their business over the long haul.

  26. Mariella V says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! Incredibly well put and helpful; as an illustrator also educated in graphic design, this question comes up over and over.

    Also, incredibly timely, considering the e-mail I found in my inbox today from a would-be client who wants to have a bunch of different artists do “tests” for game screens and assets, then pick the style they want specifically while only paying that artist an amount “to be discussed afterwards”…sheesh. >.> Worst part is that a fellow illustrator friend of mine was the one that suggested me. +facepalm+

  27. Mark Hilsden says:

    Your article neatly sums up a number of experiences that I’ve had over the years although primarily an illustrator I’ve created many designs that revolve around illustration and when I first started to sell commissions I would price far to low. It took a business friend to suggest doubling the price but I didn’t have the courage to do that although I did increase the price and he gave me two commissions. Once I delivered the artwork I let him know that I had only be in business for a few months and asked him if he had a budget in mind and then he told me that he would happily have paid three times as much as I charged him. Today my pricing is a little more sophisticated but the real moral of the story is don’t be scared to charge a good price for the unique skills that you have.

  28. Audrey Ross | coconut grove luxury homes says:

    I think this is the first time that I’ve read a detailed post on graphic design pricing. Graphic design I feel, is like the soul of a project. I’ve read just s couple of your posts so I’ll look forward to read more.

  29. dalton says:

    thank you this helped alot

  30. Anne says:

    As a graphic artist who came up when there were no computers, it was a bit easier to charge and get paid for the work. Now that online colleges offer Graphic Design and everyone has MS Word and access to clip art they think they’re going to be the next Milton Glaser (though I am sure NONE of them know who that is).

    What most people fail to realize is no amount of fancy software (not including Word) is going to make you a graphic artist worth a serif. If you have no creativity and inherent sense of design, color, or how typography works, you’re going to churn out the type of work people on Craigslist are willing to pay money for.

    Since I live near the Savannah College of Art and Design, Craigslist is rife with people looking for cheap or FREE labor from students. Instead of posting my usual snarky retort to those posters, I will offer a link to this site instead and hope they get educated.

  31. KING says:

    I need a couple bookcovers designed

  32. DesignFacet

    Great article, really enjoyed reading it. I hope all graphic designers can set themselves a high standard of return for their work.

  33. Create or Die says:

    Words of truth!
    Create or Die recently posted..eleven Hair + Bar + DesignMy Profile

  34. Ehsaan Mesghali

    AMEN BROTHER! this post is amazing. i use to participate in those bs competition things but it was such a waste of time and energy i eventually gave up. im going to send this article to all my future clients LOL!

  35. monk says:

    I live in Israel and I just wish people will agree to pay these sums for design work.

    I’m in the industry for 7+ years and haven’t seen many designers that can charge more then 1000$ for just logo.
    usually a full branding work (including logo, stationary, and extra stuff sometimes a simple website is included) will be around 2000$-3500$.

    The problem is there are a lot of uneducated designers working for less then 30$ per hr. and a lot of advertising studios who take all the big clients since they can offer free or cheap advertising, but do crap design work.

    If you plan to be a real designer in Israel its really isn’t about the money it’s because you love this profession.

  36. Amanda Wall

    Nicely written, pal. It is so important to get this information out. I’ve featured you on my website to spread the knowledge.
    Amanda Wall recently posted..Graphic Design PricingMy Profile

  37. John says:

    Pricing your is a difficult thing to do especially when you do not know where to start. As for clients they do not always realise you get what you pay for, until they realise the work they paid $100 for, has been outsourced to Asia.

  38. Duane says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I appreciate the insight, it sounds like a voice of the artist.

  39. Karen says:

    Thanks so much for the this article, it was very helpful and very well explained!

  40. Dwayne says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been struggling with this issue for a while with my own design business. People admire great work, but don’t appreciate the value of the work nor the time invested. I was thinking that maybe i should go down on my prices when I came across your article. You have brought to light all of the thoughts in my head.

    I will not go down on my prices!!!!
    I paid too darn much for school to do a logo for $50 and respect my art too much to put out logos without research.

  41. Emily says:

    This is a great guide for business to build a budget and to have a reference tool when receiving quotes from graphic designers to balance work experience vs pricing.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this for the public to utilize.
    Emily recently posted..Ashleigh Bartlett : Half MaskMy Profile

  42. The old phrase: “You get what you pay for!” Good article.

  43. JP says:

    Simply Brilliant!

    Your article was very insightful and helpful. As a recent grad its hard to understand how much to charge. Your article helped me to understand its OK to charge a little more if your work can back it up. As students/recent grads we tend to charge so little just to help build a good portfolio. Its hard to gain experience when few people give you an opportunity to gain experience. Your idea about helping non profit organizations to help build your portfolio was genius. Thanks man I will deff forward this to all my graphic designer friends.

  44. Sandra says:

    Thanks…this was very helpful as we need to show our unique business through everything that we offer.

  45. Amazing article!

    I really appreciate your help!
    I just started my business, and I find it hard to win bids with the government… I might charge to high, I don’t really know. I find it hard to explain the client how much a (example: logo ) would worth, but know with your help I can really explain how to charge!

    Once again thanks for all this great information!


  46. ferzam says:

    great article. this guides me on what to do with my smalltime business graphic art designs…

  47. Herb jones says:

    Excellent post. I think that your prices are really in good range. Any one can use your service. :)
    Thank you
    Herb jones recently posted..How Buying Spice Incense Online Can Help In Your MeditationMy Profile

  48. Mia says:

    Thank you for a wonderful article, it says it all.

    I totally save this post.

    MJ Vision – creative design

  49. Fiona

    Also, thanks for writing this post, I am at my wits end trying to price my work, and feel like I am undervalued…

  50. Rayshel says:

    Nice post! For beginners in web designing this article is very important to keep in mind to have basic designing a website! I’m also learning to build my own website. Thanks for the post!

  51. Amy Carter says:

    Excellent post about design. As I am working with our design department on a regular basis, I see their challenges day in and day out…and different perspective is always useful. I will post a link to this on my blog. Thanks!

  52. Selda | Florida Homes

    How can you be sure that $10K will not get you a sloppy job :)

  53. phantom says:

    sometimes you say pick a experience designer,sometime pick a
    fresh graduated student then you said don’t design with inexperience designer…….. talk talk and talk , where is the solution ????

    • The solution is to set your budget and choose a designer who is able to work within it. If you cannot afford an experienced professional, you might be able to find a student or fresh graduate who can help you out.

  54. Tapana says:

    Thank you! I’m a fresh graduate now I know that I have to charge my client more!!!><

  55. Char

    Great article. I have roughly a year experience and just added web development to my skill set. I was charging way below market. I was charging $25/hour, but re-calculated everything and now I’m charging $55/hour. I’m sure I can go a bit higher considering I’m in Vancouver and its so frickin expensive.

  56. Marcin Różewski

    Thanks for this post, it is really useful. Many people do not know what prices used in the design of websites, some of these prices inflate and others underestimate, so you can have some kind of example. Thanks again and best regards
    Marcin Różewski recently posted..How to make animation 3d text in Blender 2.67My Profile

  57. Jenny

    Thanks great article, good guidance for those like me just starting out.

  58. Jennny Smith says:

    Fantastic information! This is an amazing resource for kids just graduating from college who are trying to figure out how the freelance thing works. Thanks for posting!

  59. Daniel

    Very, very relevant. It seems most other blogs, books and resources are afraid of giving actual numbers. This is very accurate to what I’ve done in the past as well.

  60. Shari Davies says:

    I understand why graphic designers are worth their weight in gold. I spent hours this summer trying to design a label for a jar. If we ever get our business up and running, I will gladly pay someone to do the graphic design. It is not as easy as it looks….

  61. Komal says:

    Well Written and Very informational

  62. Hannah says:

    Very Well Written!! Thank you so much for the information!!

  63. ChiChi Chiweshe says:

    Thanks so much fro this excellent article! It’s such a great guide and I would like to reference you in some of the work Im doing to train clients and designers about pricing and things like that, if that’s all right! Thank you so much!!

  64. Pricing can be confusing to understand but what it comes down to is you get what you paid for. If you pay more your logo is probably going to be better, simple as that.

  65. Nongmaithem Thomas says:

    I have been wondering how to charge my overseas customers, specially in Asia. Great Article and a big help.

  66. Impressive information about graphic design.
    Edward Villanueva recently posted..Miami, among the cities with the most expensive homesMy Profile

  67. Susan Devitt says:

    Thanks for the good read! although written years ago, it’s quite relevant today. 10 years ago I made $50K a year, last year I made $12K. I just can’t make a living, as people want to pay $10 an hour, if I can find work. I’m very sad, depressed and frustrated about it as I have 20 years experience and it’s about all I’m quite skilled to do, and I love it. :(

  68. Susan says:

    I am in the process of quoting on a large multi-page document – I will quote on cover design and overall design separately from the actual formatting of the many pages. Is there a standard amount (30 min per page for example) that one would use to quote on something like this? there are over 100 pages. thanks

  69. AK says:

    PLEASE, for the love of my eyes and the eyes of all other readers, PLEASE change the typeface of your blog to something remotely legible, not Gill Sans black.

    A Professional Graphic Designer.

    • Please, for the love of your future clients and colleagues, learn the difference between Myriad regular and Gill Sans Black. At any rate, this theme is as old as the hills and I plan to update it as soon as my workload slows down to a reasonable rate.


      A Registered Graphic Designer without a chip on his shoulder.

  70. Abigail anoop says:

    And what about labels? How do we charge out client for that? I have a cliet right now who has a small dishwashing liquid business and she wants me to design a label, big and small so that’s two labels, how much do I charge her?

  71. Sara

    Thanks for such a thorough coverage on this topic! Sadly, still very relevant today. Anything that you’d update on it today? Thanks!

    • Aside from the horribly outdated design of my entire site (Oh the life of a busy designer – everyone else’s jobs take precedence over my own)? ;)
      I don’t think I’d change much. Perhaps my “bare minimum” prices listed should be a bit higher now.

  72. Totally true and i would just add 1 more method, sometimes i feel it works and that is pricing per template, for web design and front-end development, and keep the highest rate for the homepage

  73. Rachel

    It’s so true. You get what you pay for. Designers are so underrated.

  74. zoyoyayep says:

    The things I like most is that right price chart. Thanks, mate!! Many of us don’t know the exact price of graphic design.

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