The Price Debate: Can you overprice good design?
Pricing can be one of the most difficult things a freelance designer will encounter. While the image of the “starving artist” may come to mind, it has become apparent that good designers are in one of the most sought-after creative career groups these days. Everything from logos to websites demand their expertise. The advertising industry would wither away were it not constantly fed by the new and innovative ideas of designers.
So how do you decide on pricing as a designer? Of course you never want to sell yourself short, but with so much competition in the market, overpricing can lead to less work or even unemployment.
First of all, let’s consider hourly pricing. While it can be the best route for certain projects, there are definitely some cautions to be wary of. If the job is a long-term project, an hourly pay rate can be advantageous. When you spend a lot of time on a job paid by the hour, you can rest assured that every little thing you do is adding a bit more to your paycheck. However, if you grossly underestimate the time you will spend completing a task, your employer may be a bit peeved when you clock in more hours of pay than you originally estimated. Be sure you cover all ground with a potential employer before you begin, and try to understand your own abilities and how quickly you can work before entering into hourly agreements.
One major consideration when quoting a price for a job is rights management. Make sure you thoroughly understand employers’ terms before signing onto a project. If they expect to maintain the rights to the work you do, your pay rate can increase dramatically. If your work will remain your own upon completion, you can offer a more competitive rate for your services as they are, in a sense, paying to borrow or use your work rather than take on ownership of it.
Also, if you will be retaining the rights to the work you do for a company, don’t forget to find out if you will also be receiving royalties for subsequent uses of your designs. You can offer higher or lower rate depending on whether they plan to use your work in print, on the web, both, or for other applications. If the company will retain rights, find out what would happen if the company changed ownership or if there is a specific length of time they will need to use your design.
If a company accepts your quote without negotiation, some experts say that means your quote was too low. If a company says your quote exceeds the budget they have for the product, it is entirely up to you whether to lower your quote or let the job pass by. By not accepting low pay for your work, you are helping designers everywhere by building up the industry standard. Taking the time to research norms and assess your own work quality can help ensure fair pricing. While selling yourself short won’t get you very far, neither will over-pricing.