How do your prices compare?

How much, exactly, are other creatives charging?

I get this question a lot since my new book, “The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money” came out.

So I’ve been trying to find out.

Last month, I recruited 10 designer to join me for a “Pricing Call.” I gave them all the specs for a sample web site project and an estimating worksheet to fill out. Then we all got on the phone together for 90 minutes and each participant described how they got to that price. Here’s what we saw:

  • The prices ranged from $2800 to $22,000!
  • Number of hours spent was 50 at the low end and 115 at the high end.
  • Hourly rates ranged from $36.50 to $275

The experience of the participants ranged widely also. We had relatively new designers who had only done a couple web sites, as well as veterans who’ve been doing them for a while with a clear process in place both to execute and price the projects.

When I wrote about this in my Quick Tip from Marketing Mentor, one response I got attempted to explain the disparity, suggesting that it “speaks to the wild variation in pricing models and fee structures…but also the fact that people should be asking more questions before quoting.”

We’re trying to address this, to educate designers and other creatives about how to price, to learn from others who’ve been successful at putting a process in place. That’s where the next DesignCast comes in: “The Pricing Game” on June 14 at 4 PM EST.

During the DesignCast, 3 designers will each describe their process for getting to a price for 3 different projects — a non profit corporate ID project, a web site project and a 3D promo. (Sign up here).

But the question stands, what are the main problems you face when pricing a project? Post your questions here and we’ll try to get you some answers.

6 thoughts on “How do your prices compare?

  1. Javier

    Buenos dias, soy de México quisiera saber si los mismos precios de USA pueden aplicarse en mi país? También e tenido varios problemas con clientes encuanto a los presupuestos que en algunos proyectos editoriales se les hace el precio muy caro, hay alguna tarifa o o un rango que dijera los proyectos editoriales, identidad corporativa, se cobra de esta manera? Usted que me aconsejaría para poder solucionar mi problema?

    Muchas gracias quedo en espera de su respuesta.

    1. Laura

      Hola Javier. Yo soy de Barcelona (Spain) y me cuestiono lo mismo cada día. Cuanto a lo que preguntas yo creo (¡creo!) que depende mucho del precio de la moneda de cada local, de cuánto cuesta una “manzana” en el DF, en NY o en BCN. Lo ideal es hacer el mismo tipo de estudio que comenta Ilise en este post pero en tu país y ir reduciendo cada vez más cerca a tu ciudad. También, no te puedes comparar con los “famosos” en caso que no lo eres, como yo… Esta es la lógica que seguramente sigues tu también. Saludos!!

  2. KC

    I always try to price my projects based not on the maximum I can make on the project necessarily, but what is best for the client’s budget and how I can give a fair price estimate without draining their budget and pricing myself out of the project. The problem that I run into is that every time I try to give a fair estimate, the client acts like it is going to break the bank. I understand that all projects are not the same, but I would like to convey to the client that their is not a magical ‘design’ button that you can press and, poof, the project appears, but it does take some effort to reach their goals. Any advice?

  3. Ilise Benun Post author

    KC, there are certain things you can do through your ongoing marketing to demonstrate the value and return on investment of the design services you offer, but it sounds to me like you’re talking to the wrong type of clients in the first place, if they see design as “breaking the bank.”

  4. Monica

    It seems my prices are fairly cheap!

    For me, I usually ask first if there is a budget the client has in mind – in today’s economy things can be tight. But typically, I figure out how much time it would take me and then figure out an estimate. I find that giving a client a number based on a project, than per hour basis, is received easier. It gives the client an idea of how much it would cost.

    For a basic website, I estimate around $800 – for about 20 hours of work. This varies of course, depending on the client’s needs, but so far it’s stayed pretty true.

  5. George

    The wide range in hourly rates would seem to reflect a wide range of skill levels as well as demand for services, but by and large, I think freelancers undervalue their hourly rate. The best way to approach this is to think of yourself as a company that hires a reasonably competent professional to do their work. There are formulas to work this out, but a good rule of thumb is to take what a company would pay you to do the work you do in your area, and then double it, or more. This will give you enough to pay yourself a decent wage, plus benefits. You will also need to cover hardware and software upgrades, skills upgrading, administration, office supplies, and something for your office space, even if you work out of your home.
    We actually use a multi-tier system based on the work we perform, from $40 for ftp uploads and administration, to $100 for on-site photography.