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How should I price my design projects?

Three pricing tips - and a shortcut! - for the freelance graphic designer

By Malka Glick (Porges)

How to price freelance graphic design projects

Pricing - it's what sends most new and even seasoned designers on a desperate rampage to find out what's normal. 

Quote too low and you end up working hours upon hours for less than what your cleaning lady earns. Quote too high and the client raises their eyebrow, turns around and never comes back. (And you really wouldn't mind that job!!!)

There are three components to take into consideration when pricing - and we'll discuss each one:

1- What are the market norms?

2- How sought after am I?

3- How long does this actually take ME?

1- What are the market norms?

Pricing is a spectrum. The market will determine some baseline for you to stay within. 

Whether you’re on the lower end or the higher end (unless your value exceeds the norm) you'll usually fall somewhere within the industry standards. 

Knowing the industry norms helps you avoid working per hour or quoting clients way out of line. It also helps you be able to respond to leads quicker without needing to fish favors from fellow designers. 

2- How sought after am I?

Your value will determine where on the spectrum you are. 

If you're a newbie with nothing to show for yourself, it doesn't matter what others are charging. What matters is doing whatever you can to break into the market.

Once you have some solid experience with work to show for it, your value increases along with your pricing. 

If you have clients lined up out the door to work with you at your current price point - it means your value is worth more than what you’re currently charging and it's time to raise your rates. Conversely, when things are very quiet, it’s sometimes worth offering a special for incoming leads in order to get some work in the door. 

3- How long does this actually take ME?

This is where your preferred hourly rate comes in.  

You know how many work hours you have in a week (remember to leave 20% of your time for business management) and you know how much money you'd like to come home with at the end of the month. So figure out an (internal) hourly rate that makes sense for YOU! 

And then start tracking your time. 

Realize how long different projects take you, which projects are most profitable for you, and which ones are not.

That's when the puzzle starts to come together.  

The first time you price, you have little to go on except for the market norms. But once you do that and track your time, you'll see which projects are most worthwhile for you. 

If you see that you aren't making enough per hour on specific projects, it's time to raise the price for those. If you see that you're in high demand (even just for certain projects) then it's time to raise your price. If you see that you're really quick at a certain project and it's very worthwhile for you - start to market smartly and try to sell more of those packages.

So, know the market norms and adjust it to your needs based on time tracking and your demand.  


I hope this reduces some stress the next time you need to quote a potential client.  

Malka Porges Flawless Designs Pricing Guide

I've also create a pricing guide for designers to help you identify the market norms which is available on my site here.

Happy pricing ;-)

Malka Glick (Porges)


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