question: “do you have a rate sheet or do you give clients a personalized quote?”

for me every project is different so i personalize my price quotes. i go into each one thinking about what i had charged my last client and if it felt right at the end. i have base prices in my head that are more of a jumping off point. everyone wants different things tweaked to fit them and their project/budget/timeline. i’d rather not waste time editing a package that i pre-created and just start fresh. just tell me what you want, when you need it and I’ll give you a number.

this might not work for everyone’s situation though. if you’re doing the same thing like shooting a wedding or styling a set you probably have day rates or packages at different levels of work and price. so far the personalized quotes makes the most sense for me.

this is what i call an ATS. assess the situation. i am the same as katie and don’t use flat rates or even a rate sheet anymore. i have ballpark numbers in my head but there is no standard. you have a call with the client and try to best understand what they want and compare it to your other projects. does it seem like it’s going to take a similar amount of time as the project you took on a few months ago or is it going to take you twice as long? are you going to be discounting it for a friend or designing for a lower cost/high exposure project? rate sheets feel like commitment to me. sure, they save time. but i’d rather go the long way.

if a major corporation contacts you to redesign their logo as opposed to a small etsy seller, that number is most likely going to be different. think about how your design will be used, the audience that will be exposed to it and of course the amount of work you think it will be. and this is just when your best judgement comes in.

and this is maybe a little hush hush, but think about how smoothly you think the project will go (because this matters). you should always be padding your cost for project management (emails, calls etc.) and let’s be honest here, some people just require more attention than others. which isn’t a bad thing at all…but time is money, honey.

(illustration by katie evans. read more freelance advice posts are over here!)



Add your own

  • 1. Pink Ronnie  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Love your mantra of ATS, Bri. So true.
    And I agree – you always can tell from the start whether the client needs a bit more ‘hand holding’ and ‘navigating’ than others. I think I always underestimated (and therefore undercharged) the project management side of things, but thinking back now, I would definitely charge hourly for that too.
    Great illustration Katie!
    Ronnie xo

  • 2. Drew Elizabeth  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 6:53 am

    I love this series & I love Katie’s illustrations. They always put a smile on my face!


  • 3. Marisa  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 8:41 am

    These advice columns are so helpful. This one is awesome! Thanks!

  • 4. Anni  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I’m loving these columns, they’re so helpful.

    As a photographer, my pricing seems like it should be easier to figure out, but honestly, I feel like pricing packages are kind of cumbersome. I’ve been thinking about giving a base price, and then creating custom packages for clients after hearing more about their wedding, etc.

    I think as the designer, photographer, etc, we’re able to listen to the client and figure out what they’re looking for easily, whereas the client may feel overwhelmed with what they “should” get without knowing why, or if it’s what they really want.

  • 5. Lesley Myrick  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Great advice as always, Bri + Katie. I find pricing so tricky (especially for logo design) when the final result is something so small/simple, yet holds great value to the client. I was hoping for an easy “here’s the answer!” answer on this post, but it’s always good to trust your gut and price projects for individual clients as appropriate.

  • 6. Kimber  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 10:30 am

    WHAT IF… Your clients gets a number from you and asks, “well, how long is this going to take you?” Then does the math in their head and says, “you’re charging (blank) ammount an hour?!” How do you tell the client, it’s not exactly based on a rate per hour….basically- a client has asked me to break down each aspect and give a rate on each. Um…is this normal? Help, please? Anyone? ;)

  • 7. Sarah  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you Katie and Bri for this series. I can’t even tell you how many times you’ve touched on some sort of freelance business problem I was dealing with in my life. Excellent advice as always. I’m still pretty new at freelance, but I work (roughly) by an hourly rate. I estimate how many hours it will take me to do a project, and round up for revisions, client back and forth, etc. I try to avoid giving the client too many details about where that number comes from, because I’ve found thats when they start to nickel and dime.

  • 8. Laura  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Put me in the “ATS” category as well. It just makes sense! Kimber, if a client asked me to break it down like that, I would probably just explain that my rates are based on more than just hourly fees and leave it at that. Some people will always try to nickel and dime, because they think it makes them great negotiators. I see that kind of behavior as a red flag for future fussiness and charge accordingly.

  • 9. Peaches  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Well said.

    My favorite all-purpose business quote; You can have it good. You can have it fast. You can have it cheap. *Now pick two.*

  • 10. Sarolta  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you girls for this column. It is quite awesome that two professionals offer this! I also have a new question: Bri, you repeatedly said it would be good to collaborate with other bloggers/artists. I would love to ask my photographer friends to contribute to my blog as I do not even have a camera (apart from my smartphone). Would I have to pay them? Or is it rather exchanging exposure on each others blogs? How does it work so it it fair for everyone? How do you handle guest posts?

  • 11. bri  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    at first, with all my contributors i did a trial time to make sure it was a good fit (and of course offered them links etc) but after they moved into the category of posting on a more regular basis, I began paying them. Guest posters that appear every once in a while are either done through trade, paid gigs or just because they thought it would be fun to post. i believe if someone is having a column on your blog and dedicating time each week to you, they should definitely be paid. but i know a lot of people that guest post for each OTHER and they consider it canceled out. again, it’s all a personal choice!

  • 12. Link Love: 10.4.12 | Nubb&hellip  |  October 4th, 2012 at 6:36 am

    […] I personally prefer to use a rate sheet, I liked Bri’s insight on why she bypasses this method for custom […]

  • 13. Sarolta  |  October 4th, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Dear Bri, now that was a quick answer! Thank you!

  • 14. Friday Links | EEF Etcete&hellip  |  October 5th, 2012 at 6:22 am

    […] Rate sheet or personalized quote – on Design Love Fest […]

  • 15. Kitty  |  October 6th, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I’m really glad I just came across your blog, I’m finding lots of useful info for starting my freelance design life! Thanks for your helpful advice, I know I’ll be back often :)

  • 16. Bethany  |  October 6th, 2012 at 8:58 am

    This is SO helpful. I’m a freelance graphic designer on the side and I never know what to charge people, especially when most the jobs I get are through friends. This is so helpful and proof that I’ve been undercharging (as I suspected). I love reading your blog and find your life very inspiring. You’re living the dream!

  • 17. MD. ABDULLAH SIDDIKI  |  October 7th, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Compliments, this is a great shot!!!!!

  • 18. Ana  |  October 8th, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Still finding your advice applicable outside graphic design.
    Yay :D !

  • 19. Freelancing: What is your&hellip  |  November 23rd, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    […] Additional reading: the ladies at Design Love Fest discuss rate sheets versus personalised quotes. […]

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