There is a lot of flexibility in terms of time and cost as a freelance graphic designer, but what exactly are the standards? More specifically, how do we determine how much we should sell our designs to a client? To my knowledge, there really is no set value for artwork because art, as we all know, is subjective, and design is essentially art. Through my opinion and personal experiences as a graphic designer, I will provide my thinking process on how I run my personal freelance work hoping someone starting out in design freelancing has something to take away from a fellow designer to determine the value of their own work.
As someone who observes other artists’ experiences, I think there are inaccurate perceptions on what influences the value of a design. The first perception is that the older you are, the higher the cost should be. This is because people immediately correlate age with experience. Controversially, I believe the amount of experience is irrelevant. If you asked yourself what makes a logo designed by a designer who has 5+ years of experience different from a logo designed by someone who has 1 year of experience, how would you be able to answer for sure until you see the actual results side by side? Just because a designer has more experience does not necessarily mean his/her logo is more sufficient to the client’s needs than another designer’s logo. The same applies to education because there are plenty of great graphic designers who do not have art or design degrees.
The perception that bothers me most is that people assume that the more detailed a design is, the value of the design is worth more. I’m willing to argue that it can take just as much time to design a logo that is simplistic compared to a logo with lots of detail. A logo with lots of detail like Versace doesn’t mean it’s “better” than a simplistic logo like Nike. Both are visually appealing and work well in accordance to their brands.
On the flip side, I believe there are some important factors that absolutely shape a design’s price range. Where people think experience and the quantity of work they have done is important, I believe knowledge of the elements and principals of art and design are very vital. When an artist follows these guidelines, all that remains is creativity. A designer’s individual creativity is key when determining an efficient design. This leads to the strength of a portfolio, which is the biggest factor to deciding the price of your work. If a client sees a strong portfolio, they are inclined to pay more due to the perceived higher quality of content.
Another important factor is having references. If your previous clients, associates, or friends have recommended you to a new client, you would have more credibility than if you were to present yourself without any sources. References will reinforce your reliability and proficiency, increasing your chances of increasing your value.
From my observation and experience, there are two main ways designers determine payment: by length of time to design or per design quantity. For the length of time to design, some charge per hour or a fixed amount of time such as a day. For per design, it depends on the piece; a logo is priced differently than a web design.
Personally, I experiment with new processes all the time with clients to see what works well and what doesn’t. Here are some variations:
-For each extra design, I charge half of the first ($300 for first design, $150 for second, etc.)
-One fixed price for ANY design (Logos, posters, web design all cost the same)
-The price is up to my client (their perception of what the cost should be)
Because there’s no set standards for selling designs, these variations are here to creatively give your clients a choice, as well as presenting a unique business model they may perceive to be more efficient.
Client preference X Your knowledge & proficiency = Efficient design
The client’s preferences and guidelines should always take priority over your own. You should always cater to a client’s needs as they are the one hiring you to do the job and not the other way around. However, as a knowledgeable, reliable, and proficient designer (which are all factors I mentioned earlier), you can contribute your expertise beyond the guidelines to provide an efficient design, satisfying both you and your client. If all else fails, just remember to let your designs speak, sell, and set the prices for themselves.