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Hugo's Advice on Learning How to Charge as a Freelance Designer & Creative

In This Article


  • Experience of learning how to price freelance design work.
  • Recounting a conversation with a younger friend who asked for advice on how to price their own work.
  • Reflecting on the journey of learning how to price services, which involved working in various media jobs and gaining an understanding of how to organize numbers and services for each client.
  • Offering a three-tiered pricing scheme based on the size of the client's budget, as well as advice on calculating hourly rates, negotiating contracts, and valuing one's work while remaining realistic.
  • Conclusion: encouraging readers to persevere in their freelance careers.


The other day while browsing through my Facebook, a talented younger friend approached me via inbox to ask how I price my work to charge for x or y job or project.


First of all, it made me remember that many years ago, I approached a design forum in the United States to ask exactly that. I remember that nobody could answer me clearly, Apparently, many of the participants in the conversation thread were questioning the same thing.


Over time, the design red book came into my hands. It was and still seems to me like a utopia for charging design fees by the concept. The prices were excessively high for someone like me who was starting and did not have the power to price my work.


It turned out that over the years, I worked in all kinds of media jobs; and that way, I was able to get a clearer idea of how to organize my numbers to be clear about how much to charge each client. Each case is different, so I'll start there.


Setting Your Rate


Each client is a different pocket, a different account.


The first thing you offer a client as a service provider is to be ready to understand how much this person wants to spend. Depending on this, we can have a very clear idea of what type of service we will offer.


Through Barbosah Creative Solutions, I offer a wide range of services that are difficult to price for those who do not understand these principles.


It turns out that understanding the size of your client's budget can help you divide your services into three categories (this scheme is only mine based on the history of cases I have worked on):


  • Basic or Economic: Work that I do in a day or less, which does not represent a very large investment of my time or skill, for a client who requires a minor service or something is done very quickly and not necessarily in detail.


  • Intermediate or Moderate: Work that I do in about three days, which requires time for analysis and production of materials. The client usually has somewhat special needs, and some study of their idea will be required before developing it.


  • Advanced or High: Work that I do in more than a week, based on the detailed development of an idea and that is usually complex to produce and requires special planning, visualization, and design requirements. The client is aware that quality goes hand in hand with the detailed development of a project, understands times, and also understands a bit about production processes.


Understanding this makes it easier to start dividing your billing type. Now the issue is to be clear about how much each hour of your work costs. To do this, you must resort to many factors.


Initially, you should take into account how much you spend on your personal monthly expenses:


  • Electricity, water, rent, gasoline, food, etc.
  • Then you should add your life insurance and retirement savings plans;
  • Add a markup to the total.
  • Ask yourself how much experience you have and how much skill you have in your work.


Someone who does things with quality and speed should charge more than someone who takes longer and provides lower quality; this can also be a factor to increase or decrease your hourly rate. Now that you have all these costs added up, you should divide them by the number of days you work, which should be at least 15 or 20 days per month. What comes out should be divided by 5 hours of concentrated and REAL daily work, in order to obtain an hourly cost.


Now, having an hourly cost, you can manipulate your fees to adjust to clients who hire more of your time. For example, for someone who hires you for 7 days, charge them for 5. Or for someone who hires you for 10 hours, charge them for 8 hours.


It's just a matter of negotiating or establishing hiring parameters.


  1. Offer them insurance by entering into a contract.
  2. Manage your work through Work Diary to keep track of the work you produce.
  3. Invoice through simple reports and deliverables that can serve your client for their records, review getting paid.
  4. Don't work with people who don't take your hiring conditions seriously; they act that way for a reason.
  5. Offer your services to clients with whom you would like to work.


Finally, always value your work, but also try to be realistic. Sometimes, as an artist, you may believe that you are very skilled and should be paid a lot of money, but your abilities may not allow it. If this is the case for any reader, don't worry: persevere.