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Article: How to Set Your Freelance Graphic Design Rates

How to Set Your Freelance Graphic Design Rates

Graphic design might be one of the most sought-after services in the current digital era. Although the digital literacy among the younger generation is higher, not everyone can make a good design. Therefore, they would employ graphic design services for a price.

Being a freelance worker is a lucrative job if you are pricing your service correctly. However, determining service rates is difficult in a free market. There are many other freelance workers in the pool that will offer a lower price.



Why Should You Choose This Career Path?

Before learning how to determine freelance graphic design rates, it might be helpful to learn why should you choose this career path. After all, in the traditional job market, being a freelance worker is not ideal. Here are some reasons that cause people to choose this career path:

1. Freedom to Pursue Creative Niche

Working in a graphic design agency has its downside when it comes to creativity. The person would be unable to totally pursue their creativity. Since creativity is the heart of a design, this situation can be very discouraging to the person.

By working a freelance graphic design job, this troubling situation can be avoided. It is because the person can choose their own projects. The freelance position also enables creative people to showcase their personal style.

2. Flexible Working Hours

Some people are finding it hard to work according to a fixed schedule. Graphic designs projects also tend to be unsuitable for a five-to-nine schedule because their difficulty level and time requirement would vary. Thus, people tend to opt to go freelance in this industry despite starting at a low price.

Being a freelance graphic artist allows the person to work on a design whenever their creative juice arises. This work system also enables people who are more of nighttime people to work according to when their energy is at the highest peak.

3. Direct Relationships with Clients

Being an in-house graphic artist to a design house offers stability, but it can hinder someone from building a direct relationship with their clientele. Most of the time, the worker only receives tasks from their supervisor along with the specifications without meeting the clients.

For a freelance artist, this should not be an issue as you will interact directly with clients. Because of that, the freelance artist would be able to deliver a design that the client has expected from them. The return rate to your graphic design service would be higher.


Understanding Skill's Worth

Estimating freelance graphic design rates is similar to estimating the person's skill in graphic design. It is especially a difficult task for a rookie artist. Since they have limited experience in paid jobs, they might not be able to rate themselves adequately.

Due to this, a newbie freelance artist would tend to set their price at a low point. They want to appear more competitive compared to other freelance graphic design artists in the competitive market. By offering a lower price range or rates, they believe that they would be hired.

It is alright to set a low price for your initial stint in freelance graphic design projects. At this time, a newbie is still trying to build its design portfolio. However, it is important to avoid underpricing one's rates. Here are some strategies to avoid the problems for a beginner:

1. Avoid Uniform Rates

For a newbie graphic artist, it is easier to have uniform rates because this system eliminates the need to determine a price for every new job. However, it is something that freelance workers should avoid at the beginning of their careers.

The thing is, every graphic design project is different. A freelance artist would work with different people who have different demands and time constraints. Thus, setting up a similar price for every job is unfair for the client and the artist. Consistent rates most often equal undervaluing one's potential.

2. Focus on Quality More Than Quantity

Another thing that a new freelance artist would do is focusing more on quantity than quality. Sometimes, an employer would give design tasks in bulk. The graphic artist must create several works to fulfill the project. The rates are determined by the number of jobs finished.

This work system actually harms a graphic design artist's creativity and attention to detail. The artist is likely to focus more on making a quick but simple design and setting aside the artistry. Thus, it is better to set different rates or reject jobs like this altogether.


3. Consider Other Expenses

A new freelance artist tends to set a low price because they do not consider other expenses. When determining rates, they would only do it based on the time or average market rates. It will bite them back at the end.

Doing a graphic design job actually demands multiple resources. The person should pay for the electricity, internet connection, and graphic design software. The price for each job should include these expenses. The rates also need to include taxes because freelance workers must pay them.

4. Don't Undervalue Your Skills

Every new graphic artist makes a grave mistake by devaluing their design skill. It means that the person disregards their capability by deciding on a lower price range or rates. This usually happens when the freelance artist only has a short design portfolio to show.

Most freelance workers tend to start because graphic design is their hobby. They develop skill expertise through hobbies, and therefore setting up rates becomes difficult. Having more experienced freelance artists as friends to help decide the price for the service would be helpful.

5. Charge for Short Deadlines

Another issue that a newbie freelance graphic artist will experience is not charging an extra price for tasks with short deadlines. An express design job requires more resources than the conventional ones. Thus, it is normal to charge higher rates for that.

The low price of a new graphic artist is something that many people have taken advantage of. Some companies even opt to employ a newbie freelance artist solely. It is a nice opportunity to build a design portfolio as long as you remember the five points above.

Once your graphic design career has started to take off, it is a great opportunity to assess the more suitable rates. With a good design portfolio, the freelance artist can work with bigger companies that would pay good rates for high-quality works.


Important Tips in Determining Rates for Your Works

Maybe you are still confused as to how a freelance artist should determine their rates. The following tips are more practical for deciding the freelance graphic design rates:

1. Understanding the Market Rates

Knowing the common rates in a certain graphic design market would be helpful for a beginner freelance artist. Usually, the rates would form a certain spectrum. Within that spectrum, you can decide where your price should have to be.

The easiest way to do this is by checking out a freelance job listing websites in your country. You should look for graphic design artists whose skills and experiences correlate with you. Check the range of the rates and then decide where your most fair price lies.


2. Deciding Price for Added Service

The second tip for a new freelance artist would be to determine a price for added service. More often than not, a newbie would give out flat rates for all of the graphic design jobs that they are taking. That is not fair at all. It may even incur a loss in the person's graphic design business.

It is recommended to decide on a price range for a basic service and then develop it from there. Here are some common added services that more seasoned freelance artists would charge extra rates for:

  • Doing a project in a very short amount of time (tight deadline).
  • Doing a project that requires extensive research.
  • Providing the client with the source file for the graphic design product.
  • Revision for more than two times will incur an additional price.

Even a new freelance artist should apply those concepts in determining their rates or price list. Although it is the kick-off stage of one's graphic design business, it would be harmful to lower the freelance graphic design rates just to meet people's expectations.

3. Client Background Checkup

There are freelance artists who are still hesitant about offering a price that is too high for a prospective client. 

To strengthen the resolve, it might be helpful to conduct a background check on the company you are working with to decide on rates. It can be done through the company's website.

Doing a background check on the client is helpful to determine the price of a graphic design. It is because you would have a more comprehensive understanding of the client's capability of affording certain rates. A bigger company would agree to pay more for a high-quality design.

The freelance artist would also know what kind of service that the client would value. This way, the freelance artist can offer a more valuable project that matches the client's expectations and price standard. It is also easier to decide on the final freelance graphic design rates.


Why Is It Important to Set the Price List or Rates Correctly?

To some people, especially freelance workers who only do graphic design as a side gig, setting the appropriate rates might seem finicky. This opinion is totally incorrect, though. Setting the right rates for your graphic design service will be the most important part of your freelance gig.

A freelance job in graphic design can be something that brings you a lot of financial benefits. However, it can also be a total waste of time if you do not set correct freelance graphic design rates. Here are some reasons behind the appropriate rates for your service:

1. You Need to Pay for Expenses and Security

In this era, being realistic is really important. Everyone needs to pay their high price. These expenses are not only graphic design-related; they are also personal. 

Additionally, it is important for a freelance worker to have security accounts such as health insurance, pension, and emergency fund.

To someone who relies on their freelance job, setting up the right price is necessary as their income depends on it. They need to adjust their rates according to the basic expense price that they pay every month and the expectation of graphic design projects.

2. Some Graphic Design Jobs Take a Lot of Resources and Energy

Deciding on the right price is also important because some projects will take a significant chunk of your time. It means that you have to put in more resources and effort in order to finish the task. The rates should compensate for all of the hard work.

When a freelance artist is taking a difficult graphic design project, they would be unable to focus on other tasks. It means that you would not be able to take other jobs while doing these difficult jobs. Thus, having great rates is very important.


3. Tackling Creative Projects to Boost Skills

There are some freelance workers who would only take on difficult projects than the minuscule ones. Meanwhile, there are others who would work menial jobs with lower price points. The freelance graphic design rates depend on the style of work.

If you are the first type, there is a certain benefit. The projects would be able to boost your skill and improve your portfolio. Without offering an appropriate price list, though, your big efforts would not translate into the comfortable life you are expecting.

4. Being Able to Enjoy Work-Life Balance Better

Without setting an appropriate price, you will not be able to enjoy a work-life balance as a freelance graphic artist. Offering high rates will make fewer clients interested to work with you despite your good design portfolio. They tend to seek a lower price if possible.

However, offering low rates means that you have to work on more graphic design projects to match your monthly expense price. It is important to find a middle ground in this. Your freelance graphic design rates should afford you a nice comfortable life without sacrificing your health.


Hourly Rates or Project Rates?: Deciding on Pricing System

This dilemma is a common dilemma among many new freelance graphic design artists. They do not know which price system would be more beneficial to them, both financially and skill-wise. People are very divided about deciding on the rates.

It might be helpful to look at the rates from the client and the graphic artist's perspectives. Finding a middle ground would help you to offer the best freelance graphic design rates. 

1. From the Graphic Design Artist

If you are a freelance artist aiming to make this line of job a long-run career, then hourly rates should be avoided from the beginning. The rates are especially precarious since clients might negotiate for a lower price in certain projects.

There is a downside to using hourly rates as the price system. First of all, the hourly rates price system focuses more on the quantity of time spent on a project. Thus, the quality of the graphic design work tends to be set aside in order to fit the time constraint.

Moreover, it is very difficult to decide how many hours a freelance artist would spend on a project. In the graphic design industry, people usually would work on multiple projects at a time. Each project may span several days or even weeks. Thus, hourly freelance rates will be confusing.

2. From the Client

The perspective of freelance graphic design rates from the client's lens is slightly different. It really depends on the project's circumstances. Some clients may benefit from using the per-project price system. However, in other situations, the hourly rates are more beneficial.

The client's choice is affected by how complicated and important the project is. For an important project, they would choose a freelance graphic artist that employs a price-per-project system. It is because the quality of the work tends to be higher.


How to Increase Price Overtime?

At the end of the day, a freelance graphic artist would not want to be stuck at the same price. They would want to slowly increase their price over time as their career goes on. However, increasing freelance graphic design rates is not as easy as it seems.

The artist should be able to offer something more as time goes on. If the graphic jobs do not see improvement as their portfolio gets bigger, it means that the freelance artist is unable to learn from the job. They would not be able to demand a higher price or increase rates for their work.

Here is some method to improve one's skill so that their service price points or rates will be higher as time goes by:

Participating in online classes related to graphic arts to enhance skills.

  • Taking on more diverse freelance projects (maybe offering a low price) so that you will learn more skills.
  • Investing in more sophisticated graphic tools and software so that the results would have higher quality.
  • Networking with other freelance graphic artists to learn more about the current trend within the industry (including price)


Final Words

Although it is easy to enter this industry, surviving in it is also notoriously difficult. Without knowing the right freelance graphic design rates, you are bound to fail your business from the start. Knowing the price points or rates of your skill is important.

Another necessary thing to remember is that you will not see a price increase in your skill quickly. Many freelance artists struggle at the beginning to balance work quality with price. However, if you do this freelance job tenaciously, the rewards are beyond your rates.

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