5 Tips for Pricing Your Creative Work

How much does a [insert item here] cost?

The question all creatives are faced with and sometimes, hard to answer. How you price your work depends on several factors, and truly, there’s no secret formula. However, we can lend our findings and experience. Here’s our top 5 tips when it comes to pricing creative work.

1. Don’t say a price until you fully understand the project and the deliverables.

Picture this: You just got contacted to do a huge rebrand for a professional esport player and they want a new logo, Twitch revamp, and some apparel. Most of the time, one of the first questions a potential client will ask you is “How much will all this cost?”. Don’t reply immediately after you did some really bad algebra in your head within 10 seconds and then out comes a price that you think is might work.

Your definition of a logo versus their definition of a logo may be different. What you consider to be a Twitch revamp may be different than what they consider a Twitch revamp. I’ve been in situations where I think a client wants a few Twitch for each type of alert but when they said alerts, they meant different alerts for every tier of Twitch sub, different animations for specific levels of donations, etc.. So, the lesson here was, don’t assume the deliverables and give a price until you talk to the client in detail about the entire project.

2. Price your creativity, not your technical knowledge.

“You want THAT much for a logo that simple? I could make that myself!”. Most designers have been there before and sure, a simple logo is easy to recreate. That’s the key word though: recreate. Just about anyone with a few hours of spare time could watch a pen tool tutorial, fire up Illustrator, paste in a logo copied from the web, and trace over it. But that’s not what you’re charging clients for, right?

Ideation, creativity, research, expertise, AND technical knowledge is what you’re charging for; not because you happen to have some creative programs installed.

3. Value-based pricing.

This a big one and it’s the way that we price most of our projects. This does not have to be the way you price, but I’ve found this to be the most beneficial to both the creatives and the client.

Here’s a definition with design subbed in: Value-based pricing is a pricing strategy which sets the prices of a design primarily, but not exclusively, according to the perceived or estimated value of the design to the client rather than according to the typical cost or historical prices in general.

In other words, if someone like Netflix comes to you asking for some design work, you should probably price that work higher than a brand new service who has a small budget.

This doesn’t mean you work less for a small budget or more for a larger budget; your quality should be on par regardless of the cost. You never know when that “little esport team” may blow up and your design is seen by millions.

4. Who says the price first? You do.

Contrary to popular belief of “Never say your price first, wait for the other person to say the price.”, you should be the first to say the cost of the service.

Chris Do has an incredible video here that explains something called anchoring. When someone says the price first, they drop their anchor (price). If you wait for the client to say a price, their anchor may be way less than what you need to charge and then you have to counter with a much higher price, which can be unsettling to a client. Instead, do this: evaluate all the deliverables so you understand everything you need to create, consider revision costs, think about value-based cost, and simply say “Here’s what this will cost.”.

Worst case, they say it’s too much and you can negotiate if need be. Best case, they agree to the price and you’re happy, their happy. It’s that simple.

5. You’re worth it.

When I first started designing over 10 years ago, I fell victim to the $50 logo projects. I thought it was normal and that I didn’t need to charge more. While there’s nothing wrong with starting out small, gaining experience, and pocketing a little spare change, you need to charge what your time and expertise is actually worth if you want to do this as a career and support your adult life.

Remember, clients are coming to you because you’re the expert.

You have the creativity, knowledge, and tools to get the job done. So, price what that’s worth to you and remember that your worth is your worth, nobody else’s.