25 May 2016 by Gemma Church Setting your graphic design rates is no easy task. It’s something that stops most freelance graphic designers in their tracks. Especially for freelance rates, graphic design has some nuances that should be considered. Whilst using conventional freelance rates calculators may provide a loose ballpark figure, it can often be way off the mark. Here is our guide to help you find your true worth and hit that pricing sweet spot. Setting freelance graphic design rates is a challenge and something that is vital to get right from the start. Charging too much or too little can have a long-term impact on your freelance business. We've found that using an online freelance calculator can be misleading as there are too many unquantifiable factors. However, for those who are into ballpark figures, the average hourly rate for a freelance graphic designer in the UK is around £40. Day rates tend to be a little lower. This offers the client more value and provides the freelance graphic designer with more chargeable hours. The day rate, when using online freelance calculators for graphic design rates, also takes into account your location, experience, and age. We, at Freelancer Club, tend not to put too much emphasis on all of these factors (nor do the employers who use our service) so take from that what you will. If your work is strong, your price is right and communication is clear throughout, you've got a good chance of landing the job! Using a range of online tools, the average daily rate of a London based freelance Graphic Designer with 4 - 5 years of experience, aged between 29 - 34 is around £220 (£27.50 per hour). We feel this is too low and doesn't take into account a number of key components. Our data shows an average day rate for someone with similar experience to be closer to £300. There are a few ways you can figure out your hourly rate and many schools of thought on how much to charge a client, however, we have yet to find a calculator or formula that can do it for you. Here are the things to consider when setting your Graphic Design rate. Setting an hourly rate or quoting project by project? Hourly Rate Setting hourly rates has one main advantage over setting graphic design rates per project and that is that you will be paid for the work you do regardless of the time it takes. A fussy client can be as fussy as he or she wishes, the Graphic Designer will still get paid and, most likely, welcome the extra hours. It does, however, come with a level of trust that the freelancer is billing accurately and not taking advantage of the client. Employers (particularly those running startups or small businesses) have a major problem with freelancers who try to bamboozle them with jargon or fail to show their workings when the bill arrives. One way to combat this is to manage the client's expectations from day one. You might say that a project will take 2 days, including 3 drafts, and 1 redesign all within the price. Anything over this and your hourly rate will kick in. What you don't want is for the project to get out of hand and the client to lose trust in you or your service. Professionalism, communication, and respect, generally leads to repeat business or referrals. It's far easier to retain a client than it is to land a new one. Check out time management Apps like Timely or Monday. These tools ensure that you're being transparent and the client can see what they are paying for. A simple looking logo design may come with a very picky client who requests multiple changes and reworks. Protecting yourself against this type of overflow is paramount to your survival (more on this later). First and foremost, it's a good idea to know your hourly rate. How To Set Your Graphic Design Rate As a freelancer, you should be charging for your flexibility, quality, experience, and delivery. As a guide, here are a few figures to help you find your sweet spot. In full-time employment, the starting salary for junior graphic designers is around £15,000 to £19,000 per year, this can rise to £27,000 with some experience. A middleweight graphic designer can command £25,000 to £35,000. Whilst the salary for senior graphic designer ranges from £35,000 to £55,000. If you work as a freelancer, you can earn anything between £200 and £400 per day with experience. The rate should increase as you grow, gain experience and become more in demand. Project (Flat) Rate Some freelance graphic designers believe in asking the client for their budget and charge whatever a client is willing to pay you. The slight danger in this approach is if any two clients were to discuss their project with one another and felt there was a discrepancy in the price, it wouldn't reflect well on the graphic designer. It's highly unlikely this scenario would ever arise, however, with integrity and word of mouth such important aspects for freelance graphic designers, quoting per project should still have a level consistency that a graphic designer can justify. In cases when the client does not provide a budget, setting a flat rate for a piece of work takes skill. Start by obtaining as much information from the client as possible. This may include their expectations, deadline, usage, and format. The next aspect is to manage their expectations that you can lay out in your contract. These may include the number of changes before you begin to bill for overtime, your hourly rate (see above) and the consequences of missing deadline. Give yourself a little wiggle room. Your flat rate probably needs to be higher than you think. Let's imagine your hourly rate is £50 and you think a piece of work will take 1.5 hours, you may want to quote £100 in case you go over (and you probably will). There's almost always an 'extra change' that has to be made and those extra changes add up. Researching rates & the Gig Economy 5 years ago, the first step when researching rates would be to compare your prices with competitors in your local area. For example, in London, experienced graphic designers charge between £250 to £500 per day. However, freelance graphic design work is not always location specific and it's not uncommon to be quoting against global applicants for a remote piece of work. The gig economy has thrown everything up in the air and Graphic Designers are regularly being undercut by those with lower overheads, newbies to the industry or those who don't know their worth. In these cases, our data shows that employers rarely choose the cheapest option. The quality of the work is still at the forefront of an employers decision when hiring a freelance graphic designer whilst professionalism, communication and creativity are not far behind. Graphic Designers, like most creative freelancers, must now adapt to the new world of remote workers. We interviewed hundreds of employers who highlighted the importance of delivering a piece of work on time. They also valued regular communication, particularly at the start of a project when discussing the brief, as one of their top priorities. Freelance Graphic Design rates should not have to drop to compete with the global market so long as one recognises how the value of their services has shifted. When you set your desired salary, remember to be realistic. Clients will want to see a good level of experience and a solid graphic design portfolio to justify higher freelance rates. Undercutting the Market When setting freelance rates graphic design is a competitive area to work in. Some clients ask designers to propose a price on a project-by-project basis with a skeleton brief. This is incredibly difficult when starting out as a freelancer, it's also often advantageous for the client as they know you'll try to be competitive and hold you at a cheap rate. If clients try to push down your freelance rates, stand firm. Some clients don’t understand the costs behind operating as a freelance graphic designer and the years of experience you have built up to perfect your skill set. Ultimately, they’re not worth it - but you are.