The hardest part of being a graphic designer is being able to price yourself, when I first started out freelancing about 5 years ago I really struggled with grasping the concept of giving myself worth and not selling myself short. But how do I prove to clients that i’m “worth” what i’m asking for, but also making sure I win the job because I needed the cash? There are so many designers out there that can offer the same expertise that I can, so what makes me special enough to charge X amount for a job that someone can charge half the price for?
I think - without naming any names (but rhymes with diver) - there are places “out there” that can charge as little as £5 for a logo design, and places like that have given people an unrealistic approach to the cost of an experienced graphic designer and their potential…
In my early freelancing years I would reduce my costs down dramatically to make sure I won a job, I would do favours for friends and give people “mates rates” even if we weren’t actually mates. But I learnt quickly that although my portfolio was growing, my bank balance wasn’t. All the time and effort I would put into creating something unique, I wasn’t being rewarded for. Now, don’t get me wrong it’s not all about the money, and it’s certainly not the main reason I live for doing what I do; I love being able to take a brief and turn it into a finished piece that’s adored by a client. The amazing feedback I get is gratitude enough. But essentially; a reason I’m charging for said work is because it pays my bills.
Over the last three years I have learnt so much about knowing my worth when it comes to design; I have logged my time on jobs to understand what my rates should be - this took months of studying my books deciding to and fro whether to charge at an hourly rate or to have set prices for certain jobs; but in the end each job was different, each client was different. Some designs I would nail straight away, others would take days, weeks of back and forth emails; tweaking pixel by pixel until a client was happy - and that’s ok. Ultimately my job is to make them happy but I struggled to find a happy medium when It came to pricing myself for the work.
Then even when I think I’ve got my pricing plan worked out, I still think in the back of mind - should I have charged more for that? In hindsight; probably yes.
For the first time last year I experienced a gratitude that I have never felt before; a few of my lovely clients (new and old) offered me more than I have quoted them for! Not because I was “too cheap”, but because they appreciated my time and effort for the work I undertook. It was at this point I finally understood that some people - although appreciate the generous offer of a discount - are willing to pay the correct amount for the right service.
This year I took a vow to myself that I won’t waver my worth to ensure I get a job; If I were to offer X amount for a logo design and I’m told I’m too expensive, then to cut that amount down to secure the job. What’s stopping said client to ask why If I was willing to design the logo for cheaper, didn’t I offer that in the first place?
Whether you’re a graphic designer, photographer or you’re a crafter who hand makes intricate pieces of jewellery. Whatever trade you’re in, if you’re going it alone just promise me you’ll think about your worth? There will always be people who won’t buy from you because you’re “too expensive”, but there will also be more people who do buy from you because they appreciate your effort. So that logo you designed becomes a recognised brand by millions, or that photograph hangs on a wall for years, or that piece of jewellery is passed down generation to generation. If you love what you do, make it worth it.