How to “Nail It” With Your Pricing

When I was in San Francisco last week giving my new CreativeLive course, Command the Fees You Deserve, I met Ted Leonhardt, the author of the book, Nail It: Stories for Designers on Negotiating with Confidence.

Ted Leonhardt, Author, Consultant

I have to tell you about him because we share a common cause—helping creatives earn what they deserve! The end of Ted’s CreativeLive bio sums it up perfectly:

Ted believes that creative people help improve the world everyday and don’t get their fair share of respect or compensation in return. He’s here to change that. 

Check out Ted’s work:

If you’re not earning what you deserve, now is the time to change that … If you need help, sign up for my complimentary mentoring session.

Learn more about pricing from Ted Leonhardt: Here’s a brief excerpt from Ellen Shapiro’s interview with Ted Leonhardt about Nail It, originally featured on Read more here.


Q: When I ask about budgets and pricing design, clients often say, “We don’t know. You tell us.” And then when I state a number I think is reasonable, they say it’s way too much. Or they might agree and ask for a proposal. When they get the proposal, there are often no more ‘inbound calls.’ I end up suspecting that they agreed to the number just to get the proposal, and now they’ll take every idea therein and use them—or find someone else to do it all for less.

A: I always like summarizing in person before giving them anything in writing. Summarizing costs, schedule and deliverables extends the conversation and gets an immediate response, allowing you to adjust as required or decline the assignment long before writing a proposal—saving a lot of time and effort. If they push back on your summary, ask a few more questions, clarify, refine your approach and summarize again until you both agree on what’s to be accomplished.

Q: Let’s say they do state a number. How can you get them to understand that the $300 they had budgeted is not enough, and that they need to spend more?

A: Ask them how they arrived at the number. Maybe it’s an appropriate figure. Maybe you could actually do something appropriate for $300. Or maybe not. In any case, you want to know if $300 is all there is before, not after, you put in more effort.

Q: I was just kidding about pricing design work at $300. What kind of project is worth $300 to both the designer and the client? I’m figuring three to four hours. Doesn’t a number that low start the relationship on the wrong foot?

A: My friend/ Photoshop guru routinely helps me make a photo glorious and prints it out large to boot for $300. We have a great relationship. As a matter of fact, I’m heading out to his office this afternoon to have him add his touch to some giant wall prints I want to make. His fees for a couple of hours will be in the low hundreds.

graphic-artists-guild-handbook-of-pricing-ethical-guidelines-14thQ: When it comes to larger projects, are there general design pricing guidelines that designers can use as a reference?

A: The Graphic Artists Guild Pricing & Ethical Guidelines is the best source. I’ve used it for many years. Also, just Google, “What should I pay for…” Or ask anyone you know in the industry.

Q: Google, ‘What should I pay for?’ Seriously? I just Googled, ‘What should I pay for a logo design?’ Site #1 said, “One should expect a simple logo design to cost approximately $200… a logo design with intricate patterns and fonts will cost twice as much as a simple design. Expect to pay around $400 for a design of this type.” Another site advises owners of startups to do it themselves by picking a nice font and a color. A third site has a chart with $200 at the low end and $1,000,000 for ‘world-famous designer.’

A: Yep, it’s all over the board. And yes, you can pick a color and a font all on your own. And if you have good taste you might do all right.

In my experience, it’s all a matter of context. If the client wants to design it themselves or pick an off-the-web solution, that’s okay too. The thing is, if they can’t see the difference between your work and the off-the-web design, they will never need you. Move on.

Read more from this interview at