Designing has become one of the most rewarding and profitable careers in today’s world. The professional world of designing has seen many old and new designers switching from employment to self-employment, due to the rewarding nature of this business. Such designers have done quite a good job in producing call-to-action campaigns resulting into a wider clientele. However, among these, there are many who cut a sorry figure when it comes to costing or charging their design services.
The basic trouble arises in design costing due to the nature of this business. Costing for one’s products is not at all a big deal, however, when it comes to costing for your services, people often find themselves in an acute dilemma. Same happens when a designer does a very good and fulfilling project, but when the client asks for the costing, he totally shuts down and finds himself looking around and asking the fellow designers as what do they charge and how to go about this process. Creating designs for tri-fold brochures will cost clients a different amount than designing printed postcards.
Not every friend of yours is sincere to you and especially when he or she is also your striking competitor. So as a result, such a designer ends up under-charging and disappointing himself or over-charging and disappointing his client. If you are on a tight budget, you can check some inexpensive web hosting packages online that will also give you a good service.
When such an issue came into my observation, I couldn’t help but jot down some points and map out an article dedicated to design costing. Following are some facts about pricing your design services:
First Rule, That There is No Rule
If, for any reason, you expect this article to provide you with rules and regulations and set guidelines, then you are seriously mistaken. The very first thing you need to learn about design costing is that there is not hard and fast rule for it. There are no books or guidelines that may help you actually make good costing. The basic reason is that designing is an extremely variable process. Some designs may look simple and easy, yet only the designer might know how much effort and research he has put into making it.
Therefore my suggestion is that every designer needs to develop his or her own method for pricing, and even if you do make your own rules, you probably won’t be able to follow the same rule on every project. It is better to not only have your own formulas of costing but these should also be extremely flexible, highly variable and according to the project.
Costing – A Necessary Evil
Like all other creative professionals of the world, designers usually like to focus on their work more than any other aspect of their business. Although their business is totally commercial and aimed at money-making, still, they are not very comfortable with pricing their services. However, while working on a design project, they should be aware that they will have to face the costing aspect sooner or later. Even more, they cannot hire anyone for this job or leave it to a friend to charge their services, as they are the only ones who know how much time and effort has been put into a certain project and how it should be valued in terms of money.
Especially and particularly, for freelance designers, costing is a necessary evil. One should understand that freelancers wear a lot of hats, and design costing is just one of them. Therefore, it is important to get comfortable with it as earlier as possible and save yourself from many long-term issues.
Charging Less is Inevitable for Starters
There is an important thing that all the design newbies should understand, i.e. no matter how good you design or how skillful you are with your work, there is something that will always keep you from costing your work at higher prices and that is the sole fact that you are new. As soon as you enter the market, as a freelance designer, you will find that you need to prove yourself to the market and establish a name. Charging less is the only way you can beat the raging competition and get your share of goodies from the market.
Hourly Costing Vs Project-based Costing
There are two basic formats on which designer around the world charge their clients i.e. hourly costing or project-based costing. Different designers opt for any of these two formats owing to their routine, work pattern and market trend. It all depends on you as how would you like to take it across and on which format your clients are comfortable paying you. However, in general, project-based costing is more common than hourly rates, but it is better that you explore the pros and cons of both formats and then make a decision.
Learning through Trial and Error
Wherever there is fluctuation in the value for your services, freelancers and even the bigger organizations opt for the most comfortable, yet risky method of costing, i.e. trial and error. Although there is very little margin to experiment whenever there is money involved, however, for starters, trial and error method gives you long-term benefits.
If you have made a mistake in design costing (under-charged and client and lost a big chunk of money or over-charged a client and lost him for being too expensive), always remember that it is normal and you should learn from it. The more you learn from your experiences, the trial and error method will automatically diminish.
Your Prices Speak for Your Work
Design costing is a very tricky business. You need to strike a balance between your high and low prices as this can lead to your reputation. How? Well, pricing is one of the most solid and common way of judging the abilities of a designer (sometimes even more than his or her portfolio). When people usually meet a low-pricing designer,(no matter how well you have designed their brochures, flyers, post cards or business cards) the first thing that comes in their mind is that he or she must not be very skilled or experienced. Your prices impact your impression on your potential clients.
Your prices also impact; rather speak for your own idea about your services and abilities. By costing your services very low you will eventually convince yourself that you are not worth more. Then again, if you cost your services too high, you will indulge in feelings of over-confidence and will not be able to land many clients. So it is always good to keep a balanced costing habit that should benefit you more.
It’s OK to be Uncertain
As I have mentioned repeatedly earlier, design costing is a very vague and fluctuating process. Especially the freelance designers, no matter how experienced they are in their business they do feel slight uncertainly while costing their design projects every time. So either you are a starter or a veteran freelance designer, it is OK to be uncertain about design costing. The majority freelancers struggle with design costing and are often very uncertain, so being uncertain doesn’t mean that you are inferior or lack talent. Take the time to educate yourself through learning and experience.
Sometimes it is Good to Lose a Project
This a fact especially addressed to the designers who are new in freelancing. When you start a business, there is a special hunger for more and more work coming in. This is totally understandable and quite acceptable, however, as soon as you start getting regular work, you need to wash this lusty attitude away and become choosy about your clients and projects.
All of us have a limited amount of time available for work in a day, and taking a job that does not pay what you need to make it to a good livelihood, isn’t going to be ideal. If you see that the client is very annoying, negatively critical or paying less, your freelancing gives you all the rights to drop that project and focus on more positive ones. Once you have dropped a project then there is no need to worry about it, because, after all, only a freelance design can enjoy this privilege!