Being a recent design graduate and being asked to quote on your first freelance gig exciting…until you sit down at your keyboard and try to actually type out how much you’re going to charge.
You know you’ve got the skills and enthusiasm you need to do a great job  BUT your potential clients are probably seeking quotes from people with way more experience than you.
You don’t want to look overly ambitious and expensive, BUT you don’t want to be so cheap that you’re working your butt off for nothing.
Most of all, you really want to get this job.
Whilst there’s no magic formula or universal standard for freelance design work, we’ve come up with the following guide to help you navigate this tricky territory a little more like a seasoned pro.

Ask the Questions.

There’s no harm in asking your client for some hints about their budget and what they’re expecting from you.  Don’t fall into the trap of making assumptions about their needs- you’ll run the risk of massively over quoting or underquoting for the work.
For example, If you’re being  asking you to quote on a logo design, find out:

  • How many rough concepts are they wanting?
  • What style are they considering? Simple & minimalist, or something that will send your Photoshop layer count into the triple digits?  There’s a very different price point attached to each!
  • How many revisions do they want included in the price?
  • What turn around time are they expecting? Will you need to drop everything and focus solely on this task, or can it be completed in between other jobs?

Consider an hourly rate or project based pay.

Some freelancers prefer to quote their services to clients at an hourly rate, for example – I’ll design a website for you at $50/per hour
However, we’re fans of project-based pricing for new designers for a few reasons:

  • When you’re working on your first professional jobs, you’re probably a little slower than your competitors, the last thing you want is to leave your clients with a huge time-based bill and have them decide to call somebody else next time.
  • Offering project based pay makes life a lot easier for your clients, budget wise.
  • It’s very easy to under/over estimate the hours you’ll need to complete a project when you’re new to the professional design game!

Consider what your competition is charging.

Whilst it’s great to search the going industry rate for your line of work, one mistake people run into is looking at what other people charge, and then undercutting their prices.   Remember, you’re a professional, not a discount store.  The last thing you want to be is that designer who only secures jobs by being the cheapest, because it’s a slippery slope.  There’s only so far you can discount before you might as well be working for free.
Remember- nobody will see value in your work if you don’t value it yourself.

Don’t forget your associated costs.

Be aware of how much you’re spending on items such as software, sourcing and purchasing materials, labour, transportation and resources.  How much will this eat into your profit?  You can decide to incorporate these into your overall quote at cost or with a % loading above the cost to yourself (Charging a 10% – 20% loading is commonplace in some industries).

Be clear in your quotes

Making assumptions about what you’re including in a quote is just asking for an unhappy customer.  Be sure to clarify exactly what you’ll be doing, how many files/pieces you’ll be handing over and by what date.   This way you’ve got a strong footing to reassess your quote if your client asks you to go above and beyond your original agreement.

Image: ELLE Poland March 2017 Daga Ziober by Marcin Kempski