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How to set a price for freelance design work?

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Here’s an advice that people often gives: you need to know your worth. As a freelance designer, you have to understand the value that you are giving to the people that seeks your service. There is a basic relationship that could be cultivated from that. Thankfully, your worth is by no means tied to the price of the service you provide. Giving a high price does not necessarily mean you have a high value, you also need to back it up with professionalism.

So, before we get into some tips on how to set a price for your service, first we must look from the other side and see what makes people want to hire a freelance designer such as yourself.

What Do The Client Wants?

First of all, the economic principle of affordable price for quality work is always in the mind of everyone. Just admit it, sometimes you look for the cheapest possible price for the highest possible quality on that price. Consider this as your first hurdle. You need to make your future client think beyond the price.

Second thing they look for is the portfolio. Here it is important that your portfolio actually shows work that you can provide with expertise. It’s okay if your portfolio is not very wide ranging, because sometimes a work just doesn’t fits you. But it is also important to show the widest range that you can do.

For example, if you are a web designer, showing multiple web design project ranging from the personal, corporate and perhaps even the weird one can really show what you are capable of. But if you are a web designer and your portfolio shows some hand drawn illustration work, this may be going a little bit too far.

The third thing, they want to know is your experience. That can be seen through your portfolio and also you can provide a detailed list of past project and your involvement in them.

That last part is also important, you need to be truthful on the involvement level. Let’s say you were involved in designing a submission form page for a web design project for a company like Coca Cola, you need to be honest that you were responsible on creating the submission form only and not the whole project.

Here are four questions a client might asked about freelance designer:

  1. Do they have relevant skills?
  2. Can I trust them?
  3. Have they worked on a similar project before?
  4. Are their rates reasonable for their skill level?

5 Tips on Finding A Client

There are some strategies we will talk about setting a price. But all that strategy could be worthless if you have no clients to work with, right?

So you should first ask yourself: “Who should pay me to create a design project?”

Now, the answer to that question is a little bit complicated. Here’s a list to help you understand:

  1. Understand your Capabilities – You need to know your skillset, how broad and how deep can you do the work. It’s not enough just saying, I want to do graphic design, you need to have a sober look at your work and understand what kind of client would be willing to pay for it.
  2. Avoid Being Too Picky – Especially if you are just starting out, you should not bee too picky with the client you work with. In the early days, you need to build a reputation and experience.
  3. Start Small – If you are just starting out, it’s better to start with something small. An web designer may want to start with just designing (or even, tweaking) a single page instead of a whole site makeover.
  4. Have a Portfolio Ready – Have an easily accessible portfolio, use whatever way you find comfortable. This could be a site like Pinterest or Dribble, or even your own site. Just have one that highlight your best work only and be ready with a detailed document in case you need them.
  5. Network – First you begin with people close to you, this could be friends or family, then you should find a way to network with other people. You could make use of freelancing platforms, such as Fiverr, social media and even some in attendance event.

Once you find someone interested in your work, that’s when you need to be ready with a pricing strategy.

The Pitch

One more thing, usually you need to pitch your work to future clients. You need all pitch to be brief and to the point.

And remember, no matter what you are capable of and what you think your worth is, you should always know what the client wants. Because at the end of the day your client will only be concerned with their own goals than your capabilities.

Here’s how you can start the pitch: try to empathize with the problem they want to solve, or where they want to be going. Then, try to connect that problem with your work, framing exactly how your service can help them get there.

After that, back it up with supporting data such as testimonials and sample work. Then, once they are hooked, you can start to discuss pricing.

Pricing Strategy 101

The very basic thing about pricing is you need to know what they need from you before asking them to pay you. This means having a conversation with them, or reading and confirming their request before agreeing to the work.

You also need to understand who your client is and how much they are capable of paying. Some clients have very tight budget and are not used to paying for creative work, these kind of clients need to be let go gently. If they have high demand, you should also think about whether they’re paying for good value – or maybe your skills aren’t up to scratch.

If you are looking for work, you need to be able to deliver. You should always have something worth selling before you offer to take money from people.

Another important thing is to ask yourself, how will you benefit from this relationship. If it’s just a simple monetary transaction, some jobs are not worth the hassle. You’re better off just peddling your wares on sites like Envato, where you don’t need to worry about revisions etc.

But if you are sure you can get more value out of this relationship, you could benefit from a strategic pricing scheme.

3 Pricing Strategy

Ok, so now we get to the good part. What are the available pricing strategy you could set for your freelance work.

  1. Input Based
  2. Output Based
  3. Value Based

Let’s dive deeper.

Input Based Pricing is the most basic way to price your service. This is where you calculate the price based on what actually goes into creating the product. For physical product you take into account the cost of procuring the raw materials and then you calculate the overhead cost needed to turn the raw material into finished product, including labor.

Input based pricing for service or creative work usually comes in the form of the billable hour. You state how many hour it takes to produce the service needed and you agree with the client the hourly price. Or, you could make that estimate for yourself and note that as the minimum basic price or lower price.

Output Based Pricing is the second stage, after you figure out your minimum basic price, output based pricing is calculated on the items you create. Let’s say, for a web designer, it is calculated on the number of web pages created after the work is done. This could help bridge between the client expectations and your willingness to work with them. As the number of output created becomes an objective middle ground.

Value Based Pricing is the ultimate way to price your service. This begins with understanding what the client is trying to achieve by obtaining your service. Maybe a client wants a website redesign because they need more website traffic? In that case, you could charge a much higher price by providing extra service like tweaking the design and having A/B design alternative for them to test. Other client may just want a refreshing new look on their website, for this you may not need to charge extra as their only concern is in the visual.

An important thing you could always offer is to have options. Having options can turn the table on the client, they will not be asking whether or not to use your service at this price, instead they will ask which price point is the best for them.

To conclude, whatever pricing strategy you decided to use you should make sure that both sides agree and are comfortable with it. Because in the end, this is a relationship that you are building with the client, and this could lead to more opportunities in the future.

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