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Spoiltchild Design

Pricing your work

NOTE: This is an old article written during my involvement with the Designers Guild of Ireland. As that site is no longer around i wanted to put it somewhere i could easily reference.


Ultimately you can charge what you want, depending on what a client is willing to pay and how you rate your own skills and experience.

But starting out, charging can be one of the hardest parts of design. I mean, what do you charge, for what, up to now, has probably been a fun hobby. Many designers starting out undercharge. Its a common fault, and a particularly bad one, not just for your own pockets.

It undervalues your work in the eyes of a client.
It can lead to an unprofessional attitude to your own work and client relationship because you and the client undervalue the work being done.
It lowers the price of design for the industry as a whole, and you will be sorry when you decide to start making a living off of it.

Actually pricing a job is not to difficult with a bit of homework. What you need to do is break down the costs. First of all, Set a salary expectation for yourself a year, given your experience, expertise and requirements. Then break this down to an hourly rate. Add a percentage to this rate to cover the time when there is little work about. It is a good idea to start logging the hours on a project for your self. Not only does it help you estimate jobs in the future, but it can lead to a happier client when you can break a job down for them when it comes time to invoice.

When pricing a project, work out roughly how many hours a project is going to take. Add a bit of extra time to this and keep in mind the wait time for clients to come back with changes, make decisions and sign off designs.

Work out any additional costs for your self. Office rent, supplies, Heat, Phone, courier, and even travel expenses if you have far to travel to the client.
You need to factor in some profit to invest in upgrading software , hardware, training, etc. i.e. investment in your personal development & future.

And finally add 21% vat to your final invoice for handing over to the Tax man.
Note!! Always put this straight into an account and don’t touch it. Seriously don’t even look at it. They will come looking for it and you could end up with quite a hefty bill from them.

It is recommended to have a contract and project plan for keeping you and the client on track and on time. I mention this because it can be a good idea to put in an overtime charge for when a client drags a project beyond the agreed sign off date, and makes continues to make changes beyond the original spec. A problem which is all to common and understandable as they begin to see and use a design in reality.

Another thing I’m afraid you must consider is a deposit. Most designers have been left hanging with half a project while a client decides to use the money for a holiday instead, at least once in their career. Worse still is when you hand over the full designs and suddenly the client cant be contacted(those pesky 24 hour business meetings). So its not unusual now for a designer to ask for a percentage upfront before any design is started at all. How much is up to you. We charge anything from 35% to 50% and have on some occasions charged 100% upfront. We do this for all sized companies. Some of the larger ones will tell you that it is not the way their accounts department works. Stick to your guns, its your business and your terms. Its up to them if they want to work with you or not and on every occasion for us they always able to make an exception when they tried.

There are a number of other ways in which you can protect yourself from being shafted but that’s a whole other article.

Finally add these all up and there you have your cost. Its not that hard really. A little home work at the beginning, some clear details for the client, and its all plain sailing from there.