in Misc

How To Charge For Your Design Projects

When you start working as a graphic designer, you must decide whether to charge a flat or an hourly rate. Each method has pros and cons so you must know all the details before making a decision.

Hourly Rates

If you want to go with hourly rates, you must know that this is often considered a difficult process. The importance of the hourly rate is that will position you in relation to your competitors and will directly affect what you earn. Fortunately there`s a method to follow to figure out at least a ballpark for your rate, which may then need to be adjusted based on the market.

Choose a profit goal

It may seem strange to decide your own salary but you have to do this in order to determine your hourly rate. Look on some factors and figure out a realistic yearly salary.

– Did you worked before? If you did, what was your salary at the previous full-time job?
– What is the average salary in your field?
– What is the necessary amount of money to maintain your lifestyle ?

If you will be a freelancer, then don`t forget that besides the amount you need to maintain your lifestyle, you should also add a reasonable amount of profit. Also remember to calculate your income after paying taxes.

Determine your yearly expenses

Remember that list of factors form the previous paragraph? Well, every business has expenses, and a graphic design business is no different. Calculate your business related expenses for an entire year, which include: Hardware, Software, Education, Advertising, Office supplies, Insurance, Legal and accounting fees, and so on.

Finally, calculate your hourly rates

When calculating your hourly rate, first ad the amount of money you need to make in a year to maintain your desired lifestyle (aka yearly salary). Then, divide this by your billable hours (not your total hours worked). The result is your hourly rate.

The pros and the cons

– You know you will be paid for actual hours worked


– You are not guaranteed a minimum payment
– The client doesn’t know exactly what the project will cost him

Flat rates

It`s a good idea to charge a flat rate because both you and your clients know the cost from the start. The client doesn`t have to worry about going over the budget and the designer is guaranteed a certain amount.

In some cases, flat rates should be based on an estimate of the amount of hours a project will take to complete but in other cases the value of the project is higher than the estimated hours. For example, a logo can be more expensive than a website.

The pros and the cons

–  The client knows what they are paying from the beginning.
–  Even if the job is finished quickly you will still receive the amount of money.

As the designer, you are taking a risk that the job will not take longer than expected. However, this situation should be covered in your contract.

Once you have completed a number of jobs you will gain enough experience to accurately decide how to charge for your projects.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.