Talking about money can make anyone uncomfortable, especially for beginners. Being designers, we posses skills that very few individuals have. The good thing for students is that if you’re freelancing while still in school, you’re most likely not relying on a paycheque from month to month, so you can afford to do some jobs for a lesser price (that does not mean free). The problem is, what the hell do you charge?
Why Don’t We Talk About Money?
There’s a couple articles I’ve enjoyed reading on the art of determining a price for web projects, such as “The Dark Art of Pricing” by Jessica Hische and “How Much to Charge for Design Work?” by Jacob Cass. Although these articles and “freelancing formulas” are a good starting point, I feel like the industry as a whole has a hard time landing on hard numbers. For example, “I charge ‘x’ dollars for ’x’ type of work and it will take ’x’ long.” Although there are a lot of factors that can ultimately adjust our pricing, this ambiguity makes it even more difficult for design beginners to come up with a solid hourly rate.
I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why I think it’s hard for creative people to talk about money and how we can overcome it:
We Don’t Know What We’re Worth
Setting a price for your work is a direct correlation between how much value you perceive in your work. This can be very subjective from designer to designer, but often times we don’t even know what our services are worth. Lower prices will most likely garner lower-quality clients, while higher prices are directly associated with higher quality work – matching you with higher-quality clients.
We Like to Be Modest
Nobody likes to be greedy, but designers need to make a living as well. Often times, I will second guess my initial quote for clients simply because I’m not sure how the client will respond. Stick with your gut and stand by your prices; losing a project once and while isn’t a big deal. Make sure you always include a quote for all services rendered, regardless of how small the task is. If you work with the right clients, they will be happy to pay for a higher quality end result.
We Don’t Want to Make More/Less Than the Next Guy
I think a large reason of the problem is that we are so uncertain about what others are charging for the same type of work. I usually start at about $75/hour, and I have been slowly increasing that as I feel my work become more proficient. I’d suggest for design students to begin somewhere in the $25-40 range (USD/CAD) and slowly increase it every project you do. If you think you are charging too little, you most likely are.
Break It Down
In Danny Outlaw’s blog post, he breaks down your hourly price into a few questions you should ask yourself:
1. What services am I pricing?
2. How much does it cost me to run my business?
3. How much money do I want to make?
4. What is everyone else charging?
5. How bad do people want what I have?
6. How good am I at what I do?
7. How long have I been doing this?
8. Will I charge by the hour or by project?
9. How much can my client afford?
10. What’s my business strategy?