TFD: What Every Illustrator Should Consider About Pricing
I can guarantee that a lot of you reading this have, at some point, questioned how you should price your services. This is a tricky and (somewhat) complicated topic because all Illustrators (or hand letterers, calligraphers, designers, you get the picture) usually charge a bit differently. Because we're freelancers, that means (most likely) we're individuals. We are all different. Different tastes, different styles, different ways that we conduct our client relationships. Some of us have skills that are highly sought after, others are just starting out. These factors make pricing out jobs tricky. For example, just because I charge $___ amount on a job, doesn't mean that you should. Or vice versa. Pricing your work properly is extremely important because it maintains a sense of value in not only your work, but also upholds pricing standards for the entire industry.
That being said, there IS a bit of method to the madness. If you're just starting out and you're in desperate need of knowing how to quote a job for a client, here are a few things that you should consider...
1. Job details
Before you quote a job, you'll need to know the details of what you're designing. You know those jobs sheets that I talked about before? They need a description that tells you what you're actually creating. Once you are familiar with the content, you can have a better grasp on what you need to do to execute the project. For example, if you are quoting a job that requires you to fly half way across the country where you'll be creating a one of a kind mural with your own supplies, this will obviously be much more expensive. If you're commissioned to do a digital spot illustration for an online magazine, that would obviously change the way you would price out the job.
2. Who you're creating for
Believe it or not, who you're creating for makes a difference in the price point. For example, you are commissioned to design a logo for a freelance photographer that is somewhat well known vs. you are commissioned to re-design the logo for Target.
If you are working with a larger company, industry standards say the budget should also be larger. Vise-versa, you should be mindful of quoting small companies at a lower rate.
3. How the artwork will be used
How the artwork is going to be used will greatly effect the over-all budget. It's important to obtain these details from your client before settling on a price point for the job. For example, you are commissioned to create a full page illustration for an upcoming campaign for a major food chain. You might be tempted to stop at that description and price out the job. Before you even quote the illustration, you need to figure out how the artwork will be used. In print? Web? Broadcast? All of those? Make sure that the usage will be outlined in the agreement. If there is larger usage (which, because it's a campaign, they will probably need usage on all of those platforms), the price point will be higher. Again, this is industry standard and getting this info from your client is expected if you are working with any sort of agency.
4. Who will own the rights, and for how long
After establishing the usage, you'll need to figure out who will own the artwork and for how long. Most clients will want exclusive rights to the artwork for 1-3 years. Some will want perpetual rights. This will greatly effect how you quote your client.
For example, you are commissioned to create a custom font for a large company. The company wants exclusive perpetual rights of the font, which means that you won't be able to re-sell it at any point. You will no longer own the rights to that font. This sort of job will be priced higher than if you were commissioned to create a font for a large company and they only need exclusive rights for one year. After that, you are able to sell the font on your website. Same goes for photos, illustrations, or designs.
5. Supply / Demand
This one you're probably already familiar with. If you're a newbie, you'll charge less than someone with 10+ years of experience. Likewise, if your skills are in really high demand, you can charge more. If you're just starting out and you only are getting a few jobs a year, that doesn't mean you should charge below industry standard. Make sure you are putting a fair price on your work. Under pricing at any level is definitely not a good thing. It lowers the value of what designers should be paid in the field and throws off competition. If you under price your work, you can potentially get a lot of jobs but you'll have to stay busy all the time to make ends meet. Price fairly. Not way above what your skills are worth but definitely not below.
5. Hourly Pricing
You guys, I'm not a fan of hourly pricing. I know a lot of you out there probably use this method because it's the way "regular" jobs are conducted, but it's really not the best method for freelance design or illustration. For example, two designers are contacted to quote on the same job. They both quote $75/hour. Both designers create equally stunning artwork as the final result but it takes one designer 8 hours to complete and the other only 2. This means that one designer was paid $600 and the other was paid only $150. See where I'm going with this?
In my opinion, value is not based on how long something takes to create. It's based on the execution. This is why I never price hourly.
So that's my take on what every Illustrator should consider about pricing. For those of you who have been freelancing for a while, I'm hoping that you already new about these methods. If you didn't - will you price differently now? For those of you who are just starting out, did you find this helpful? Comment below and let me know what you think! As always, if you found this helpful, please share.
All my best,